Tigers ready to kick off new era
While the Newberg High School football team graduated a talented senior class in 2016, one that was especially dynamic offensively with do-everything Anthony Adams at quarterback and a stable of quick running backs, the cupboard was left far from bare for first-year coach Kevin Hastin.
The former Portland State player believes he has standout players in just about every position group and will rely heavily on this year's seniors as he installs new offensive and defensive schemes and lays the foundation for the program's culture this fall.
"Overall, I'm pretty impressed," Hastin said. "We've got to keep improving because we have some work in front of us."
The offense will be led by senior quarterback Garrett Myers, who saw the field a fair amount last year both spelling Adams and taking snaps with him so that Adams could be deployed as a receiver. Such was the case in the last-minute touchdown pass Myers connected with Adams on to upset No. 3 South Medford in the first round of the 6A state playoffs last year.
"Our quarterback play is really good with Myers," Hastin said. "He's a great leader and takes care of the football. He continues to impress me."
Hastin is also especially excited to pair Myers with speedy running back Byron Morris in his pistol wing-T offense, which is both an effective platform for the passing game and a efficient running attack that uses deception to keep defenses on their heels. Morris was injured for portions of the 2016 season, but will be a major weapon behind a senior-dominated offensive line that is gelling.
"Our offensive line is coming together," Hastin said. "The great part is they are a unit. There isn't a glaring standout or weaker guy. They're all solid and they're playing as one."
Senior Tristan Osborn will be a key figure on both the offensive and defensive lines, the latter of which will feature a five-man rotation.
Hastin has praised senior linebackers Cam Sutton, Lawrence Lundgren and Taylen Reid for how they've taken command of the second level in his 3-3-5 defense.
"When they're healthy, they're pretty darn good," Hastin said. "I think they're the strength of our defense. They're three very athletic linebackers that like to hit."
The Tigers are coming off an up-and-down performance in scrimmages versus West Salem and McKay, but Hastin said it was an excellent learning experience for the team as a whole.
"I was proud of how the team came back in that second scrimmage," Hastin said. "There were glimpses of good execution and there are definitely some things we have to clean up."
Newberg was without a few key players, including Morris, Sutton and Lundgren, so they will not only be boosted by their return, but got some encouraging performances from other players who seized the opportunity to show they can be contributors this fall.
Perhaps most notable among that group was running back Jack Evans, who carved up the McKay defense on several long runs and rushed for a pair of touchdowns.
Even as a running back, Evans was excited to see the potential of Newberg's passing attack during the scrimmages, which included two touchdown receptions by senior wide receiver Davis Smith.
"We're kind of untested and we don't know what we can do, so it was good practice for us," Hastin said. "I think it was a good experience for the younger guys."