Northeast A League football preview

Michael Brock

The Stags, slotted at No. 4 in the 1A preseason rankings, are returning 11 all-league selections from a team that went 10-1 overall and advanced to the state semifinals for the second time in four years.

Winning by an average of 24.3 points per game against NEA opponents, the team went 6-0 in league play, before falling 14-7 in the state semifinals to Lynden Christian.

For the first time since 2004, Deer Park will be led by a new head coach. Levi Hogan — one of the team’s assistant coaches the last two seasons — has taken over as head coach after longtime leader Keith Stamps took over as the school’s athletic director.

Despite the graduation of running backs Matthew Jorgensen and Bennet Lim — two keys to the Stags’ high-powered offense last season — the goal is to continue the team’s identity.

“We’re going to look to run the ball first and we want to play a solid defense behind that,” said Hogan, who was the Chewelah football coach for two seasons. “We just graduated two running backs who were some of the best Deer Park’s ever had. Also, there were a couple of linemen in front of them that did a really good job throughout the whole year.”

A.J. Stenbeck and Sam Riebold, both named all-league as juniors in 2019, return for the offensive line, which will be blocking for a by-committee rushing attack.

“We’ll be spreading it around a little bit more as a team, but we still want to run the ball first,” Hogan said. “Controlling that run game is how you win the Northeast A League... We’re not gonna try to come up with anything new. We want to continue the traditions that Coach Stamps has established here. I think that’s the best identity for a high school football team.”

Senior Chaz Bird will again be under center for the Stags, with senior tight end Andrew Olietti and senior receiver Durgeloh among his available weapons.

“Just across the board, I think it’s a good senior group,” Hogan said.

Also returning are all-league defensive backs Carson Colville and Ryan Durgeloh, who, along with linebacker Riebold and linemen Olietti and Stenbeck, will form an experienced defense.

“In terms of the youngsters, there’s still some question marks there. I don’t know how many months since they’d even played a game.

“So there’s some openings and some opportunity and we have some young kids coming from the JV that have been putting in a lot of work.”

Despite beating league opponents by an average of 24.3 points last season, the Stags won two nail biters — 10-7 over Riverside and 21-21 over Colville.

The Indians’ young team and head coach Greg Mace have had to wait well over a year to get their first game under their belt.

Colville will be back to official practices with the rest of the Northeast A League on Feb. 22. As the East Region is currently in Phase 2, the Indians will be able to hold competitions.

Read the full story in the Feb. 17, 2021 edition of the Deer Park Tribune.


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