MT. ANGEL — The spark of what Jack Suing can do when healthy should give reason for pause.
The 6-foot-2, 195-pound tight end/linebacker missed most of the 2015 season for Kennedy’s football team, but when he came back for the OSAA Class 2A state semifinals, his presence was felt.
Suing broke his collarbone early in his junior season, but recovered in time for the semifinals.
He caught two passes for 40 yards and a touchdown and recorded 4.5 tackles in a 34-20 win against Stanfield then had nine tackles, second most on the team, in a 48-0 loss to Heppner in the championship game.
“Not being able to play was a very humbling, but I was still there with the guys and it was a great experience,” Suing said. “It was very hard personally, but seeing the team do so well was a huge plus.”
Suing was an All-State tight end as a sophomore, but will transition into a fullback/tight end role this season.
“We’re really looking forward to having him back for a full season,” Kennedy coach Joe Panuke said.
Suing is part of a large group of experienced, strong seniors for the Trojans, including quarterback/defensive back Brett Traeger and running back/defensive back Bishop Mitchell.
Mitchell was first-team all-state on both sides of the ball as a junior and Traeger was a first-team all-state defensive back.
“We know we’ve got some good players coming back and the expectations are high,” Panuke said. “The kids think they’ll have another good year.”
The veterans with playoff experience have the potential to lead Kennedy on another deep run.
“I’m hoping to help lead our team because we lost some good seniors last year,” Suing said. “Last year was good, but now we have to focus on this year and taking every day one step at a time.”
lramirez@StatesmanJournal.com or Twitter.com/@LuisRamirez10
Coach: Joe Panuke, third year.
Last year’s record: 10-2 overall, 3-1 Tri-River, lost in state championship game.
Bishop Mitchell, sr., RB/CB: A first-team all-league player on both sides of the ball as a junior who amassed 1,800 yards and 25 touchdowns.
Brett Traeger, sr., QB/DB: Passed for 901 yards and seven touchdowns as a junior and was a first-team all-league defensive player.
Jeremy Kliewer, sr., OL/DL: A first-team all-league player and the leader on the line for the Trojans.
Outlook: Kennedy has a prolific group of skill position players back led by Mitchell and are experienced on the defensive side of the football.
The Trojans’ biggest holes are on the line where Kliewer and David Wright are returning starters, but the team has the talent to challenge for the state championship.
Coach: Kyle McGrath, third year.
Last year’s record: 8-4 overall, 3-1 Tri-River, lost in state semifinals.
Bryce Piete, sr., QB/DB: An athletic, experienced first-team all-league player who will set the tone for the Rams on offense.
Eric Gustin, sr., TE/LB: A first-team all-league player on both sides of the ball as a junior and an experienced multi-sport athlete.
Brandon Piete, jr., RB/LB: A second-team all-league player on both sides of the football as a sophomore and a dynamic player.
Outlook: The Rams have an experienced, athletic group and has the potential to compete for the league championship.
Coach: Dustin McGee, second year.
Last year’s record: 4-5 overall, 1-3 Tri-River.
Jackson Klagge, sr., OL/DL: He was a second-team all-league player on both sides of the ball as a junior.
Jordan Lanham, jr., RB/CB: A strong straight-ahead runner and second-team all-league defensive player.
Sean Horning, jr., WR/S: An honorable mention all-league defensive back and one of the team’s top skill players.
Outlook: The team returns nine starters on both sides of the ball from a group that made a big step forward in placing 4-5 last season. But in a loaded league the team still has work to do to battle for a state playoff spot.
Coach: Tony Smith, ninth year.
Last year’s record: 3-5 overall, 0-4 Tri-River.
Adal Izquierdo, sr., RB/DB: A standout on defense last year and second-team all-league player who will play an increased role on offense this year.
Holden Smith, jr., QB/DB: A second-team all-league selection at punter as a sophomore.
Jacob Forsythe, sr., OL/DL: The most experienced player up front and a second-team all-league defensive player last season.
Outlook: The Buckaroos have a large group of seniors and the experience at the skill positions to challenge for a state playoff spot this season.
Also in the Tri-River
Central Linn: The Lions (9-2 overall, 3-1 in TRC in 2015) have won at least a share of the league championship the past two years and with players like Chandler Jeppsen, Ben Hughes and Braden Nightingale will contend for the league title a third straight year.
1A Special District 3
Coach: Laric Cook, third year.
Last year’s record: 3-6 overall, 3-1 Special District 3, lost in league playoff.
Jeremy Labrado, jr., QB/S: The returning starter on offense and a dual-threat quarterback.
Dylan Young, sr., WR/S: An athletic player and returning starter on both sides of the ball.
Outlook: The Mountaineers made progress last year, but still were short of making the state playoffs.
Also in 1A Special District 3
Yoncalla (10-1 overall in 2015) has the big guns to compete for the league championship again this year, but North Douglas (7-3) has young players who will put the team toward the top of the league.
1A Special District 4
Coach: Duane Riddell, first year.
Last year’s record: 10-1 overall, 6-0 Special District 4, lost in state semifinals.
Haylen Janesofsky, sr., RB/CB: A starter as a freshman who missed his sophomore season, he was a welcome addition in the second half of the Pirates’ deep state playoff run.
Alex Hawes, sr., OL/DL: A first-team all-league lineman as a junior.
Daniel Domes, sr., QB/DB: The team’s returning starting quarterback and a second-team all-league player under center.
Outlook: The Pirates have an interesting combination of talented skill positions and a new, but long experienced head coach. Perrydale has the talent to contend with Dufur at the top of the league.
Also in 1A Special District 4
Senior quarterback Bailey Keever makes Dufur (11-2 in 2015) the favorite to repeat as 1A state champion. He amassed 2,000 yards and 52 touchdowns as a junior and is the most dynamic player in the state. Sherman returns a strong classes of upperclassmen including junior quarterback Jacob Justesen and running back Maverick Winslow and will compete for a playoff spot.