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Prep football: Veteran RedHawks look for winning season in 2021

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Sophomores have filled South Albany football’s starting lineups in large numbers the past two seasons, resulting in some difficult results on the scoreboard as the players went through learning and growth processes at the varsity level.

The 2021 campaign provides a drastic change, and the RedHawks are ready to take advantage of their experience.

“I think we want to prove that we’re not just the stomping mat. That we can actually do some of the stomping ourselves,” said junior Kaden Younger, who will start his second season at quarterback.

Co-head coach Jeff Louber liked what he saw from his team when it gathered after an unusually quick turnaround following the late finish to the 2020-21 athletic year in the state.

More than 40 players turned out on average to work out four days a week, both in the weight room and on the field. Once practice officially started, that number grew to 65 to 70, which will allow South to field two teams this fall.

“Our kids worked really, really hard in the weight room. I have a crew this year that’s committed to being the best version of themselves that they can be. I’m really excited this season,” said Louber, who will share coaching duties with David Younger.

“I think the strength of our team is our collectiveness. This summer was really a great summer for us to get together and have a renewed commitment to each other and to the team in general.”

Younger spent last season as an assistant coach at Willamette University in Salem following seven seasons as the RedHawks’ head coach with Louber on his staff. Kaden Younger is David Younger’s son. Maxwell Louber, Jeff’s son and a South junior fullback and middle linebacker, is also on the team.

The RedHawks have a long list of players with vast experience, including senior slotback/outside linebacker Tyler Seiber. He’ll be asked to carry a heavy load for the offense.

“He’s very athletic and the kids look up to him,” coach Louber said. “He’s really put it on his shoulders this year to be a vocal leader as a lead-by-example kind of kid.”

Other veterans include Jedidiah “Diah” Koller, a junior slot receiver, safety and outside linebacker; junior offensive tackle and inside linebacker Jesse Bass; senior offensive lineman Matt Cobb; senior center and defensive lineman Ramie Halbrook; senior wide receiver and cornerback Devin “DJ” Jones; senior safety Kellen Hanson; and junior lineman Howard Yost.

Coach Louber says Halbrook is the team’s best defensive lineman. Max Louber, Cobb, Halbrook, Jones and Yost are all three-year starters. Coach Louber credits Jones for stepping up as a leader and being the “voice of the team.”

“I’d say we’re coming out with a chip on our shoulder,” said Jones, whose team won two games in 2019 and went winless in a truncated six-game season last spring. “We have something to prove. We have a very well-rounded team right now. It seems like something to be reckoned with, I guess.”

Coach Louber praises the offensive line for the collective work it put in to improve its skills.

Seiber says starting the season with an experienced quarterback in Kaden Younger is a big plus.

“It’s pretty nice, I’m not going to lie, because he already knows the offense and he’s been around this team his whole life pretty much,” Seiber said. “He comes back and he knows everything, he knows the routes” and can help teammates who forget their assignments.

Coach Louber agreed, adding that Younger had a “really good summer” in 7-on-7 play.

“He was making some really good reads,” the coach said. “His arm has always been very strong. But he’s increasingly accurate this year.”

Coach Louber was most impressed by his quarterback’s improved ability in reading the defense while leading South’s veer offense.

The RedHawks open their season Friday at Franklin in Portland. They host North Salem the following week then begin Mid-Willamette Conference (5A Special District 3) play Sept. 17 at Silverton.

Jesse Sowa can be reached via email at jesse.sowa@lee.net or on Twitter, @JesseSowaGT.

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