▶️ Video game sports in Oregon high schools could boost grades, bring money

Ready or not, competitive video gaming at Oregon high schools is coming and being treated the same as sports such as baseball, basketball and football.

“It builds connections because you might not have much common ground outside other than maybe a class or two together,” said Madras junior Lincoln Delamarter about playing in an after-school video game club.

“Being able to do this after school and then see them after class, it’s like you’re meeting up with one of your buddies. It’s nice. It’s heartwarming.”

RELATED: OSAA approves Esports starting next spring

RELATED: Central Oregon high school football participation up, bucking national trend

Close to 30 students participate daily and play in tournaments at Madras High School, once or twice a week.

The club runs through Esports. If you’re good enough, you can win more than just bragging rights.

“There are over 200 colleges that currently offer Esports scholarships,” said English teacher and Esports coach at Madras High School Beau Herman.

Teams also have a chance to win money to be used for college or trade school.

RELATED: OSAA releases op-ed about poor treatment of referees amid Oregon shortage

RELATED: Coaches, players react to shot clock coming to Oregon high school basketball

Now, Esports clubs around the state are leveling up. The Oregon School Activities Association officially partnered with Esports, which means gaming is an officially sanctioned sport.

“The coolest thing that we are hearing from other states is that it has allowed them to reach a segment of their student population that they are not reaching in their current student populations,” said OSAA Director Peter Webber.

Like sports on the field or a court, club participants at Madras High are held to academic standards to participate.

>>> Have you checked out Central Oregon Daily News on YouTube? Click here to subscribe and share our videos.

One freshman says it’s already inspired him to get his grades up.

“If I don’t have my grades up I won’t be able to go in there,” said Trayson Adams. “If I have my grades up, I will go in there.”

To some, it may look like students aren’t learning much from playing video games, but to Herman, there’s more than what meets the eye.

“They build that teamwork that kids normally wouldn’t get if they aren’t playing a team sport, working on their communication, just building some confidence in them as well,” said Herman.
Teams will be able to compete in multiple popular video game titles like Super Smash Bros and League Of Legends.

The Esports 2022-2023 season will officially start next spring.

“It brings everyone together more, being able to not only play video games together but play against other schools. It feels like you really are a team,” said Delamarter.

To show just how much Esports are becoming a key in college life, here’s a piece from WDBJ on how a university in Virginia is growing Esports participation.

▶️ Central Oregon high school football participation up, bucking national trend

High school football participation numbers have been on the decline nationwide and statewide for more than a decade. But here in Central Oregon, multiple football programs are seeing record participation numbers this season. 
 
Almost 1 million high school boys played 11-man football in the 2021-2022 season. That nearly equaled the totals of basketball and baseball combined. 
 
But the sport has faced multiple challenges over the past decade, including safety concerns, vocal critics speaking out against the game and declining participation numbers nationwide. 
 
“A lot of frustration from a lot of guys because it is going the other direction for most. I think part of it is, you know, we have a big concussion scare the last five, ten years,” said Ridgeview High School coach Patrick Pileggi.
 
 
 
Statistics show that participation numbers have been falling since 2010: 11-man football is down 9.6%. But coaches, programs and the game are pushing back.
 
Equipment has never been safer.
 
“Riddell produced a system that actually has a five zone sensor in those helmets that we can, in real life data, get impact blows on a helmet,” said Summit Head Coach Corben Hyatt.
Practices have never been more regulated.
 
 
“We practice differently. Wearing a helmet and shoulder pads and we don’t take guys to the ground. We’re teaching proper techniques which has made the game safer and less hits on kids is better,” said Hyatt.
 
Protocols have been mandated.
 
“We have to go through hours and hours of certifications every year,” said Hyatt.
 
But the optics of a big and now illegal hit can still be hard to look at.
 
“You think about Xs and Os and trying to how do you win games? But your offseason is ‘OK, how do we increase our numbers and get kids out for football?'” said Hyatt.
 
 
Statistics paint an even grimmer picture statewide in Oregon. The decline in participation numbers since 2008 is approaching 24%.
 
In 2008, the Oregon School Activities Association (OSAA) reported 14,775 participants in football across the state. Fast forward to 2021 and that number dropped to 11,260.
 
But the trend isn’t a hard and fast rule. In Central Oregon, many schools are seeing an increase in their numbers and even breaking school records.
 
