East Linn Loggers ready for new 9-man grid schedule

The East Linn Loggers of the National Nineman Football League has begun preparations for their quest to capture the NNFL title. The Loggers are in their second year in existence. Their 2004 inaugural season was one of mixed emotions. While they finished 0-7 they did send four players to the All-star Game. Those individuals were Dan Wilson, Jesse Garcia Jr., Rod Jaques and All-NNFL kick returner Matt Simpson.

Rod Jaques set the NNFL record for sacks with 11 1/2 in 2004. Returning players for the Loggers this year are Jesse Garcia Jr., Rod Jaques, Craig Bergevin, Dan Wilson and Justin Poole.

Their second year began with many changes. There were 3 tryouts drawing more than 50 athletes from around the Willamette Valley. In January the final team roster was announced and 23 were cut. Some were able to get onto other teams and some gave up the dream. Other changes came in the form of coaching staff. Jesse Garcia returned as head coach, George Dominy remains as Defensive Coordinator as well as linebacker coach. Bob Teter not only returned to coach the offensive and defensive line but is also playing. Two more individuals joined the coaching staff. Steve Poole will take on the role of Offensive Coordinator. Steve, a retired school teacher served as Lebanon High School football coach. Also joining the staff is Duane Stevens. Duane will be working with the defensive backs. Duane will also be playing the quarter back position for the Loggers this year.

At the Wide Receiver position, Mike Bell and Devin Devorak will be filing those slots. Both Mike and Devin were stand outs at West Albany High School and are now attending LBCC. Others who may see time there are Heath Belknap, Ronnie Garcia and Jesse Garcia Jr.

Their Tight Ends will be a force in this league. Dan Wilson has moved form his guard position to play tight end. Supporting that role are Evan Holden form Central Linn High School and Tony Webb from Sweet Home.

The Logger?s Offensive Line has ?beefed up.? Last year the Logger Line averaged 5?11? and 220 lbs. This year the Logger?s offensive linemen average 6?1? and 255 lbs. Leading the charge at center is Brandon Holden. Holden was an all-conference lineman while at Central Linn High School. On the left side is Justin Terhurst. Terhurst has spent the last few years as a professional Ultimate Cage Fighter. On the right is Teter, who played defensive end and linebacker at Olivet Nazarene University and Eastern Oregon University. Jason Shurtleff who played line at College of the Redwoods in California will also see playing time on the offensive line.

The Loggers will have some good talent at the Running Back position. Trace Privratsky from Lebanon High school will be the tail back. Ray Galinat a 6?1? 235 lbs speedster who played quarter back for Dayton High School will play both full back and tail back. Others contributing in the offensive backfield are Josh Faulkner, Marco Calvo and Jamil Braithwaite.

At Quarter Back, Duane Stevens will be the featured signal caller. Duane played the position at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and in the U.S. Air Force League as well as a short stint of semi-pro in Japan. Others seeing time at the QB position is Jesse Garcia Jr. and Tim Pepperling.

The Logger defense will have a little more team speed and experience this year.

The Defensive Line will really keep the offensive backfield on their heels. Sack master, Rod Jaques has made the move from linebacker to defensive end. On the other end, Justin Poole retains his spot to contain the offensive attack. The Loggers landed a diamond in the rough by bringing Chris Ropp to the fold. Chris a 6?2? 265 lbs All State Defensive End and Offensive Tackle, from Santiam Christian High School, will plug up the middle at the Nose position. Ropp was also a heavy weight 2A state champion wrestler during his senior year of high school. Other defensive linemen include Ryan Kruise, Brandon Holden and Evan Holden.

This year?s Line Backers will bring some much needed size and experience to the Logger defense. Defensive leader Craig Bergevin will move from the strong safety spot to middle linebacker. Joining him will be Tony Webb and Jamil Braithwaite. Braithwiate was an All-Pac Ten Defensive End for Oregon State in the late 90s. He set a Pac-10 record for block kicks that still stands to this day. Braithwaite was invited to the NFL combine, but a knee injury ended his professional career.

The Defensive Backfield will be one of the most notable changes on defense. The Logger defensive backs are faster, smarter and more physical than last year?s squad. Ronnie Garcia will lead the way at the Free Safety position. Garcia was a standout for the Sweet Home Husky?s 2003 team that went to the 3A quarter-finals. The corners are Bodie Dowding from Lebanon High School and Jesse Garcia Jr.. Battling for the Strong Safety spot are Josh Faulkner and Danny Nunn. Marco Calvo, Mike Bell and Devon Devorak will also be supporting players in those spots.

The Special Teams will be lead by Sweet Home High School?s 2004 All-State kicker / punter, Heath Belknap. The NNFL brings a unique scoring opportunity by giving extra points for drop kicks. This will prove to be a challenge for the young kicker.

The National Nineman Football League is not semi-pro program as it is often labeled by the general public. It is a ?working man?s? league. All players and coaches work or attend school. Some do both while raising a family. It is an opportunity for post high school or college athletes to play the game that they love. All players must pay fees and fundraise for their team?s expenses. Some players in the league have gone on to play Arena Football and Canadian Professional Football. The Loggers also perform community services such as helping with clean-up projects, elementary school classroom aids and more.

The games are a fun, fast paced and exciting with activities for the whole family. Tickets are $6 for adults and $3 for kids and seniors, kids 6 and under admission is FREE.

The Oregon NNFL is made up of a total of 9 teams from around the Willamette Valley. Those teams include; Capital City Enforcers (Salem), Santiam Stallions (Stayton), North Valley Hunters (Jefferson), Eugene Firebirds, Cascade Steel (Monroe), East Linn Loggers and last year?s national champions the Oregon Outlaws. Two new teams enter the league this year; Power Valley Sharks (Albany) and the Polk County Pioneers (Dallas).

The Loggers will play their home games at Sweet Home High School?s Husky Field. The Loggers open their season with a Jamboree at Churchill High School in Eugene on April 2 followed by their home opener against the Sharks on April 16.

The East Linn Loggers are looking for some help. They are in need of people to help with field preparation, security, videography and score board operators. If you would like to help the Loggers, call Jesse Garcia at 367-6819. For general league info check out the league?s web site, http://www.nineman.com or http://www.eastlinnloggers.com.