Spotlight on: West Albany Bulldogs
Hometown: Albany, Oregon
Group: Oregon 5A
By Brett Manney
After the game Silverton head coach Scott Gregg told Rob Holderness of the Oregon Statesman, “West Albany is a terribly talented football team. I’ve told my group the last couple of weeks that they are the program I aspire to be.”
Who could disagree with Gregg?
The Bulldogs are a rising powerhouse in Oregon football. They have not lost since the ’06 5A state championship game, when they witnessed a 14-point fourth quarter lead evaporate into a 17-14 triple overtime loss. Moreover, the Bulldogs have been to the last two state championships and look to be on the same path this year.
“We don’t sneak up on anybody,” said Randy Nyquist, head coach of the Bulldogs. “We have to rise to the challenge. It makes us more consistent in our performance and our kids take a lot of pride in that.”
Nyquist has been enjoying the recent success of West Albany football considering he was once a Bulldog himself. Nyquist was a tailback for team back in the 80s and has always had a passion for West Albany athletics.
“It’s a lot of fun to coach,” Nyquist said. “A lot of coaches who coached me come back and show their support. We (West Albany) have a lot of pride. It means a lot.”
Simply put, the Bulldogs have been dominant in ‘08. They have trailed only one time all season and up until a few weeks ago, hadn’t been scored on since September 12. Their lowest point total was 14 back in week one, which also was the team’s closest game, a 14-7 win against Sherwood (8-1, State PR: 86.36, Rank 3).
The Bulldog defense produced five straight shutouts from Sept. 9 through Oct. 24 and came into last week’s game giving up just 7.1 points per game. But perhaps what makes this even more astounding is that the Bulldogs’ stellar defense lost nine starters from last year’s championship team.
Coach Nyquist credits his coaches and the past success of defenses, all of which have helped mold this season’s squad. Meanwhile, the offense has been punishing opposing defenses by averaging 46 points per game. In conference play, the Bulldogs have punted only once and opposing teams usually start at their own 20-yard line because kicker Tyler George routinely boots touchbacks.
And the talent at West Albany is coming out of the woodwork. Furthermore, the Bulldogs have five 5A all-state selections from last year. Oregon State recruit John Braun is 6-6, 245 lbs. and is an all-state OT/DT. He opens up holes for dynamic, all-state RB Anthony Lacoste. George and DL Matt McHenry are the other first team all-state selections. QB Reese Miller was selected to the second team.
The Bulldogs rely heavily on their run game, averaging over 300 yards per contest. Lacoste, set the school record in long jump was part of state champion 4x100 relay team as a sophomore. The big and physical offense line has allowed Lacoste to gain 1,725 yards rushing this season -- an average of over 172 yards a game. Though in most of those contests, his night is done by halftime. If opponents are looking to stop the Bulldogs, they surely must focus on the junior running back and his 23 touchdowns.
With a 56-7 victory over Crescent Valley last weekend, the Bulldogs ended the regular season at 10-0 and look to keep their momentum flowing into the postseason.
So far, the ‘08 Bulldogs are on the same path as the ‘07 state champions. The statistics are eerie similar. The undefeated ‘07 squad averaged 42.9 points per game and only allowed 5.4. This year’s team averages 47.3 points per game and allows only 7.1.
“The loss in ‘06 motivated us to not let that happen again,” Nyquist said.
24 games later there is still motivation on this Bulldog squad. And if all things go as planned, the Bulldogs could be wearing more gold medals than losses in the past two years.