By Gerry Steele
HALFWAY - Veteran Pine-Eagle football coach Blake Dennis is hoping that the return of several players, including six seniors, will propel the Spartans into the post season.
Pine-Eagle has not advanced to the post season since 2004. The Spartans just missed advancing a year ago, finishing the Old Oregon League season 2-3 after suffering an 0-5 start to the season.
"I thought last year could havce been the year we got to the post season, but then we started 0-5," Dennis said.
"That was the first time in almost 25 years of coaching that I've had a team ever do that."
Dennis said the Old Oregon League has no really dominant team and three league teams advance to the playoffs this season.
"These guys know it's a good opportunity for them, and we have a good schedule to be successful," Dennis said.
The six returning seniors, all four-year varsity players, are running backs Kipp Miller, Josh Minarich and Austin Dennis, lineman Cody Dennis and receiver Alex Stiles.
Junior quarterback Justin Seal also returns to lead the offense. Other key juniors are receiver Tyler Newberry, lineman Jacob Huff and Stanfield transfer Jessey O'Quinn.
Sophomore Ray Denig will again anchor the line from his center position.
"He started both ways as a freshman," Dennis said. "He's looking good again."
"This could be a good year if these guys step up and play like they can," the Spartans coach said.