EAGLE POINT — The Eagle Point football team had a breakthrough season last fall, and the Eagles are optimistic about this year despite graduating several key players.
Expect to see a physical, deep squad that will run the football often, Eagle Point head coach Seth Womack said.
He saw 21 seniors graduate, including 17 Midwestern League all-league selections and six who will be playing college ball. That impressive class included three running backs who combined for more than 2,000 yards rushing.
Those Eagles went 7-3 overall, had a shot at winning the league crown with a 5-2 record and made the state playoffs for the first time since 1997.
All that considered, he's excited for his newest collection of talent.
"We are optimistic for sure," said Womack, who shared MWL coach of the year honors with Ashland's Charlie Hall last season. "We had a good spring and summer. The kids are progressing nicely. We are young, and we went into camp knowing we had to replace all those seniors. I think we've answered that question without a doubt. We walked away from camp with a good feeling knowing we have some really talented guys to fill those roles. The kids are very capable and this is one of our deeper teams."
The Eagles' ground attack will be led by juniors Noah Page (one of just two returning starters on offense), Dante Lallo, Alex Carrillo and Eric Parliment and freshman Devin Bradd. They'll get the carries once reserved for standout graduates Jaxson Jones, Bennett Rodgers and Tanner Jostad.
"We are going to be very similar to last year running the ball, but I think we're deeper than last year and as good as you could ask for," Womack said. "We don't run a traditional spread, so you won't see an Oregon or Southern Oregon University style. You can call it what you want — it's a type of wing offense, you could call it the Eagle wing. It fits our kids and puts us in a good position. Teams will know when they get us that they are gonna be in for a physical game offensively and defensively."
A tough offensive line will help pave the way, Womack said. That group includes senior center Clayton Fraughton (an MWL honorable mention), senior Mike Wilt and juniors Noah Linder, Andrew Barlowe, Charley Jacobson, Hayden Gainey and Rylan Morgan.
"Our offensive line is really big and really athletic," Womack said.
Junior quarterback Cameron Morgan takes over for graduated signal caller Nate Page. He's also an exceptional cornerback, Womack said.
"He's done a great job and lived up to the position," Womack said.
Noah Page (Nate's younger brother) should also make an impact at receiver and defensive back (he was an MWL honorable mention as both). He had 206 yards receiving, 214 rushing and scored five touchdowns while making 28 tackles (including 20 solo) on defense.
The defense will also feature senior inside linebacker Jimmy Kinyon, who had 29 tackles (18 solo) last fall, and junior inside linebacker Carrillo.
Junior Drew Hodges has been solid in practices as a tight end, linebacker and lineman, and Lallo (outside linebacker) and Parliment (free safety) should make a difference on defense too, Womack said.
The Eagles opened at home Thursday with Glencoe and travel to Ridgeview next week. They kick off their league season at Springfield on Sept. 15.
Eagle Point's conference home opener comes on Sept. 22, when it welcomes Thurston.
"My stance on the the league hasn't changed over the years," said Womack, whose program bounced back from an 0-9 performance in 2014 and 2-7 mark in 2015. "Even our No. 6 or No. 7 teams are tough. There aren't any easy games. Look at Marist (who went 4-5) last year. They beat us Week 9, and also played (state champion) Lebanon tough. From top to bottom, our teams can go out and compete."
— Reach reporter Dan Jones at 541-776-4499 or firstname.lastname@example.org.