OREGON, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF) — ‘Trust the process is a popular phrase in sports these days. At Oregon High School the process seems to be advancing nicely for the Hawks’ football team.
The Hawks are heading into year three under head coach Nick Schneiderman. They made strides last season jumping up from only one win the previous season to three wins.
“I think we got a spark, but I think we got a little more confidence,” said Schneiderman. “We’ve got a good group of seniors that got a lot of playing time last year.”
The Hawks return now with not only valuable experience and a taste of what winning is like, but also this year they probably have more speed and athleticism at the skilled positions than Oregon has had in a while. One of those speedsters is sophomore Dre Smith. He looks like he could be productive carrying the ball or catching it, but he’s not alone.
“We’ve got a lot of speed,” said running back/linebacker Zachary Crandall. “This year we’ve got Gatlin Good, Wylee Rice, we’ve got some speed guys.”
Split end Jacob Milliman is another player at the skill positions who has shown a knack for making plays.
Another positive for the Hawks is Ryker Finch is back for his senior season at quarterback and his second season as the starter.
“I’m just a lot more comfortable behind center, and I feel like I can throw the ball a lot harder and more precise,” said Finch.
“He’s got that experience down underneath his belt starting all nine games, and he’s ready to prove that he’s able to be a dual-threat quarterback,” said Schneiderman.
6’6 310 pound Colton Manser will be huge literally and figuratively on the lines. Crandall, Garrett Moser and Breccans Berns will be some of the key players on the defense at linebacker.
Depth is still a challenge for the Hawks. They have 30 guys on varsity and Oregon is the smallest school in the Big Northern Conference, but the Hawks appear to be better equipped this season to handle that challenge.
“We’re going to try to rotate our guys as best as possible to keep them fresh, but again it’s going to be ironman football,” said Schneiderman. “A lot of these guys are going to be spending the majority of their time on the field offense, defense and special teams.”