MAUPIN – In one year, the South Wasco County Redsides turned a 3-3 record in independent play, to a 7-2 record and a 2018 playoff berth as a first-year 6-man football program.
With the co-Player of the Year Garrett Olson back for his junior campaign, and all-leaguers Timo Hisatake, Tanner Davis, Bobby Kately, Eli Malefyt and Nick Brunson returning, the Redsides are poised to take another step up the 6-man ladder this fall.
“I think last year was a little bit of a surprise to me, and at the same time, it wasn’t,” Davis said. “I knew that we had a lot of skill, it just took a while to patch it together and figure out how to play well with each other. I think this year, we are definitely coming out swinging. We are going to be an aggressive team, and we can go a long way. I think we could possibly take it because everybody wants it, and everybody knows their plays.”
On the year, Olson played nine games and contributed big plays from several positions.
At the quarterback position, he completed 31 of 56 passes for 578 Yards and 13 touchdowns.
When not behind the center, Olson rushed 70 times for 772 yards with 13 touchdowns, and he hauled in 24 passes for 429 yards and six scores.
On special teams, he converted on 80 percent of his two-point conversion kicks, and totaled 46 Tackles, eight interceptions and hit the end zone three times.
Olson was named to the first team as a running back, added second-team awards for his play as linebacker and kicker, and was an honorable mention pick at punter.
The Redside offense led the six-man ranks with 467 points scored (51.8 a game), but sixth-year head coach Mike Waine plans to tinker with the offense to get more out of his players.
“We are going to build our offense around the strong points of our team,” Waine said. “Our offensive line is going to change a little bit. We graduated a key lineman and one of our leaders from last year (Zane Malefyt), so we are going to add to that, personnel-wise, and move some people around and adjust accordingly. I am a firm believer in building the offense around your team rather than the team around your offense.”
While the core of six returners are expected to log big minutes on the gridiron, Marshall Bell (senior), Tyler Smith (junior), Remington Sheer (sophomore), James Best (freshman) and Dominic Marquez (freshman) will get their chance to contribute in different aspects of a game.
“It is going to take all of us going 100 percent and going all-out on every play with nobody giving up and no one thinking about anything other than our game plan and finding a way to attack our opponents on both sides of the ball,” Olson said.
The Redside defense gave up 147 points across nine tilts, and six times they allowed two scores of less, with two shutouts.
In two losses to Joseph and Echo, SWC was outscored 78-22.
Being able to focus on schemes and offensive adjustments, coach Waine can leave the defensive play calls to defensive coordinator Michael Carter, which is the consistency needed to keep the momentum going.
“Coach Carter’s defense is spot-on. It really is. What he does on the defensive side is magic,” coach Waine said. “We had lots of discussions last year about, ‘do we sit back and wait or do we push through them, and do we use more of an attack-style defense?’ The proof is in the numbers. We did a really good job and didn’t get scored on until the third game last year. So, the transition from last year to this year, we lost a couple of key players in key spots, but we should be deep enough to be able to be as aggressive and as smart of a team.”
The 6-man division added Alsea and Crow, and both Huntington and Harper, along with Sherman and Condon, formed co-operative teams.
In the second year of the OSAA’s pilot program, the 6-man classification will have league playoffs and a crossover round to determine a non-sanctioned state championship.
“After what we did, I think there might be a little bit of pressure, but we just need to go out there ready to give 100 percent all of the time,” Olson said.
“I think that we can push through and we can win. That’s one of our main goals. It has been a long time since our school has gone very far in the playoffs, so I think it would be huge for us if we can play well enough to win a state championship,” he said.
After Friday’s opener, SWC heads to Gilchrist (2 p.m. on Sept. 20) and travels to Fossil for a league contest versus Mitchell-Spray-Wheeler (1 p.m. on Sept. 26).