“So this year we have 125 kids participating. The highest ever at Summit was 94. So we’ve blown the doors off,” said Hyatt.
 
 
Hyatt’s numbers are so high, he ran out of lockers.
 
“I came home after handing out gear. The first day of practice and I came home and told my wife to get on Amazon and we had to Amazon Prime gear in the next day because we just didn’t have enough of certain things,” said Hyatt.
 
And at Ridgeview High in Redmond, it’s the first time in the school’s history that they’ve been able to field three teams.
 
“They fielded a freshman team in the past, but there’s no JV team,” said Pileggi. “This year, we have all three. I think we’re up to 34 freshmen at the moment. Got a solid sized JV team and obviously a varsity team. So we’re looking about 95 kids in the program currently.”
 
Pileggi chalks it up to multiple factors, including a willingness to adapt his program to a new generation of kids.
 
“It’s finding ways to connect with kids and get them interested. Putting out game day publicity, you know, putting their cool graphics, things like that. Player of the Week. Kids like that, they live on social media. And so, again, it’s one of the things that they see that might be kind of cool to try this football thing out,” said Pileggi.
 
A social media presence, making practices more fun, success on the field, academic success and building relationships with parents are all factors that both coaches point to for their increased numbers. But investing in youth programs is where they believe the true difference is made.
 
“We had eighth grade recruit night and so just like what the colleges do, you bring the kids in and they do the photo shoots and they dress up in the uniforms and have these big elaborate photo shoots,” said Hyatt.
 
“Meeting those kids, getting to know those kids, get them involved as much as we possibly can early,” said Pileggi.
 
 
There’s no doubt the game is evolving and successful coaches and high school programs are evolving with it.
 
“Teach differently. We practice differently,” said Hyatt. 
 
Can you get teenagers with unlimited options for entertainment and activities excited to play football?
 
Can you prove to mom and dad that safety is being practiced and not just preached?
 
Can you get it done on the field and in the classroom?
 
And can you make the little kids excited to one day wear that high school jersey?
 
Answer yes to the majority of those questions and your numbers are probably doing just fine.
 
“We have a fun program and we build relationships and we care about kids,” said Hyatt.
 
Participation numbers for football across the state in the 2022 season won’t be reported to the OSAA until November.
 
It’s also worth noting that although 11-man football participation numbers declined three percent over the last three years nationwide, six, eight and nine-man football participation numbers increased 12% over that same time frame. 
 

▶️ Central Oregon high school football highlights for Week 5

It’s time for more high school football.

Below is a look at the scores from the fifth week of action for 2022 in Central Oregon, provided by ScoreStream.

A reminder that Bend-La Pine Schools have switched to an online ticketing only system this year. Cash will not be accepted at the gate. To purchase tickets you can click this link.
 
You can also find the full 2022 football schedules for Central Oregon High Schools at these links

Bend | Caldera | Crook County | Culver | La Pine | Madras | Mountain ViewRedmond | Ridgeview | Sisters | Summit

 

▶️ New team, same goal: Summit boys soccer makes statement in league opener

Tuesday was a big evening in boys soccer in Central Oregon as Summit and Ridgeview came into a match-up as the top two 5A high school teams in the state.

“We know what we can do, we know what we are capable of, and we are ready to take on anyone in the state,” said Summit senior Bowen Teuber.

With a championship mentality, Summit boys soccer knows how it feels to win. Last year, the program won the 6A state title. But this is not last year’s team. This is a whole new group.

RELATED: Underdogs or top dogs? Caldera girls soccer remains unbeaten; Ranked No. 1

“With the group last year, it was just an incredible group. An anomaly is what we’ve been calling it,” said Summit head coach Joe LoCascio. “To think that it is something to replicate, something to follow up with, that was probably the last thing on our mind and the first thing in our minds to get over.”

The phenom of unique athletes may not be there. What is there is a talented group of collective, motivated players.

“We might not have the individual athletes like last year, but we are a whole team. We are all here to win. That’s all we want,” said Summit senior Aidan MacLennan. “We put all our effort into training, all our effort into games. It’s a family.”

Now in 5A, the Storm is in a lower classification and a new league.

The other teams, the league,” said Locascio. “It’s nothing compared to … can we do our absolute best this year as a Summit squad.”

In their league game, Summit defeated Ridgeview 6-0.

