SCIO — Scio High lost eight seniors and a few others off last year's football team that reached the 3A state quarterfinals.
If recent history is to be trusted, the team will reload and make another deep playoff run. After all, Scio has reached at least the quarterfinals nine times in the last 11 years, with seven semifinal appearances and two championships included in that stretch.
“We’ve always had a good program,” said Justin Guest, the Loggers’ second-year coach and a former Scio standout. “People always seem to step up, and we just need to pick out the people we need it to work and be pretty tough every year. I’m hoping we’ll have the same thing this year.”
Continuing that run could be a challenge with a lack of experienced linemen. Returners on the line include Josiah Nordstrom, a second team all-state selection in 2018, and fellow senior Anthony Harper.
The Loggers have a familiar face in a new position in senior David Simmons, who has made the move from quarterback to help out the line.
“I’m one of the bigger ones on our team now, so I have to do what have to do,” Simmons said. “Anything that helps the team out. I knew I had to switch up positions this year because we lost a bunch of our big guys.”
Scio still runs the double-wing offense, a multi-directional running scheme that involves every player on the field blocking.
“The quarterback in our offense doesn’t throw the ball much. They’re essentially a lead blocker,” Guest said. “(Simmons has) always had a knack for it and feel for it, and he’s always been one of our toughest kids. It’s meant for him.”
Junior Kade Mask returns at running back. He had nearly 1,000 yards in five league games last fall.
Mask says he’s feeling stronger after adding about 15 pounds in the offseason to get to 140.
“I feel like I got faster and a little bit bigger, which was better than last year, because I was pretty small,” he said, noting that defenders were picking him up off the ground.
Guest has confidence that Mask is capable of leading the offense after sharing the ball-carrying load last season.
“We’re expecting big things out of Kade,” the coach said. “He’s putting the work in and showing up every day, working super hard. Hoping he picks up right where he left off last year.”
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Also expected to carry the ball is Jacob Mask, Kade’s cousin and a state champion wrestler who didn’t play football last fall.
With Simmons’ move, the Loggers will have a new quarterback. That will likely be freshman Jace Aguilar, who has been in competition with a few others.
“The new quarterback, he’s stepping in and doing his job really well. Good to see,” Kade Mask said. “I expected not as much as he’s doing but he’s doing really well for us.”
Scio plays in a jamboree at Monroe on Friday and starts the regular season hosting Molalla the following Friday, Sept. 6. The Loggers begin 3A Special District 1 East play Oct. 4 at Salem Academy.
Guest says the expectations for the jamboree are straightforward.
“We’re just looking to have a really good starting point for the season. We’re looking to have no mistakes and do what we do,” he said.
When he replaced Scio alum Kyle Braa, his former coach, to start last season, Guest continued the tradition of head coaches with familiarity and belief in the program.
Guest said he didn’t want to come in and change a whole bunch but still wanted to keep his mind open to tweaking something if he thought it was needed. But if it isn’t broke, why fix it, he added.
The double wing, with the players growing up in the system, has provided sustained success.
“Me and all my coaches (many Scio graduates) just know it so well, and all the adjustments,” Guest said. “Maybe a kid can’t do this, but he can do something else. We’re able to change it year to year to kind of suit our personnel. Even when it seems like you can’t, we can just enough to make something work, it seems.”
So the job continues, for everyone in the program, to add to the school’s on-field success and set the table for the players coming up.
“We don’t expect it,” Kade Mask said. “We work hard to get there. It’s definitely something we work really hard to get.”