While some may think that The Dalles will be headed towards major reconstruction due to the loss of 15 seniors, the cupboard is far from empty to say the least.
The freshman team, coached by Jim Taylor and Daunte Gouge, hit the field against junior varsity groups that were primarily comprised of freshmen, sophomores and some juniors and amassed a 4-3-1 record this past fall, so there is plenty to look forward to.
Some of the top freshman team performers included Kade Wilson, Riley Brock, Ian Preston, Jordan Swyers, Styles DeLeon, Joseph Codding, Mynoah I’aulualo and Marquies Sagapolutele, to name a few.
Manatu Crichton-Tunai will be back from a knee injury suffered earlier this season.
“I was impressed by the freshmen we had up practicing with us,” said TD senior Okean Green. “The younger guys work hard, even though they didn’t play much at all. They work hard and play hard in junior varsity and they are going to continue to do that. They are going to try to make the people in town and their parents proud and make them into believers. Just like we did.”
That team executed the offensive playbook devised by varsity head coach Andy Codding and defensive coordinator Rich Belanger, so they should hit the ground running for the 2020 season.
With the smattering of youth, the Riverhawks are expected to have an experienced core of Ben Schanno, Jesse Larson, Jaxon Pullen, Dusty Dodge, Skyler Leeson, Taylor Morehouse, Jesus Arceo, Francisco Medina, Alex Gonzalez, Peyton Beeks and Majestic I’aulualo on board.
“The younger guys are going to have some spots to fill for one, especially with so many of us seniors leaving,” Green added. “There’s a lot of expectations for them next year and I feel like our town and the people will support them.”
The freshmen worked big wins over Crook County (16-0), Woodburn (50-0), Estacada (36-14) and Madras (38-16), and tied with Hood River Valley (0-0).
The three losses came against La Grande (22-0), Skyview, Wash. (15-14) and Gladstone (20-16).
TD senior Dalles Seufalemua and the rest of the veterans laid the blueprint for success in leading TD to a 7-5 season with three postseason wins and a playoff berth.
“This freshman and this sophomore class, they are going to be right back here,” Seufalemua said. “They did great and they did their stuff. I think this football team is deserving of respect for years to come.”
Emotional as he walked off the field Saturday following TD’s season-ending state playoff loss to La Grande, all-league senior Mac Abbas lamented the fact that he may be playing his last-ever high school football game.
He is confident in his belief that the underclassmen will continue to build on the program’s legacy for success.
“Those younger guys are going to kick some butt in the next couple of years. I just know it,” Abbas said. “We taught them the way, just like the seniors from the past showed us. Those boys better go get it. They better go win it. I know they have it in them. All they have to do is believe in this process and know that greater things are ahead for them.”