Ridgeview varsity football schedule

All games scheduled for 7 p.m.

- Sept. 6, at Crook County

- Sept. 13, at South Eugene

- Sept. 20, vs. Ashland

- Sept. 27, vs. Churchill

- Oct. 4, at Redmond

- Oct. 11, at Willamette

- Oct. 18, vs. Springfield

- Oct. 25, at North Bend

- Nov. 1, vs. Thurston

With only six seniors on the roster, the Ridgeview football team will be young. But the Ravens’ coach expects solid play from the group they have.

The Ravens are coming off a 4-6 overall record, but they went 4-1 in the North division of Class 5A Special District 2, losing only to eventual state champion Thurston. They lost some key players from that team but return some strong contributors, as well.

“We’re young, we’re real young,” said second-year Ravens coach Patrick Pileggi. “But it’s going to pay off in the long run, we have a lot of talent.”

Junior Bryce DeMars is expected to be under center Sept. 6 when the Ravens open at Crook County (an Intermountain Conference opponent in most sports that is a non-league game in football). DeMars earned honorable mention all-division honors as a sophomore, throwing for 1,566 yards and 19 touchdowns.

Pileggi said DeMars is starting to fill out and is stronger than last season.

“He’s got a rocket arm,” the coach said during the Ravens’ third practice last week. “If we can protect him, I think he can be one of the best quarterbacks in the state.”

Also back on offense is running back Josh Biever, who earned third-team all-league (and second-team all-division) after running for 673 yards and catching passes for another 201 yards.

Biever will be missing a key backfield mate. Fullback Carson Sturges, who played the final four games of the 2018 season for Ridgeview after transferring from California, has moved back to the Golden State.

But the Ravens are also getting new talent. Sophomore receiver Nathen Benz, the brother of Ridgeview soccer star Sadie Benz, has stepped up in practice, Pileggi said.

“He’s going to fill in a spot and do a really good job,” the coach said.

Overall, Pileggi expects the team to be better than last season if the players stay healthy. But they will have to rally if they have injuries.

The team has a strong work ethic and willingness to learn, Pileggi said.

“I’ve had no complaints or dogging stuff, they’ve all been super coachable,” he said. “We’ve had nobody on the roster that’s a headcase. It’s all going to come down to getting those reps and getting that experience on the varsity level.”

Junior center/linebacker Tony Lochner, entering his first full season on varsity, feels good about the team’s attitude.

“We may not be the biggest, but we’ll be the hardest working,” he said. “We’re going to get out there and push the heck out of ‘em.”

Building confidence among the young team and dealing with more physical play are the biggest challenges facing the Ravens entering the season, Pileggi said.

“The difference between scout team physicality and Friday night physicality is a big deal,” he said.

While Thurston, which returns the bulk of its 2018 state championship team, remains the heavy favorite in the North division, Pileggi expects Ridgeview to have to defeat either North Bend or Redmond to earn a playoff spot.

“I really think the North division is the strength of the league,” he said.

The Ravens’ coach puts a bit of pressure on their crosstown rival.

“Redmond is loaded,” he said. “There’s no reason they can’t be a top 10 team.”

Before the regular season starts, the Ravens will play in a preseason jamboree Friday in Salem at Sprague, where Pileggi worked as an assistant for six years before coming to Ridgeview. Also there will be Lebanon, which features Keith Brown, rated as a top-five inside linebacker in the country for the class of 2021.

Ridgeview initially looked at attending Redmond High’s jamboree the same day, but decided to do something different, Pileggi said.

“I wanted to see some tough competition, but have it also be kind of laid back,” he said. “It should be a good time.”

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