The Lakers are starting fresh this fall, but still plan on battling the best.
Lake Oswego soared to the heights of Oregon high school football in 2021.
The Lakers won a Three Rivers League co-championship, earned the top ranking in the state and played their way into the Class 6A state quarterfinals.
But the 2022 Lakers are a very different team. In addition to graduating the TRL’s Defensive Lineman of the Year (Gavin McGuire), Offensive Player of the Year (quarterback Dylan Layne) and Offensive Lineman of the Year (Austin Leykam), Lake Oswego also said goodbye to all-leaguers at another 10 spots, including seven more first-teamers.
Despite all those challenges, Lake Oswego plans to rebuild quickly and believes that will be the case again in 2022.
“I think that we’ll be competitive,” said Lake Oswego coach Steve Coury. “But there’s no tougher league than the one we’re in, with West Linn being as good as they will be and Lakeridge. But we’ll be right there behind them, in my opinion, and be a really good football team.”
While there are changes aplenty of the offensive side of the football for Lake Oswego, the Lakers do bring back two all-leaguers — senior running back Calvin Macy (6 feet, 2 inches, 210 pounds) and senior wide receiver Owen West (6-1, 180) — on offense. Both were honorable mention selections in 2021.
Up front, the Lakers will look to senior Brodae Sutherland (6-3, 220) at left tackle, Hunter Kavanaugh (6-0, 230) at left guard, senior Grant Onaitis (5-11, 215) at center, senior Kellen Morrow (6-1, 225) at right guard and junior Tobia Tagliabue (6-1, 220) at right tackle, while junior Connor McNeill (5-10, 190), junior Dashel Hinrichs (6-0, 195) and senior Peter Gevurtz (6-1, 215) will also see playing time.
“It’s not an experienced group … (but) I think as time goes on, there’s a chance that they’ll be a pretty good unit,” Coury said, noting that Onaitis and Sutherland have the most varsity experience. “It will take some time, but (Onaitis and Sutherland) anchor it and they’ll be the ones other guys will look to for experience.”
At quarterback, Lake Oswego will call on junior Max Brauner (6-0, 160) to start, with backup help from sophomore Liam Davis (6-0, 170) and junior Mason Silbaugh (6-0, 190).
“We’ve got three guys that are capable of getting the job done, but three guys that have never played on Friday, so you kind of get what you get with that,” Coury said. “But I like where we’re at with the kids, and hopefully, they can play when the lights come on.”
At running back, Macy will be joined by senior Caleb Cagnoni (5-7, 160) and junior Zavier Russell (5-10, 200).
“(Macy is) a good player and we look for good things from him,” Coury said. “He’s got a lot of experience and he’s made some big plays for us on that side of the ball, so yeah, it’s good to have a guy like that back in the lineup.”
At wide receiver, the Lakers will call on West, senior Ethan Park (6-0, 175), Davis, junior Annan LeBaron (6-3, 185) and senior Henry Smith (6-1, 185), while senior Stevie Mooney (5-8, 155) and junior Colin Best (5-11, 165) will play at slot receiver.
“Ethan played for us last year and he’s a good player,” Coury said. “On the other side, the X receiver will be Owen West — he played last year and had a good year for us so both those guys are experienced guys.”
LO’s tight ends will be senior Jack Knapp (5-10, 185), junior Oskar Sanchez (6-0, 175) and junior Conor Croteau (6-4, 190).
Brauner will punt for the Lakers, Smith will handle kickoffs and senior Mark Mankin (6-0, 195) will do the placekicking.
“The biggest thing with this group and the team is the inexperience. It’s going to take a little while to get a feel for what it’s like to play on a Friday, but I think as time goes on and they get more experience, then things will look better and better,” Coury said. “So time is going to be the big thing for this group to come together. And we’re going to have to be smart about the way we attack things and keep things somewhat simple until we can get our feet under us.”
Like the Lakers offense, the LO defense features a lot of new faces and Macy as an all-league returner (he was a first-team pick at outside linebacker).
Along the line, the Lakers will play Sutherland, sophomore Oliver Macy (6-3, 205) and junior Ben Hovey (5-11, 190) at defensive end, while sophomore Lusiano Lopez (6-0, 205) and junior Connor Burgess (6-2, 215) will go at noseguard.
At linebacker, Calvin Macy will be joined on the outside by Knapp, Cagnoni and Croteau, while on the inside, it will be Kavanaugh, Tagliabue, McNeill and senior Blake Hilliker (5-8, 175).
“They’re young, those guys. … Other than (Sutherland, who played linebacker last year), they’re just all kind of inexperienced, but the defense itself is very athletic,” Coury said. “They’re athletic guys so they can move around pretty good. I think that (we can) overcome some of the inexperience with some of the athleticism that’s on the field.”
And in the backfield, Mooney, Davis, Best and Park will play at cornerback, while LO’s safeties will include Smith, West, Sanchez, Davis and LeBaron.
“They’re athletic kids. They all run fairly well,” Coury said. “It’s a good athletic group.”
As a unit, the LO defense mirrors the team as a whole — not huge in size and light on experience, but athletic, smart and with great potential to grow and improve.
“They can all run, we’ve got good team speed (and) … we’re physical enough that we can hang in there,” Coury said. “The athleticism and speed, I think, will be assets for us. … When you’re inexperienced like we are in most positions, you can overcome some of that inexperience with your athleticism.
“So I think it’s gonna be a good group. It’ll be a better group as time goes on. You put what they can do with their God-given abilities with the experience and learning — (that) combination’s got a chance to be pretty decent.”
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See the Lakeridge preview here.
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