“Our goal is set as high as we did last year,” said Teuber. “Conference title. I think that we want to get back to that state title, even though it’s 5A we’re ready, we want that.”

Central Oregon high school football scores for Week 3

It’s time for more high school football.

Below is a look at the scores from the third week of action for 2022 in Central Oregon, provided by ScoreStream.

A reminder that Bend-La Pine Schools have switched to an online ticketing only system this year. Cash will not be accepted at the gate. To purchase tickets you can click this link.

You can also find the full 2022 football schedules for Central Oregon High Schools at these links

Bend | Caldera | Crook County | Culver | La Pine | Madras | Mountain ViewRedmond | Ridgeview | Sisters | Summit

 

▶️ Underdogs or top dogs? Caldera girls soccer remains unbeaten; Ranked No. 1

Only one undefeated girl’s soccer team left in Central Oregon, and it’s the team with the least experience.

They have never played at the varsity level before this season.

It’s the girls soccer team at Bend’s newest school, Caldera High.

“I have very high expectations,” said Caldera sophomore Camryn Wurth. “I think this is going to be a very good season for us. I’m just excited to see how we do against the other teams.”

RELATED: Severe volleyball referee shortage a big issue 

In their first two varsity games ever, they defeated last year’s 5A state champions and runner-up state champions.

“It’s an ideal start absolutely,” said Caldera girls soccer head coach Gavin Meyer. “Reasoning: I think we just have a lot of depth on our team, and so we have a deep bench, and all these girls are capable of starting, and that helps us out quite a bit.”

Last year, the new school opened with freshman and sophomores, playing only JV games. Now they are playing at one of the highest levels, without a single senior on the team.

“In some ways, it’s nice,” said Meyer. “Ignorance is bliss. We don’t know what the teams were like last year because we weren’t in this league, and we weren’t playing varsity teams. So we are just showing up and playing games.”

It’s a pack of wolves that’s hungry for success.

“You can put something in front of them, and they are going to do it right,” said Meyer. “These girls are goal-oriented, and they are looking for good outcomes.”

According to the players, they’re more than just a group of girls on a soccer field.

“We’re more than a team: we’re family,” said Caldera junior Sienna McCarl. “We are really well connected. We have been playing together for a while.”

A new team in a new league, still trying to prove their worth.

“I don’t totally know how well known we are, but we definitely are a new school and this is only our second year playing sports and being open in general, so we are still kind of making a title for ourselves,” Wurth said. “So, we definitely are a little bit of underdogs.”

Those underdogs are now the top dogs.

After the team’s 5-0 victory over Henley Thursday night, the Wolfpack is now the No. 1-ranked 5A team in the state of Oregon.

Conference play for Caldera starts next week as the Wolfpack take on Bend High School at home on Tuesday at 7 p.m.

▶️ Coaches, players react to shot clock coming to Oregon high school basketball

The pace for Oregon high school basketball is picking up as a shot clock is coming.

“I think it was just a matter of the timing with the change by the NHFS and, you know, some push by coaches and others to see it get done,” said Oregon School Activities Association Executive Director Peter Webber.

Last year, the National Federation of State High School Associations changed its rules on allowing a shot clock and states that weren’t following suit were out of the loop with the national rules committee.

The change in rules allowed states to use the shot clock and remain in compliance.

“You hear different things from different coaches; you hear some are really in favor of it. It will pick up the pace,” said Webber. “We heard from people who are not in favor of it. That they think there will be some issues as far as exasperating the differences between teams that are really skilled and good and teams that aren’t.”

Monday morning, the Oregon School Activities Association voted to add a 35-second shot clock comes the 2023-24 season.

“I think it is a great thing for the game,” said Mountain View girls head coach Jon Corbett. Make it more fun for the kids to play, make it more fun for most fans to watch other than the ones that like to watch a grind it out kind of game. I think it is more fun to coach as well.”

“At Bend High, we are excited for the trajectory a shot clock will provide our girl basketball players,” said girls head coach Maria Ramirez. “A shot clock will reward defense and enhance the level of play and skill necessary for players to compete.”

A few local players and coaches were all for it and admitted it would change the game’s strategy both offensively and defensively, especially late in the game.

“It will keep the game moving, and we’ll get more shots, more opportunities to score and it will just keep the game going more faster,” said Mountain View sophomore Brady Kennedy.

