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By Pat Perkins

Observer Staff Writer

Last years success has boosted expectations for this years Powder Valley High School football team.

The 2000 team reached the state title game only to lose 50-12 to Dufur. Seven seniors are gone from that team, but the Badgers havent fallen off much.

Theres definitely an expectation to do well, first-year head coach Alan Stanfield said. Ive been trying to push the need to work hard (because) theres going to be some tough teams in our league this year.

Developing a sense of urgency for this years Badgers could be Stanfields greatest challenge. Never mind that he will start a sophomore at quarterback; the Badgers, ranked second on one preseason eight-man football poll, have plenty of experience.

Those guys who experienced it last year are rubbing off on the younger kids, who think, Ah, Ive got three more years to do it, Stanfield said.

Stanfield has 31 players out for football this season, up from the 26 who came out last year. Five of those are returning starters, including all-Observer athlete Brody Turner.

Turner led the Badgers with 132 points, which included 14 touchdowns. Turner will start in the backfield as running back, but Stanfields offense the new head coach was the offensive coordinator last season under Dan Willitts has the quarterback frequently throwing to all backs. Turner caught 11 touchdown passes a year ago and ran for seven more.

Senior Riley Martin is another running back/wide receiver, who played just two games last year after breaking his leg in the preseason.

Turner and Riley came in looking really well, Stanfield said. They went to camp at Idaho State, and theyre both coming in strong and in shape. (Turner) and Riley are pretty dedicated.

The teams other two seniors can also catch the ball. Ryan Browne will be at wide receiver, and John Dean has moved to tight end from the guard position he played last year.

Delivering the ball to them will be sophomore Todd Baxter, who played some varsity defense last season but only attempted two varsity passes.

I dont know if its a weakness, but its definitely a concern, starting a sophomore quarterback, Stanfield said. Hes definitely a really good runner and is making strides with his passing game. But you dont know how a sophomore is going to react in his first games.

At least Baxter will take snaps from a veteran classmate. Sophomore Rick Stephens started at center every game last season and will be flanked by two juniors, Rusty Fincher and Brad Feik.

We have the luxury a little bit in that we can play those three on the offensive line and they dont have to play defense, so we should have fresh legs, Stanfield said.

The chief defensive lineman will be junior nose guard Kylee Simonis, another veteran of the 2000 campaign.

Martin will lead the defense at middle linebacker, with Turner out at defensive end and Baxter back at free safety. Dean will be the other defensive end and Browne will play at outside linebacker along with sophomore Deven Thompson.

The season starts Friday evening with the first game of the inaugural Oregon High School 8-Man Football Classic. Powder Valley plays Perrydale at 7:30 p.m. at Stanfield High School.

Saturdays games in the series feature Powers vs. Condon at 10 a.m. at Hermiston, Alsea vs. Dufur at 12:30 p.m. at Hermiston, Days Creek vs. Echo at 3 p.m. at Stanfield and St. Paul vs. Cove at 5:30 p.m. at Stanfield.

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