Coming off two undefeated seasons, Vale is the favorite to win the Eastern Oregon League with Burns and Nyssa traditionally strong.

Vale returns 13 seniors but could be looking at a youth movement at its most important position.

Sophomore Agi Tamez was the team’s only listed returning quarterback at 5-foot-6, 110 pounds. First-team all-state offensive lineman Cory Erstrom (6-1, 250)?should help ease the transition to whoever the new signal caller is.

First-team All-EOL defensive lineman and honorable mention running back Austin Tolman (5-7, 175) should experience a larger role as senior while senior Garrett Tolman (6-2, 175)?will be a key player on the defensive line and vie for looks in a deep wide receiver class.

Burns returns all-state first team punter Tyler Cooper while Nyssa returns all-state second team offensive lineman Kyler Emery and honorable mention defensive back Jason Stipe.

Riverside Pirates

Coach: Robin Graff, fifth year

Offense: Double wing/fly

Defense: 4-3

Key Players: QB/DB Trevor Graff, Sr.; RB/LB Chuy Alba, Sr.; OL/DE Briton Hansen, Sr.; OL/DE Taylor Wightman, Sr.; OC/DL Arrow Corpus, Sr.

Returning Starters: 8       

Returning Lettermen: 8

2010 Record: 3-7, 1-4 EOL

With Robin Graff entering his fifth year and his team coming off a one-win season, Riverside football is ready for a competitive run in the Eastern Oregon?League.

Riverside returns a robust defensive line but needs to fill the big shoes of graduated Pirates Harley Orcutt and Brigham Hansen to maintain a solid ground game. Rebuilding their rushing will be former tight end Chuy Alba at running back and Justin Schwabrow at tailb ack or fullback.

Senior Briton Hansen returns as one of the conference’s most feared pass rushers coming off an all-state honorable mention junior season.

At quarterback for the Pirates will be senior Trevor Graff, who is about 80 percent recovered from a career-threatening knee injury and surgery.

Coach Graff said the biggest key to winning this season will be ironing out skill players and staying healthy because of a lack of overall depth.


Umatilla Vikings

Coach: Mike Mosher, first year

Offense:?Pro style

Defense: 4-3/4-4

Key Players: QB/DB Andres Sanguino, Sr.; WR/DB Justin Vandever, Sr.; WR Tanner Chewning, Sr.; NT Nicho Williams, Sr.; DE Josiah Zitterkob, Sr.; DE?Trevor Hines, Sr.

Returning Starters:?16 (8 offense, 8 defense)

Returning Lettermen: 28

2010 Record:?0-9, 0-5 EOL

The Vikings took their lumps last season but return a veteran group that is hungry to win under rookie head coach Mike Mosher.

Mosher ran the team’s defense last season and said things will stay the same on that side of the ball where a senior-heavy defensive line will be anchored by prototypical nose tackle Nicho Williams (6-foot-0, 330 pounds).

Williams has been taking on double teams since he was a freshman, meaning senior ends Trevor Hines and Josiah Zitterkob will need to win the one-on-one matchups they’ll get as a result.

Senior Andres Sanguino returns as the starter at quarterback and will have greater freedom to throw the ball to receivers Tanner Chewning and Justin Vandever than last season. Hopefully that accounts for more points as the Viking offense was in need of a complete overhaul after scoring just 46 points last year.

Mosher said he is looking at a running-back-by-committee approach with several players vying for playing time.

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