With some key players to replace, but some key returnees from a team that made a surprising playoff run in 2018, Ridgeview’s football team looks to continue to improve.

The Ravens are in the second year under coach Patrick Pileggi, as well as the second campaign with starting quarterback Bryce DeMars, who will be a junior, and the second in Class 5A Special District 2. Ridgeview went 4-6 overall in 2018, but earned second place in the six-team North division with a 4-1 record, thanks to a four-game winning streak. That got them into the playoffs, trailing only eventual state champion Thurston in the division.

“Obviously, we don’t want to go backward, so we want to go further than we did last year, even though we did lose some good guys,” said senior wide receiver/defensive back Kevin Edmondson, an honorable mention all-division pick for Ridgeview. “I think we’re capable of doing that.”

The Ravens, with some players sporting the sleek new “RV” logo on their helmets, practiced last week on campus before heading to Redmond High for that school’s annual High Desert Football Camp, which started June 15.

“We’ve got to get that experience, but don’t want to go too much and get a bunch of injuries,” Pileggi said.

The Ravens have 75 kids out for football so far, which is up from 53 last year, Pileggi said. But only seven of those are seniors. A physical education and health teacher at the school, Pileggi said it helps that he and some assistant coaches are in the building every day to build relationships with potential players.

“We’ve got the right pieces; it’s a matter of getting the experience,” Pileggi said.

The Ravens will play mostly the same teams they did in 2018, but the week 9 crossover game, where each North division team faces the team that finished the same position in the South, has been eliminated. Instead, the Ravens will play Churchill, which finished the regular season ranked No. 2 in 5A, in their fourth game, while the rematch of last season’s thrilling 42-35 victory against rival Redmond will be pushed back a week.

Whereas the end-of-season meeting between three seeds decided who would get the overall fifth playoff spot in the league in 2018, Pileggi said the final playoff place will be determined by RPI ranking this season.

Pileggi predicts that the winner of the Ridgeview-Redmond matchup could be the No. 2 or 3 seed in the league.

DeMars is expected to lead the offense again after taking over for then-senior Payton Davis, who suffered an injury before the season but returned as a second-team all-division receiver. DeMars went on to throw for 1,566 yards and 19 touchdowns, earning honorable mention all-division as a sophomore.

“His arm’s gotten stronger,” Pileggi said.

Also back is junior running back Josh Biever, who shined late in the season when first-team all-league running back Kadden Brown was dinged up, Pileggi said. The third-team all-league (and second-team all-division) choice ran for 673 yards and caught passes for another 201 yards.

“By the end of the year, he was running as well as anybody in our league,” Pileggi said of Biever.

With help from senior fullback Carson Sturges, who transferred from Carlsbad, California, with four games to play last season, Biever sees the Ravens with a strong running game.

Sturges, who also plays middle linebacker, wants to see the Ravens dramatically improve their scoring defense. They allowed an average of nearly 43 points per game, including giving up 71, 53 and 54 points during a three-game losing streak to close the season, which ended with a first-round playoff loss at No. 1 Wilsonville.

“We need to get organized on defense and do the little things right,” Sturges said.

DeMars expects continued growth from the team.

“I think one of the biggest things we’re going to work on is coming together as one and to grow as brothers,” he said. “I’m looking for a lot of good games with these guys.”

— Reporter: 541-548-2186, gfolsom@redmondspokesman.com