2018 Preview: Football - Offense and Special Teams

2018 Preview: Football - Offense and Special Teams

PALATINE HILL -- Off their most successful season since 2012, the Pioneers are set to open their season this Saturday against Pomona-Pitzer on Fred Wilson Field at Griswold Stadium.

Entering their fourth season under head coach Jay Locey, the Pioneers return the majority of their offensive line. This line blocked for the most rushing yards by a Pios running back (Michael Abraham - 469) since 2008. The Pios lost a few key contributors at the wide receiver and running back positions, but some fresh faces are ready to step in and fill those spots.

Isaac Parker returns for his second year as offensive coordinator and head of the offensive line. Parker spent part of his summer interning at the Cincinnati Bengals training camp on a Bill Walsh NFL Minority Coaching Fellowship working with their offensive line. In charge of the quarterbacks, Lyle Moevao returns as the team's passing game coordinator.

Offensive Line

Last season was one of the most successful showings for the Pios' offensive line in recent years as they allowed the fewest sacks since 2013. The Pios return two seniors in Davis Blackmon and Maka Ah Loo. Blackmon is in his second season on the offensive line after beginning his career at tight end. Ah Loo has been a consistent starter for the team and was named All-Northwest Conference Honorable Mention after his freshman season. Also in his senior season is Minnesota native Michael Nosek. Nosek took two years off, last playing for the Pios in 2015. 

The returning junior class is highlighted by last season's All-NWC Honorable Mention selection Devon Franklin. At 285 pounds, Franklin provides both size and athleticism to the front line. Also returning for his junior season is the team's primary center Kalae Wong, who has established himself as a leader. Codi Crain is in his second year on the team and adds additional versatility to the front. He earned all-district awards in high school as part of both the offensive line and defensive line. James McArthur is another returning junior who is a consistent contributor with 16 games played over the past two years.

Mercury Compagno is back for his sophomore season after playing in six games last year. Spending time on the defensive side last season, he finished the year with one tackle and two assisted tackles. Compagno will be on the offensive side solely this year. Fellow sophomore Dominic Pallares joins him at the position. Pallares played primarily on the defensive line in high school, but has been very useful on the other side of the ball. Also returning for his second year is Eryk Schaftlein, out of Lodi, Calif. He is a former all-league first team selection in high school.

The Pios add two new freshman to the offensive line in Jack O'Hearn and Neil McCarthy. O'Hearn, out of Greenbrae, Calif., thought Lewis & Clark would be the best place for him to grow as a person. McCarthy joins the Pios from just down the road in Lake Oswego, Ore. and, at 6-5, 285 pounds he will add a great amount of size to the front line.

Wide Receivers and Tight Ends

Dallas Garreaud is in his final season with the Pioneers and is the sole tight end. He ended last season with 20 catches, 230 yards and six touchdowns.

Leading the Pioneers in receiving yards in his first two seasons, Dejour Williams also returns for his final season. Williams ended last season with 26 receptions for 353 yards and two touchdowns. Senior Bryce Johnson is back after finishing 2017 as the team's primary kick returner. He averaged over 24 yards per return in 2017. Last year, Johnson was selected to the D3football.com Team of the Week following the Pios 40-29 win at Pomona-Pitzer. Jantzen Shinmoto is a graduate student who is returning to the team for his fourth year after a season-ending injury in the first game of 2017. He ended his junior season with 26 receptions for 303 yards and a touchdown.

In his second year with the Pios, junior Heisman Hosoda comes off a very successful 2017 season, which saw him rank fifth in the Northwest Conference in yards per game receiving. He was an All-NWC Honorable Mention recipient. Junior Xavier Tharpe provides tremendous speed and is comfortable running the ball. He finished last season with three catches for 16 yards and ran twice for 13 yards and should be a primary option for the Pios this season. Like Tharpe, Kevin Johnson is expected to get more work this year and rounds out the returning junior class. Johnson finished last season with eight receptions for 152 yards highlighted by a 48-yard reception against Claremont-M-S on Sept. 9.

Aidan Verba-Hamilton and fellow sophomore Matt Saltman are in their first season with Pioneer football. Verba-Hamilton, from San Francisco, Calif. and Saltman from Honolulu, Hawaii will add great athleticism to the position. 

The Pioneers welcome three freshmen to the wide receiver position this year. Dominic Mascio is from Fort Collins, Colo. and was drawn to Lewis & Clark because of its outstanding academics and unique location. He plans to major in Computer Science. Travis Benham, out of Pacifica Calif., holds his school's single game record in passing yards. From Sweet Home, Ore., Keegan Holly was an all-state first team selection in high school and is in his high school's top five in all-time career receptions.

Running Backs

Cory Hincks is the sole senior for the running backs. He was a regular contributor last year and ended the season with 24 rushes for 160 yards. He scored his first career touchdown last season on Sept. 9 against Claremont-M-S.

Highlighting the running backs is sophomore Michael Abraham. Abraham, a Portland native, led the team in rushing yards with 469, the most by a Pios running back since 2008. Zondre Faraj-Washington also returns for his second year after being a regular contributor as a freshman. He finished last year with nine carries for 22 yards and two catches for 15 yards and will work as the team's fullback.

Evan Powers is the only freshman to join the running backs this season. From Honolulu, Hawaii, Powers was an all-conference honorable mention in high school and was drawn to Lewis & Clark because of the culture and atmosphere.

Quarterbacks

Michael Machado, out of San Jose, Calif., is the sole senior at the quarterback position. He finished last season with 15 completions for 197 yards and will provide tremendous leadership.

Junior Caden Voges returns for his third year with the Pioneers. Starting the final game of the season in 2017, he finished the season with 22 completions for 238 yards and two touchdowns. Joining him at the position is fellow junior Noah Riley, who is in his first season with the team.

Sophomore John Thoma is from Yarmouth, Maine, but has family ties to Oregon. He is his high school's all-time leader in touchdowns and pass yards.

Special Teams

After losing their punter and kicker from last season, the Pioneers add freshman Hayden Moses out of Hayward, Calif. Moses was an all-league first team selection in high school. Both Benham and Moses will look to emerge as a reliable kicking option for the Pios this season.

Verba-Hamilton will likely be the Pioneers main returner this season. Bryce Johnson, Shinmoto and Tharpe could also return kicks and punts this season.

Schedule

Following Saturday's home opener with Pomona-Pitzer, the Pioneers travel to southern California to face Whittier on Sept. 15 followed by their bye week.

The NWC opener is at Willamette on Sept. 29. A late kickoff (4 p.m.) will settle the owner of the Wagon Wheel traveling trophy, which Lewis & Clark won last year for the first time since 2000.

October opens with Homecoming and Family Weekend and a game with the Puget Sound Loggers on Oct. 6 before back-to-back road games at Linfield and Pacific the next two weekends.

Lewis & Clark wraps up the regular-season schedule with home games against George Fox (Oct. 27) and Pacific Lutheran (Nov. 10) with a road trip to Whitworth in between on Nov. 3.