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Prospect, Butte Falls co-op to save season

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Neither school has played since 2019 and will get first taste of six-man football

PROSPECT — Scott Thompson saw the writing on the wall when he interviewed for the Prospect Charter head football coach job earlier this year.

Both Prospect and Butte Falls, two rural Jackson County schools, were unable to field teams to compete in the 1A classification during the spring season. With dwindling numbers once again proving to be an issue, Thompson feared both schools would suffer a similar fate going into the fall.

Thompson, who was later hired as the Cougars’ head coach in late July, suggested the two schools form a co-op.

“I told them I’d really like to see them co-op. I figured that if they didn’t co-op, neither school would have a team,” said Thompson, a lifelong Butte Falls resident. “Prospect has actually put out enough kids, but Butte Falls, they don’t have enough kids over there that play right now to have a team, even have a six-man team. Last spring, I think they had two or three (players) show up.”

By the week of Aug. 23, the two schools had officially joined forces with less than two weeks until their season opener at Powers. In that brief time, they’ve had to get to know each other as players and coaches — Thompson, as well as defensive coordinator Shawn Myers — all while learning a new game.

When both teams last took the field in 2019, they were playing eight-man instead of six-man football, which the OSAA first introduced ahead of the 2018 season as a pilot program for the smallest schools in the state.

In the six-man game, every offensive player, including the quarterback, is an eligible receiver, though the quarterback can’t advance the ball past the line of scrimmage, where at least three players must be lined up prior to the snap.

Additionally, 15 yards are required for a first down instead of 10, and after a touchdown, point-after conversion runs or passes are worth one point and conversion kicks are worth two. Field goals are worth four points.

Those are the basic rules, though Thompson and Myers have tried to glean additional details by watching game film, and even planned to attend a jamboree in Gilchrist Aug. 28 to scout the format in person.

“We’re on a learning curve and just trying to figure things out,” Thompson said.

“I’ve never even seen a six-man game live,” he added. “It’s a whole lot different than watching it on film.”

Last season, a total of 15 teams competed in the six-man ranks, split into two special districts with no postseason. Prospect and Butte Falls were not among them. So every part of the new co-op, players and coaches alike, have had to adjust on the fly.

“The one thing I do know about this six-man deal is if you’ve got speed, you’ve got a lot going for you,” Thompson said. “And we got a lot of speed.”

The team has two starters returning from the 2019 Prospect team, junior running back and linebacker Jonathan Larson (5-8, 170) and senior defensive end and cornerback Theo James (6-6, 170). Additionally, Justin Jackson (5-8, 145), a senior starter from Butte Falls, will play defensive end and running back.

Thompson said he expects the team to run a lot because of their speed, but will likely also install some spread-formation packages.

Other notable players on the team are junior Kaydence Moore (6-2, 175), who Thompson said can play just about anywhere on defense from end to linebacker to corner, and junior Boden Perkins (5-8, 145), a defensive end and safety.

A total of 14 players will be on the team, and all of them playing for the first time since 2019. Thompson previously served as an assistant at Butte Falls from 2003-11, and again in 2013. During that time, he saw several Loggers teams excel, including a three-year playoff run from 2007-09 and a 21-game league winning streak.

Participation numbers have long been an issue across small-school football programs, but for the players forming this latest version of the Prospect/Butte Falls team, Thompson said they’re glad to be back on the gridiron.

“They’re just happy to be playing, and it’s showing,” Thompson said. “I think they’re really wanting to get out there and go for it.”

Reach reporter Will Denner at 541-776-4479 or wdenner@rosebudmedia.com

PROSPECT / BUTTE FALLS

HEAD COACH

Scott Thompson (first year)

GENERAL INFORMATION

ASSISTANTS: Shawn Myers (defensive coordinator).

PROSPECT

2019 LEAGUE RECORD: 0-5 (1A District 2 East).

2019 OVERALL RECORD: 0-7.

2019 RESULTS

Prospect Opponents

0 Days Creek 52

36 Myrtle Point 50

forfeit Bonanza

16 Triad 51

forfeit Hosanna Christian

forfeit North Lake

forfeit Chiloquin

BUTTE FALLS

2019 LEAGUE RECORD: 3-2 (1A District 2 West).

2019 OVERALL RECORD: 5-4.

2019 RESULTS

Butte Falls Opponents

68 North Lake 0

48 Oakridge 30

70 Myrtle Point 0

0 Camas Valley 50

58 Glendale 12

36 Riddle 6

20 Days Creek 46

20 Triad 44

0 Adrian/Jordan Valley 70

RETURNING STARTERS

OFFENSE (2): Running back Jonathan Larson (5-8, 170, jr.), running back Justin Jackson (5-8, 145, sr.).

DEFENSE (3): Cornerback/defensive end Theo James (6-6, 170, sr.), linebacker Jonathan Larson, defensive end Justin Jackson.

OTHER NOTABLES

Defensive end/linebacker/cornerback Kaydence Moore (6-2, 175, jr.), defensive end/safety Boden Perkins (5-8, 145, jr.), quarterback/running back Jacob Jackson (5-8, 145, sr.).

2021 SCHEDULE

Sept. 3 at Powers, 4 p.m.

Sept. 11 NORTH DOUGLAS, 4 p.m.

Sept. 17 GILCHRIST, 7 p.m.

Sept. 25 at North Lake, 3 p.m.

Oct. 1 at Riddle, 7 p.m.

Oct. 8 ELKTON, 7 p.m.

Oct. 16 at Yoncalla, 7 p.m.

Jonathan Larson, Prospect/Butte Falls football
Theo James, Prospect/Butte Falls football
Justin Jackson, Prospect/Butte Falls football
Scott Thompson, Prospect/Butte Falls football