Jake Ringrose has the speed to succeed at EP.

Lots of questions to answer for EP

EAGLE POINT — Eagle Point faces numerous uncertainties entering the 2007 campaign. Coach Harry Hedrick knows what needs to be done to improve on last year's 2-8 record, the question is, can his Eagles do what's needed?

"We have lots of question marks," says Hedrick. "We're going to have to execute our ball control offense. We can't be in long yardage situations. Then we have to tackle better. A lot of that is desire. We have to play with more emotion on defense."

After finishing fourth in the initial year of the five-team Southern Sky Conference, the sixth-year Eagle Point coach is expecting better.

Hedrick had to endure an Eagles defense that allowed an average of 32 points a game. Agonizingly, Hedrick watched Roosevelt running back Isaiah Johnson gash his defense for 444 yards on the ground and seven touchdowns and Sacred Heart Cathedral's Lonbaye Yarnway gain 335 yards to go with five TDs.

Josh Wolfram, a former Southern Oregon University assistant and son of past South Medford High defensive coordinator Jerry Wolfram, takes over the reigns of the Eagle Point defense. Hedrick hopes the younger Wolfram's enthusiasm translates to a more effective unit.

"We've changed our system by simplifying things a little bit," says Hedrick. "We want to limit what we do on defense rather than having too many things."

EP's defense will be built around senior safety Jake Ringrose. The all-conference performer has demonstrated the desire that makes him a leader.

"(Ringrose) can run and he's physical," says Hedrick. "He's got a good motor."

Hedrick hopes to see improvement from returning starting cornerback Jon Taylor, who should have more confidence from the experience gained last season.

At linebacker, Brian Martinez, moving up from the JV, and sophomore Steve Josephson show good potential.

"They play fast and are physical guys," says Hedrick. "They're more active and should add quite a bit to the defense."

In the trenches, tackle Austin Rowley returns as a starter with end Zack Heppner. Tackle Dexter Novak, who started on offense, will join the other two as the Eagles' top line prospects.

"We're not real big, but we have a little bit of speed," says Hedrick.

On offense, Hedrick is changing the Eagles' style from more of an option team to a possession passing attack.

With experienced wide receivers Ryan Smith, Garrett Davis and Tyler Kinert, the EP coach plans to capitalize on their abilities. Also Taylor provides another pass-catching option.

"We're going to look at a ball control passing game, we want to move the chains," explains Hedrick. "We're going to throw a little more because of our receiving corps. I think it's a little easier to pass protect and we're a little thin on the offensive line."

Senior Scott Erickson takes over from two-year starter Brandt Nevin at quarterback. Erickson has been in the program for three years, and his accuracy and arm strength have improved from lots of work in summer passing leagues. Hedrick is confident Erickson has a grasp of what the offense is trying to accomplish.

Ringrose will be called upon as the No. 1 running back, with Heppner also in the mix.

"(Ringrose) brings a toughness from the defense," says Hedrick. "He can help us in a number of ways. He's a versatile player."

Novak is a two-year starter on the offensive line and Rowley, who added 30 to 40 pounds, also played tackle on the first unit last season. Chris Omotoy, Kyle Gonzalez and Andrew Dorman have the edge to fill the other three interior line spots.

"We're spending some extra time with the line to learn the passing game since we've changed from being more of an option team," says Hedrick. "We're going to use screens and that type of stuff. The receivers running after the catch will be critical.

"I think we'll score," adds Hedrick. "I feel pretty good about that side of the ball."

Like Jeopardy game show host Alex Trebek, Hedrick has the answers. But can his players handle the questions?

Reach reporter Frank Silow at 776-4480, or e-mail

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