EAGLE POINT — The city of Eagle Point nearly needed an extra health care center last September when a slew of Eagle Point High football players suffered serious injuries before the Eagles had played an official game.
Four starters went down with season-ending injuries in the span of two plays during a jamboree, and nine starters were on the sidelines for several weeks a short time later.
“What could go wrong did go wrong — it was Murphy’s Law for our football team,” said coach Seth Womack.
Womack thought his team had the talent last year to match the 2016 squad that went 7-3 and advanced to the state playoffs. But with so many big guns silenced, the Eagles limped to a 3-6 record.
Most of the players who were injured are back, and healthy, and they’re eager to take the field in Eagle Point’s season-opener against Klamath Union.
“If we can stay healthy we feel like we’re a quality playoff team,” said Womack. “We had a great summer.”
The offseason included a June trip to a team camp at Western Oregon University in Monmouth. Womack said the Eagles more than held their own against quality teams, such as Skyview High of Vancouver, Washington, and Bethel High of Spanaway, Washington.
“One of the (Spanaway) players noticed how physical we were and said it had been awhile since another team had beaten up on them like we did,” he said. “It’s camp football and no one is scheming, but we came out of there being a lot more confident football team.”
The Eagles have the size and the physical prowess to rough up a lot of opponents. Offensive guard Andrew Barlowe and tackle Charlie Jacobson tip the scales at 280 and 275 pounds, respectively, and will lead the charge up front. They were among the few who played every game last season and both were honorable mention all-league. They’ll be supplemented by center Santos Serfin-Godines (245) and tackle Tyler Gove (285).
The rough-and-tumble approach extends to the backfield, where Devin Bradd returns after piling up 971 yards and 13 touchdowns as a freshman a year ago in earning second-team all-conference honors.
“It’s a fistfight every time Devin carries the ball,” Womack said of the 5-10, 195-pounder. “The kid is a rock, and he’s gotten better.”
With the Eagles set to control the ball on the ground with their single-wing attack, Bradd figures to share the running load with 6-1, 200-pound Noah Page, who racked up more than 300 yards last season until he broke his collarbone in the third game.
“I think he was among the state leaders in rushing when he went down,” Womack said of Page. “Like Bradd, Noah’s a big kid, but he’s more of a finesse back. He’s shifty and he’s a very good receiver.
“We’ve got a great 1-2 punch at running back.”
Womack feels equally comfortable at quarterback, where senior Cameron Morgan looks primed for a big season after sitting out the first seven games last year with mononucleosis. In his first appearance in 2017, Morgan passed for more than 300 yards.
“He might be the best quarterback I’ve coached,” said Womack. “He’s got a good arm, he’s accurate, he has the speed to be a dangerous runner and his presence on the field and in the locker room is a big plus for us.”
Anchoring the defense will be linebackers Edgar Bravo and Dante Lallo, cornerback Eric Parliament and end Hayden Gainey, a 6-4, 260-pound senior who held his own against an Oregon State recruit at a one-day camp in Corvallis, said Womack.
“He’s a physical specimen,” the coach said of Gainey. “He demands blockers. He’ll be playing college football next year.”
Other players expecting to contribute include wide receiver Carlos Seiter and tight end Rylan Morgan on offense and outside linebacker Lallo and linemen Drew Hodges and Bryan LaFever on defense.
Eagle Point is in a revamped Midwestern League that now features 12 teams and two divisions. The Eagles are in the South Division along with Ashland, Crater, Churchill, North Eugene and South Eugene.
The North Division features North Bend, Redmond, Ridgeview, Springfield, Thurston and Willamette.
Following the regular season, matchups will be held between the two divisions. Five teams will advance to the state playoffs.
“I doubt we’ll be ranked very high and that’s understandable,” said Womack, “but our kids are out to prove people wrong.”
HEAD COACH: Seth Womack (sixth year, 17-30).
After advancing to the state playoffs two years ago, Eagle Point’s hopes of a repeat were derailed last season by a spate of injuries.
ASSISTANTS: Vinny Gay (offensive line), Josh Fagan (defensive coordinator/defensive backs), Shaun Murgel (inside linebackers), Nathan Helwig (outside linebackers) Jason Deemer (defensive line), Bruce Lemmerman (wide receivers), Chili Swopes (running backs).
2017 LEAGUE RECORD: 2-5 (sixth, MWL).
2017 OVERALL RECORD: 3-6.
PREDICTED FINISH THIS YEAR: Third.
6North Eugene 55
OFFENSE (3): Running back Devin Bradd (5-10, 195, so.), right tackle Charlie Jacobson (6-4, 275, sr.), right guard Andrew Barlowe (6-1, 280, sr.).
DEFENSE (3): Linebacker Edgar Bravo (6-2, 225, sr.), cornerback Eric Parliament (5-9, 170, sr.), end Hayden Gainey (6-4, 260, sr.).
OTHER NOTABLES: Quarterback Cameron Morgan (5-10, 175, sr.), running back Noah Page (6-1, 200, sr.), left tackle Tyler Gove (6-6, 285, sr.), outside linebacker Dante Lallo (5-9, 170, sr.), wide receiver Carlos Seiter (5-10, 180, jr.), tight end Rylan Morgan (6-6, 220, sr.), center Santos Serfin-Godines (6-2, 245, sr.), defensive lineman Drew Hodges (5-10, 185, sr.), defensive lineman Bryan LaFever (5-10, 185, sr.).
Aug. 31at Klamath Union, 7 p.m.
Sept. 7at Redmond, 7 p.m.
Sept. 14SPRINGFIELD, 7 p.m.
Sept. 21at South Eugene, 7 p.m.
Sept. 28ASHLAND, 7 p.m.
Oct. 5CHURCHILL, 7 p.m.
Oct. 12at Crater, 7 p.m.
Oct. 19at North Eugene, 7 p.m.
Reach freelance writer Don Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org