Preview: South Albany Rebels
By John Holland, Special to OregonLive.com, August 27, 2008 8:28 p.m.
Head coach: Tony Matta
Last year: 5-5 (3-4)
Key loss: WR/DB Colby Maynard Key returnee: RB/LB Jesse Duke
Key game: 10/24 @ West Albany - Complete 2008 Schedule
The South Albany Rebels have one goal going into the 2008-09 season; the playoffs. In order to break out in the tough Mid -Willamette conference, South Albany will need buckle down on defense and improve on the 24.5 points per game they allowed during league play in 2007-08.
Offensively, the Rebels won't surprise anyone when they line up in their trademark double wing offensive scheme. This system that produces multiple 1,000 rushers year after year for the Rebels.
Senior RB Jesse Duke, who is chasing his third straight 1,000-yard season on the ground, will head the running game up. Duke was fifth in the league last year with 1,028 yards and 8 td's in a secondary role for the Rebels. Senior Greg Hoover should see a lot of carries as he looks to help lighten the load for Duke. Head coach Tony Matta is high on Hoover calling him the "fastest guy on the team" with "the speed to change a game".
With the departure of Tony Darcy, a league first team tackle in 07-08, South Albany will look to Junior Bond Sumey (6-5, 265) and Senior David Hardenbrook (6-3, 260) to be their anchors on the ever-important offensive line.
Junior Zac Hunter will come in as the starting QB after a limited role last season. His primary target will be Senior WR Matt Savage, who raised some eyebrows in WOU team camp this summer. If Hunter and Savage can establish a passing game early on in the season, the rebels will gain an element of their offense that has been missing for the past few seasons.
Defensively the rebels will line up in an aggressive 4-3, with blitzing backers and lockdown corners. Matt Savage (5-10, 160) has great speed at the corner back spot, and SS Justin Robbins (6-1, 200) has the size to lay serious sticks on opposing wide receivers and running backs alike. In a league where the running game reigns supreme, South Albany will need to improve dramatically on their ability to stop the run. Senior Kyle Sprinkle is a bit undersized (6-1, 195) but a fast defensive end, who will look to be a leader on the front line. Senior Linebacker Michael VanDoren is the defensive leader and should play a huge roll in stopping the run. VanDoren had a solid year in 2007-08 with 32 tackles and 6 sacks, playing in the shadow of senior standout Zach Ayers. VanDoren proved last season that he could play. Expect more of the same.
With the amount of improvement we've seen from South Albany over the past 3 seasons, their goal of making the Playoffs may not seem so far fetched. As long as they can learn to mix it up on offense, play competitive defense and sneak in a few big wins against tough league opponents like Corvallis and Dallas, the dream may just become a reality.
Top players• QB/FS Zac Hunter, 5-8, 160• RB/LB Jesse Duke, 5-7, 190• G/DE Kyle Sprenkle, 6-1, 195• T/DT David Hardenbrook, 6-3, 260• T/DT Bond Sumey, 6-5, 265• WR/DB Matt Savage, 5-10, 160• FB/LB Michael VanDoran, 6-1, 230• TE/SS Justin Robbins, 6-1, 200• RB/DB Greg Hoover, 5-11, 200• RB/LB Lane Stutzman, 5-10, 175• C/DT TJ Chapman, 6-1, 260• TE/LB Colton Kelsey, 6-3, 215