PALATINE HILL -- The Lewis & Clark Pioneers had their biggest offensive year under head coach Jay Locey in 2018. With over 3,200 yards of total offense, their most since 2013, the Pios also averaged their most points per game (24.2) since Locey was chosen to lead the program.
Newly-hired offensive coordinator Joe Bushman will lead the offense this season. He won the Oregon big-school state championship in 2017 with Clackamas High School and will have a glut of speed at his disposal. Tom Sunseri joined the staff and will coach tight ends. Dejour Williams, who moved to fifth all-time in receptions at Lewis & Clark during his senior season last year, is now on the staff as an assistant wide receivers coach.
Lewis & Clark returns two receivers from the senior class. Xavier Tharpe has had one of the best showings in camp so far. Hard to cover, a good blocker and intelligent, Tharpe will look to add to his 20 receptions from 2018. Kevin Johnson appeared in eight games each of the last two seasons and had a career-high 22 catches as a junior. A big play threat and physical, Johnson is a solid route runner and highly competitive.
Aidan Verba-Hamilton was impactful for both football and track and field, which earned him Lewis & Clark's Male Rookie of the Year award at last May's Excellence in Lewis & Clark's Year of Sports (ELCYS). Explosive and speedy, Verba-Hamilton was the only Northwest Conference student-athlete with a kickoff and punt return touchdown in 2018. He's improved his route running entering his junior season.
Keegan Holly returns for his second year with the Pioneers and has been battling an injury in fall practice. He competed in six games as a freshman. Transfer Jalen Lewis joins the Pios from Foothill Community College. He has shown an ability to do almost everything well at the position.
Tyson Booze is from Portland and has been a bright spot during fall practice so far. Already with great hands, Booze has also improved his speed and athleticism over the summer. Reid Fong is an eager receiver who will go after anything thrown his way. Fong is from Los Angeles and said he instantly felt at home at Lewis & Clark once he stepped onto campus. Out of Bremerton, Wash., Elijah McGee is athletic and strong as both a route runner and ball carrier. Planning to major in Economics, McGee picked Lewis & Clark because of the family atmosphere. Originally a quarterback, Johnathan Newsome has shifted to wide receiver during fall practice, a transition that has seemed like a natural fit so far. From San Francisco, Newsome is explosive and should have an impact at his new position after earning league MVP honors during his high school years.
After catching four touchdowns in his first three games last year, senior Dallas Garreaud was injured during the Pios Homecoming game with Puget Sound and missed the rest of the season. With an extra year of eligibility, the 6-6, 245-pound target will look to add to his 12 career touchdowns after gaining extra strength during the offseason. He's improved his blocking, too.
Garrett Barber has made the transition from defensive line to tight end, a position for which he has natrual size. Already showing solid blocking skills, Barber is working on his routes within the offensive system.
Ward Anderson is one of three new tight ends in the mix this fall. At 6-3, 213 pounds, Anderson joined the team from Coronado, Calif. and chose Lewis & Clark because of its quality academics. First-year target Aaron Krause is also 6-6 from Portland's Sunset High School. An all-league selection, Krause has great length and intelligence. He's shown an eagerness to learn from Garreaud during fall practice. Jack Foss is a converted guard who was an all-state selection from Gladstone, Ore. While in high school, he twice won conference lineman of the year. Choosing Lewis & Clark for the family atmosphere, Foss will also be in the mix for long snapping duties.
Lewis & Clark opens the year in southern California against Pomona-Pitzer on Saturday. The Pioneers won 40-29 in the last meeting there in 2017. Lewis & Clark's other non-conference game is the home opener on Sept. 21 against Whittier. The Pios will try for two-in-a-row against the Poets, who Lewis & Clark beat last year, 46-27.
The Northwest Conference schedule begins on Oct. 5 at Pacific Lutheran.
Lewis & Clark's home schedule includes Homecoming and Family Weekend on Oct. 26. The Pioneers will try for a third consecutive win over Willamette. The game follows Whitworth's visit on Oct. 12 and precedes the Senior Day game with Puget Sound on Nov. 16. Whitworth won the NWC title last year.