Every fall brings with it numerous holidays.
However, nothing quite draws Oregonian’s attention like football season. Whether it’s Friday beneath the lights, or a perfect autumn Saturday afternoon, local schools compete and show off their talents in the wonderful northwestern weather.
When it comes to football recruiting, especially for powerhouses such as Oregon and Oregon State, it comes as no surprise that class recruits stay local. According to the University of Ducks class ranking, local prospects usually rank second in D1 signings.
With many players going on to play for local universities or elsewhere, it’s always interesting to see where they got their start. As football season nears playoffs, here are the Top 5 High School Football Teams In Oregon All-Time:
The Pirates split the trophy in 1954. Not content by a tie, the team won it outright from 1955-56, though it was the middle one that we most remember. Their decade reign was also the last time a school won three consecutive championships.
Of the three teams, the ’55 squad was the only one without a defeat on their schedule.
A stout offensive line led by center Bob Peterson permitted halfbacks Denny Baker (1,000 yards) and Roger Johnson (600 yards) to thrive. The defense allowed only 4.3 points per game and was responsible for five shutouts. Though coach Pete Susick won 235 games over 33 seasons, his ’56 title was his very last state championship.
The Jefferson Democrats were undefeated for nearly three years, eventually falling to Medford in a low scoring 7-6 in the 1959 championship game. They were best in their second undefeated campaign, accounting for seven touchdowns, and coming out on top of each game by at least two scores. Quarterback Terry Baker led the offense, eventually earning a 1962 Heisman Trophy at Oregon State, and was the No. 1 overall pick in the 1963 NFL draft by the LA Rams. The run game was so skilled, that Baker threw only 96 passes all season.
Halfback/defensive back Mel Renfro accounted for 711 yards and 16 touchdowns, perfecting the definition of two-way All-American. Later on, he earned NFL Hall of Fame honors as a 10-time Pro Bowl defensive back for the Dallas Cowboys. His older brother Raye Renfro rushed for a team-high 1401 yards and 29 touchdowns.
The team still garners national praise and are often included in the very best national high football teams of all-time. Racially mixed teams were unlikely in the northwest at the time, but coach Tom DeSylvia molded them into champions for social progress.
Roseburg gets credit here because coach Thurman Bell said it himself. The veteran coach told his locker room at the time that they were the best team in state history.
The Indians completed back-to-back 14-0 seasons. Many consider the second in the run as their greatest, with 13 of the 25 positions on the Class 4A first team belonging to Roseburg’s roster. Four players were two-way All-Americans, including running back/linebacker Brad Loomis, tight end/defensive lineman Mark Walson, and defensive/offensive linemen Chris Gibson and Sandon Duncan.
The defense was formidable, allowing only 6.7 points per game.
In the final against previously undefeated Oregon City, the defense held Pioneers running back Jason Taroli to 32 yards on 18 carries. For the season, the rusher averaged 270 yards in four previous playoff contests.
This was the first of four championships under coach Ken Potter. The Crusaders hadn’t won one since 1968.
Future Oregon State star receiver Mike Hass was the true talent on the field. In a quarterfinal win over then No. 1 Central Catholic, Hass accounted for 230 yards and five touchdowns, as well as scoring on a fumble recovery and an interception return. Overall on the season, Hass had 28 touchdowns and was named the Class 4A offensive player of the year. Junior running back D.J. Jackson totaled 1467 through the regular season and playoffs.
Despite their consistency, Roseburg nearly blew it in the final game. Tied 28-28 to North Medford, Jackson carried on a dozen consecutive, before setting up a go-ahead 43-yard field goal by John Dailey. It wasn’t a sure thing; Dailey had already missed an extra point in the second quarter.
Coach Potter had coached for 14 years before finally earning his championship. He is currently second in the state on the all-time coaching wins list.
The following year could just as easily had made this list. This title team was the school’s first in 60 years. They were one of the best in our state offensively.
The Rams gained 780 total yards against Tigard in a 83-49 semifinal victory. Stanford-bound Cameron Scarlett accounted for 356 yards and five touchdowns; Oregon State standout Ryan Nall had 320 yards and four scores. In fact, both backs were completely unstoppable all season, chipping in for a state record 764 points.
When the season ended, Nall was honored as the 2013 Class 6A football offensive player of the year. Additionally, Coach Steve Pyne was named the Coach of the Year, and defensive lineman Connor Humphreys the 2013 Class 6A football defensive player of the year.
The following year saw the Rams return, losing only one game with their stud offensive line mostly intact. Since 2013, the team has claimed five championships, with the most recent squad going undefeated last year and finishing the season against Tualatin. The program is considered by many as the premium high school football team in our state.
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