CAMAS VALLEY — Where do the Hornets go from here?
The Camas Valley football program lost 10 seniors who were part of the most successful run in school history. From 2010-13, the Hornets compiled a 51-3 record while appearing in three Class 1A eight-man state championship games and winning two of them under Eli Wolfe.
Gone are the likes of Weston Tilton, Caleb Lindsey and Matt Thompson. It’s an opportunity for some others — such as Richard Powell, Jake Gallagher and Tylan Stoffal — to step to the forefront.
Powell, Gallagher and senior Kai Wolfe are the only returning starters off last year’s club that turned in another fine season with a 12-1 mark, but fell short of its goal with a 66-44 loss to Lowell in the state semifinals. That ended Camas Valley’s 39-game winning streak that began at the start of the 2011 season.
“We did lose a lot of good athletes, a lot of good football players,” said Eli Wolfe, beginning his 15th season as head coach. “Their dads played in this program, and we’re going through a lot of history and tradition. We’re trying to get some of the younger and newer kids to understand what it’s all about.
“So far, I’ve really liked what I’ve seen. They’ve put forth the time and effort it takes to be successful and I believe if they keep doing that they’ll be successful.”
Coach Wolfe welcomed a turnout of 20 players on Aug. 18. The Hornets have extra practice time because their season opener isn’t until Sept. 12, when they travel to Lowell for a nonleague contest.
“I’d prefer to play the second week, but we’ll have an opportunity to go through lots of teaching,” Eli Wolfe said. “We can get football smart and understand what our objective is, what our main goal is. Lowell will be a great test to see where we’re at.”
The players want to keep the success going, despite less talent and experience on the roster.
“I played with those (graduated) seniors since I was in the second grade, so this year’s going to be different and we’ll see how it goes,” Kai Wolfe said. “I expect we’ll be pretty decent. We’re young, but still have some athletic ability.”
“We’re underneath those seniors, but we’ve got a lot of talent,” Powell, a junior, added. “We’ve all been playing together a long time and I think we’re going to surprise people.
“We’ve got a lot of hard-working guys and will go out and earn everything we get. Everybody has a chance to make a new name for themselves. I expect us to play well, play as a team.”
Kai Wolfe (5-11, 170) is a returning starter at linebacker and was a first-team all-league selection. He opened last year as the starting running back, but missed some games due to injuries and played defense only at the end of the season. Still, he accumulated nearly 500 yards of offense as a rusher and receiver and made second-team all-Skyline.
Powell (6-0, 171) and Gallagher (5-11, 145), the latter a sophomore, were the starting ends on defense and each received honorable mention all-league.
“We have to find some new kids who want to hit,” Kai Wolfe said, “but I think they’ll step up and fill the holes.”
“We can put eight guys out there who can fly around and play football,” coach Wolfe said.
Junior Tylan Stoffal (6-0, 155) replaces Josh Mattox at quarterback and will direct the offense. Stoffal gained some valuable playing time last year as a sophomore and everyone seems confident in his ability.
“I see great things coming out of Stoffal,” coach Wolfe said. “He throws a great ball. He had a great July in those (summer) passing games. I think if we put some pieces around him we’ll be in good shape.”
“He sees the field well. Seeing how he handles the pressure will be the key,” Kai Wolfe said.
Kai Wolfe and Gallagher will lead the running game. Coach Wolfe also expects juniors Jesse Duncan (5-8, 160) and Tyler Deadman (5-6, 155) to contribute.
At end, the Hornets will have freshman Bentley Grove (6-3, 170), junior Stephen Grove (6-1, 165) and senior Nick House (5-11, 165).
The top candidates for the line include Powell and junior Dylin Weickum (5-9, 160) at guards, and senior Keeghan Lally (5-11, 230) at center.
Deadman, House and Lally are all first-year players at C.V.
“We won’t have the breakaway speed we’ve had in the past (on offense), so we’ll try to do it inch by inch,” Eli Wolfe said. “The guys up front will be a key. We’re much smaller, but we’ll be fairly quick and try some different things.”
Camas Valley will be member of Special District 2 West this season along with Butte Falls, Days Creek, Elkton, Glendale and Powers.
“I’m super excited about it and thrilled that we have more teams in Douglas County playing eight-man football,” coach Wolfe said. “I think there will be some great rivalries and competition.”
Head coach: Eli Wolfe (15th year, 86-46).
Assistants: Pete Dancer, Chad Bachmeier, Dan Bachmeier, Bill Storey, Jeremy Stoffal.
Last year: 12-1, 8-0 Skyline League (first); lost to Lowell in Class 1A state semifinals.
Returning starters: Offense 0, defense 3.
Top returning players: Kai Wolfe, sr., RB/LB; Richard Powell, jr., OL/DE; Jake Gallagher, soph., RB/DE; Tylan Stoffal, jr., QB/S.
Others to watch: Keeghan Lally, sr., OL/DL; Nick House, sr., E/LB; Dylin Weickum, jr., OL/DL; Jesse Duncan, jr., RB/DB; Tyler Deadman, jr., RB/LB; Stephen Grove, jr., E/DE; Bentley Grove, fr., E/DB.
Sept. 12 – At Lowell, 7 p.m.
Sept. 26 – *At Glendale, 7 p.m.
Oct. 3 – *Days Creek, 4 p.m.
Oct. 10 – *Butte Falls, 4 p.m.
Oct. 17 – *At Elkton, 3 p.m.
Oct. 25 – *Powers, 1 p.m.
Oct. 31-Nov. 1 – TBA
* — Denotes league game