“It will make the game definitely more competitive, it will make it more fast paced and you will have to get open a lot more, find a good shot and pass around a lot,” said Mountain View junior Ian Prictor.

“There are a lot of coaches out there that will like to burn, 4, 5, 6, maybe even the whole fourth quarter sometimes, and it really makes it not a whole lot of fun to watch, so this will be good, it will be a really good thing,” said head girls coach at Mountain View Jon Corbett.

Not all classifications were in favor of a shot clock, however.

Only four of the six were in the majority, as most of the 4A and 2A classifications did not want it.

“I think for the coaches that aren’t comfortable playing at that speed, I am sure there is a downside to that,” Corbett said. “Maybe they have had a system in place for 10, 15 years, and now they have to readjust that, but I think in the long run, they are actually going to really enjoy having to learn some new things. It changes how you practice. There is a lot to it. I think most people would think, hey more offense, but it really, it changes a lot of aspects to what you are doing.”

A few athletic directors told Central Oregon Daily News they are worried about the logistics and cost of now having to add a shot clock.

Mountain View High School Athletic Director Lance Haas says there will be extra costs involved as they will have shot clocks that work with their system but will need to add them and the electric system since they’ll be on top of the backboards.

Schools will have their choice of what type of shot clocks to get,” said Haas. “You can get some that just sit on the floor, or you can get the ones that mount to the back of the baskets. It will be up to individual schools.

OSAA says they will try and help schools find the best fit and cost for each school.

Shot clock added to Oregon high school basketball starting in 2023-24 season

Oregon high school basketball is picking up the pace as a shot clock is coming.

The Oregon School Activities Association executive board voted Monday morning to approve a 35-second shot clock starting in the 2023-24 season.

The shot clock is only for varsity games.

Adding a limited time before having to shoot the ball significantly changes high school basketball in Oregon.

Those who like a fast, up-and-down pace won’t see much change to their strategy. But coaches who want to control the ball and wait for the right shot are in for a big difference, especially come the fourth quarter.

▶️ Central Oregon football teams gearing up for season, square off at jamboree

Teams from across the High Desert competed in a football Jamboree at Redmond High School on Thursday.

Redmond, Sisters, Caldera, La Pine, and Madras squared off before the start of the season.

“Did great, our players were running hard, defense was real good out there, were fast, I have a good feeling about this season,” said Sisters High senior quarterback Easton Moore.

“I feel like our pocket was there, we threw it good, had a couple touchdowns in the air, now we just need to work on the run game,” said Redmond High senior running back Kyle Littlejohn.

“Gets us ready for the that game speed before game one, you know,” said Madras High senior quarterback Drew Boyle.

A last tune up before the real games begin.

Something maybe needed a little extra this year with so much change to this year’s conferences.

All of the Bend schools will be in the same conference as Redmond and Ridgeview this year at the 5A level.

“It’s going to be cool, a lot more people, bigger crowds, it’s going to be a lot more exciting,” said Littlejohn. “A different level of competition with Summit and a bunch of different teams coming around. It’s going to be awesome.”

That includes a team with no seniors this year, Bend’s newest school, the Caldera High Wolfpack.

“We don’t have a lot of expectations, we are the underdogs, but I hope we can go out and fight and maybe go to the playoffs this year,” said Caldera High sophomore Brady White.

Sisters is also going down a classification, now in the same league as La Pine.

One team is looking to turn things around.

“I feel good about it. Last year we didn’t have our best record, but this year we will do a lot better,” said Moore.

The other team is looking to remain on top.

“This year’s team, we are a gritty bunch, we have been playing together for a while. We have some big shoes to fill from last year’s team that went to the semifinals,” said La Pine senior quarterback Colton Campbell.

 


Central Oregon High School games week one:

5A

Mountain View vs Canby 

Redmond vs Hood River Valley

Ridgeview at Springfield

Caldera vs Pendleton

Summit at Tualatin (6A)

Bend at Lincoln (6A) Thursday 9\1

4A

Crook County at Philomath

Madras at Sweet Home

3A

Sisters at Burns

La Pine at Corbett

2A

Culver vs Weston McEwen

  • 7 p.m. start time

A long travel time, Crook County, Madras football put in Greater Oregon League

▶️ OSAA proposal moves Bend high schools to 5A, joining Redmond, Ridgeview