Parkrose Broncos football head coach Maurice France–Coach Mo to players–is frustrated his team is not in the discussion of contenders for a state title. Even after achieving a winning record last season for only the second time in 30 years and making it to a playoff play-in game–only to lose without the services of concussed star quarterback Jonathan Boland–France said his team is not getting the respect it deserves. “I know it’s all about proving yourself and increasing what you did last year, ” France said. “But we have 19 seniors returning, and they’re looking past us.”

Seniors are not the only thing imbuing the second-year head coach with confidence, Northwest Oregon Conference (NWOC) teams Hillsboro and Wilsonville both have more returnees. Four players have France thinking about a title: Boland, wide receiver Marshawn Edwards–both ranked in the top 10 at their positions in the state by Oregonian prep expert Nick Daschel (Boland #6 and Edwards #3)–Emile Wolpert and Tucker Perry, two former Portland Christian (PC) players who signed up to play for Parkrose when PC’s program evaporated. “I think the person nobody knows about, even when he was down in 2A, is Tucker Perry,” France said. “He’s going to help us on both sides of the ball; I’ll be real shocked if he’s not all-league linebacker, and he’s got a good chance to be all-state.”

Another reason for France’s confidence is he has eight offensive and defensive starters returning. Parkrose’s key contributors will once again be top cornerback and four-year starter Andre Johnson, who attacks a thrown ball like a pterodactyl attacks its prey, Chris Wilson, a dependable two-way starter, and slot receiver Vincent Vy, a productive and precise pass route runner.

Similar to University of Oregon, Parkrose runs a spread offense tailored to a highly mobile quarterback like Boland. Defensively, they run mostly a 4-3 front but also throw in some 3-3-5 sets to keep the offense guessing.

To keep defenses from focusing too much on Boland, France said he is running the ball more this year. “Of course I’m a passing coach; I love throwing the ball,” he said. “I think this year, just to keep Jon out of harm’s way; we’re going to do a lot of running the football.”

France isn’t the only one channeling Rodney Dangerfield. “They [Oregonian pre-season polls] have us 14 or 15 behind Sandy,” Boland said. “We beat them last year; it’s wrong, but it’s not getting to me; it’s just fire in the belly.”

Like his coach, Boland is also tickled to get the Portland Christian players. “We got a couple of them here, they’re some studs; ‘Tucker, I’m so happy you’re here, thank you for coming to Parkrose.’ I tell him that everyday,” Boland said.

France said he has more than one leader on the field this year. “It’s all about believing in your kids that you have,” he said. “Jon controls the ship, but you have Andre, Marshawn, Emile and Tucker Perry; I’m real excited about this year.”

Despite more players turning out this year, depth is an issue; Parkrose is still a shallow team. With decades of losing, it will take France time to build the kind of numbers to absorb losing key players to injuries, like last year when Boland went down, and the Broncos stalled. During its 2013 play-in game without Boland, Parkrose’s offense was anemic, generated only 25 yards and one score in a 34-21 loss. Even then, Parkrose’s fast, athletic and savvy defense–it scored two touchdowns–nearly won the game.

2013 overall record: 6-4 and 4-3 in NWOC–Tied for second with Sandy, Wilsonville and Liberty–in Northwest Oregon Conference.

Parkrose Bronco football players shared a day of fun and camaraderie with coaches, parents and community members last month. To a man, they declare themselves ready for the 2014 season and are determined to bring home a state title. The Bronco’s home opener is Friday, Sept. 12 at 7 p.m. against La Salle.
Memo photo/Tim Curran