Lake Oswego football ready for more success in 2019
*This story has been corrected
There's no other way to say it — the Lake Oswego football team just about did it all in 2018.
The Lakers rolled to the Special District 5 title with an unbeaten record. They kept the heat on in the playoffs and won their first Class 6A state title since 2011. And they came within one controversial late-September contest of going unbeaten for the year.
While everyone knows that Lake Oswego would like to do that all over again in 2019, they also know that the Lakers graduated players who earned first-team all-Three Rivers League honors at seven spots and all-league honors at 16 total.
And Lake Oswego knows it.
"Health and depth are the key," said longtime Laker coach Steve Coury. "Can we stay healthy and develop depth? That and developing the offensive line are the keys."
While the Lakers' graduation losses might seem staggering, Lake Oswego still brings back a ton of talent on offense, that unit led by 2018 TRL and Oregon 6A Player of the Year Casey Filkins.
A year ago, Filkins (5-foot-11, 195 pounds) — a Cal-Berkeley commit — led the Lakers in rushing with 1,160 yards and 28 touchdowns on 171 carries. He was Lake Oswego's second-leading receiver with 48 catches for another 869 yards and nine more TDs. And in LO's 34-27 win over Sheldon in the state title contest, Filkins rushed 16 times for 90 yards and four touchdowns, caught five passes for another 77 yards and his team's other TD, and also caught a two-point conversion pass.
"He's a winner. He's a leader. He's a great football player," Coury said of Filkins. "We'll find ways to get the ball in his hands."
Other returning all-leaguers on offense include senior first-team wide receiver Thomas Dukart (6-2, 180 — he made 48 catches for 868 yards and 11 touchdowns in '18), senior second-team tight end Marshall McGuire (6-3, 210), senior second-team tackle Tiger Shanks (6-6, 315) and senior honorable mention wide receiver Joe Hutson (6-1, 170).
Joining Shanks and McGuire on the offensive line will be fellow returner Cody Carlson (6-2, 255) — a senior right guard — senior left tackle Niko Smith (6-1, 280), junior left guard Bailey Jaramillo (6-6, 320), and sophomore Austin Leykam (6-1, 230) and junior Jacob Johnstone (6-1, 215) at center.
Also ready for time on the line are sophomore Gavin McGuire (5-11, 195), senior Carson Bass (6-1, 240) and junior Geordie McNeill (5-9, 190).
"We're trying to develop some guys, some starters — center is obviously a key — and we're moving people around in a building deal," Coury said. "Tiger and Cody are the guys that have played, along with Niko Smith, but it's a new line."
Along with Marshall McGuire — "Marshall is really good and has a lot of energy," Coury said — junior Hayden Kavanaugh (5-11, 180), junior Zach Mahan (6-2, 215) — he's a transfer from Walla Walla, Washington) — junior Zach Wagner (6-1, 185) and Calvin Heimbegner (6-0, 180) will all see action at tight end.
On the outside, the Lakers will look to a talented and seasoned bunch of wide receivers including Dukart, Hutson, Filkins, senior Jonas Hunter (6-0, 170), junior Malcolm Williams (6-1, 155), junior Aaron Olson (6-0, 175) and senior Max McNown (5-7, 150).
"That's a strength of the team," Coury said of his receivers.
Joining Filkins at running back will be junior Tyler Miller (6-0, 200) and sophomore Gabe Olvera (5-9, 165), while junior J.J. Woodin (6-4, 210) — a transfer from Westview — takes the helm at quarterback. Also ready for time at quarterback is sophomore Jack Layne (6-0, 185).
"J.J. is still working on figuring out what we do, but he's got some experience, he's got a strong arm, he's a great leader and a great teammate," Coury said, adding that Woodin's transfer last January was "a huge advantage. He's settling in. He's an impressive kid."
As a whole, Coury thinks there could be big things ahead for his offense if the new line comes together the way he thinks it can.
"If you know football, you know it's those guys up front that make things happen," Coury said. "It may take them a while to develop, but the coaches we have will get them ready to go."
While the Lakers graduated a ton of defensive talent from their state championship team — four of them first-team all-leaguers including Lineman of the Year Mike Mercep — they also bring back some big-time players.
McGuire, Hutson and Dukart lead that group of returners after earning first-team all-TRL honors at defensive end, cornerback and safety, respectively.
McGuire and fellow end Carlson will lead the way on the defensive line, with junior Julian Lopez (6-0, 195) stepping in at noseguard, joined there by senior Jack Schrimsher (6-1, 190) and junior Connor Tolley (5-11, 245), a transfer from California.
"McGuire and Carlson anchor the end of the line," Coury said, adding that Tolley "is a pretty good noseguard. Those guys will set up the front, but we're still looking for some depth."
At linebacker — where the team graduated four all-leaguers — Lake Oswego is almost starting from scratch. At inside linebacker, the Lakers' two most experienced players are senior Connor Willihnganz (5-10, 195) and senior Cooper Winn (5-10, 180), along with Mahan and McNeill.
On the outside, LO will look to Miller, junior Nathan Knox (6-0, 175), Wagner, Layne and Heimbegner.
"It's a good group of guys, but they're replacing a very good group of guys. They've got some very big shoes to fill," Coury said.
In the backfield, however, the Lakers will definitely be ready to go. In addition to first-teamers Hutson and Dukart, Lake Oswego will call on Williams and McNown at safety, and Hunter and Olson at cornerback.
"They're all really good guys back there," Coury said. "They have good speed, good athleticism and a lot of experience."
"We've got the makings of a good group," Coury added. "We lost a lot of linebackers, but if we replace those, I think we should be pretty good."
To see the Lakeridge team preview, click here.
To see the West Linn team preview, click here.
*The initial version of this story did not correctly list Zach Wagner among Lake Oswego's tight ends; further, Zach Mahan is a transfer to the program from Walla Walla, Washington.
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