The Bend Lava Bears are a team coming off a 2-7 season, while playing one of the toughest schedules in the entire northwest. Their record was somewhat deceiving with losses to #2 Marist , #3 Silverton, #6 Redmond, #8 Mt View, #10 Hermiston and 6a CVC Champ West Salem.
To say that they were happy with the season would be inaccurate, but head coach Matt Craven and his staff will have his guys ready to go come fall. They will lose one of the state’s top quarterbacks in Jonah Koski, but expect some of the young guys to be able to step up right away.
Mt View will be the conference favorite, with Ridgeview bringing back everybody and Summit improving quickly. Redmond loses 30+ seniors from a special 2012 team.
Bend will rely on one of the state’s strongest backs in Hunter McDonald (5-11 185 So. FB/LB), who put up a ridiculous 400 pounds on the bench recently. One of the state’s better sophomore QB’s Cody Anthony (6-1 210 So. QB) says, ” Hunter started at fullback and brought it to Silverton, West Salem, and Redmond..He’s the guy who is going to put the other team on their back whether he has the ball or not”.
Koski chimed in, “McDonald is an absolute stud, he will run through anything”. Two other running backs that will get in the mix are Christian Johnson (5-9 170 So. RB) and Jordan Neelon (5-9 160 So. RB). Johnson is a kid that can run with power, where Neelon is more of a threat to take it to the house on any given play.
Sami Godlove (5-10 165 Jr. WR/CB) returns as a two way starter from last season and should be the primary return man. Joel Johnson (5-11 175 Jr. WR ) is a track kid that started at safety for the Lava Bears last year, while Brandon Gilbert (6-3 175 So. WR/S) brings size and overall athleticism to a team that must be able exploit its receivers.
Anthony says, “I love throwing to Brandon because he will go up and get it, and Joel is a strong kid with good size and outstanding hands”. He continued, “Sami runs hard routes and isn’t afraid to run across the middle, he ‘s very talented and great to throw to”.
Camden Stoddard (6-0 165 Jr. WR), Quinn Fettig (5-10 150 So. WR), and Andrew Vanesen (5-8 150 So. WR) are three of the other kids that will be key at the skill positions moving forward. Fettig is one of the better lacrosse athletes in the northwest, and Stoddard is only in his second year of football and has a lot of potential. Vanesen is a three sport athlete and will compliment the other wide outs.
Most of these kids have a lot to prove moving forward. Talented sophomore QB Anthony has been impressive over the off season, traveling across the state to come train with us in Portland and the other top athletes from around the region . He will compete with Jr. QB Lake Larsen (5-10 165 Jr. QB) for time at the quarterback spot.
More then any other position, the Bears will need their line to step up and protect this season. Brad Deswert (6-4 255 Jr. OL) will be one of the bigger O lineman in the conference and Steffan Kearsley (6-5 260 Jr. OL/DL), Nolan Holmgren (5-10 235 So. OL/DL) and David O’Connor (6-2 230 So. OL/DL) will go both ways. Bend lacked much experience up front last season, and should do much better with some added size in 2013.
Defensively Drue Bernstein (6-1 275) is one of the better players in the IMC, and will need to be lights out for the Lava Bears to compete. He will team with strong man McDonald, and another very talented returning linebacker in Tanner Hansen (5-10 180 So. LB) who was in on a majority of tackles last season.
We are looking forward to seeing a host of the Bend kids out at our NEI/Barton Camp and Combine April 14th, with some of the other top athletes from around the region. The Lava Bears are anxious to get back to work and improve on last year.
The talent is there but the overall experience is not, as this up coming off season will be very important for the kids from Central Oregon. Its a class community with a quality coaching staff and a group we look forward to following.