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Philomath
Thursday, January 27, 2022

Football: Lattin earns league’s defensive player of the year; PHS with 6 first-teamers

This past fall on the high school gridiron, Philomath High’s No. 88 seemed to be all over the field. A multi-talented player, the Warriors senior tackled effectively on defense, made key plays on offense and even contributed with his leg on special teams.

Coaches in the 3A Special District 1 West obviously took note of Isaac Lattin’s talents by giving him the Defensive Player of the Year honor.

“Off the field, Isaac’s quiet but I think he plays big on the field,” PHS coach Alex Firth said. “He’s always in position to make a play. His speed was the one thing that maybe caught me off guard a little bit — his ability to close and make a tackle was pretty impressive actually.”

Lattin was one of four Warriors recognized at six positions on the all-league first team, making it at both linebacker and kicker. Another senior, lineman Joseph Choi, earned first-team honors on both sides of the ball. Junior running back David Griffith and junior tight end/split end Ty May were also first-teamers.

Making Lattin’s accomplishment as a player of the year is even more impressive considering that the secret was out — Philomath’s linebacker had to be a player to stop to move the ball on the Warriors.

“Teams were actually scheming against him, which is a compliment … when they’ve singled out one of your players,” Firth said. “So I think he really embraced that position. I believe he was a defensive end last year so transitioning to our middle ‘backer or our monster back — it’s a pretty serious change for what he was asked to do from the previous season.”

The monster back position gives the player a lot of freedom to move around.

“He does have the ability to kind of free flow and make plays but he was really good at reading and reacting and I think that helped us immensely, obviously, defensively,” Firth said. “He was kind of the anchor of that linebacker corps in terms of his ability.”

Philomath also had the ability to kick field goals this season with Lattin able to hit from 40 yards and longer, plus he made a high majority of his extra points.

“The kicking is huge; it gets overlooked,” Firth said. “A lot of teams in our conference just go for two because they don’t have a kicker. … Having confidence in a kid to line up and kick a 40-plus-yard field goal is huge, especially at the high school level. That’s a rare thing.”

Joseph Choi
Joseph Choi (No. 77), senior, made all-league on both sides of the line. (File photo by Logan Hannigan-Downs/Philomath News)

Choi, meanwhile, moved people around for the Warriors from his center position on offense and nose tackle on defense, flourishing in a new coach’s system.

“All of the terminology was new, all of what we asked him to do offensively and defensively was new to him but he did really good,” Firth said.

Choi was so dominant at times with his blocking that it occasionally created an unintended result.

“He would open gaps behind his block because he had blocked so well that it actually allowed some linebacker to run through and you can’t fault a kid for that,” Firth said. “I mean, he just dominated the guy across the line from him.”

Choi not only blocked, but complimented his abilities with skills like blocking kicks.

“I wasn’t surprised that he would be on the first team on both sides because he was such a dominant force on both lines,” Firth said.

David Griffith
David Griffith, junior, earned a spot as a first-team running back. (File photo by Logan Hannigan-Downs/Philomath News)

Griffith, first-team running back, was relied upon as an offensive workhorse at times to pick up tough yards for the Warriors.

“He’s a natural zone runner — he can really see those creases and exploit gaps on his own,” Firth said. “He’s a kid I think teams spent a lot of time on scheming against. We saw an eight-man box pretty much exclusively after about the second game of the season to stop his running.”

But even with defenses focused on Griffith, he was still able to be effective with the ball — and not only running, but catching passes out of the backfield.

“The three positions that were most contested on the (all-league) ballot were running backs, linebackers and linemen. … For him to get first team I think speaks to his ability and obviously we’re looking forward to next year to feature him a little bit more in the run game.”

Ty May
Ty May, junior, was included on the first team at split end, although he more accurately played a hybrid tight end-receiver position. (File photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

May is listed as a split end on the all-league team but he more accurately played a sort of hybrid tight end-receiver in Firth’s modern passing offense.

“Your traditional tight end now has turned into more of a flex slot guy and Ty really fits that bill,” Firth said. “I had him listed as a tight end, we moved him to receiver and he could’ve earned first team at either position.”

Just a junior, May has only scratched the surface on what he can accomplish on the field.

“He has a huge upside and something that we have to do next year is get him the ball more consistently … take a little stress off the running game,” Firth said.

The all-league second team offense includes senior quarterback Caleb Jensen, junior lineman Giovanni Abdelsayed and senior lineman Tyler Tally. On second-team defense, those recognized include senior linebacker Jacob Williams, senior defensive back Blake Niemann and senior defensive back Alek Russell.

Two Warriors were included as honorable mention selections with both at linebacker — sophomore Kaden Muir and Griffith.

Philomath finished the season with a 6-4 record, which included a trip to the Class 3A playoffs. The defense held opponents to 20 points or less in six of the eight games played (two wins were by forfeit).

“I think this year’s defense was the strength of the program,” Firth said. “We did some good things offensively but we just lacked some consistency, especially in the passing game. I think that’s why teams were able to load the box and stop the run and force us to pass. Moving forward, obviously, we have to develop more consistency in that passing game and then deal with those loaded boxes a little better.”

The team’s goal was to qualify for the playoffs.

“We did that — I thought we would go a little bit further in the playoffs but Warrenton was a tough draw,” Firth said. “But we played them well … we just didn’t finish as a team.”


3A SPECIAL DISTRICT 1 WEST ALL-LEAGUE
Offensive Player of the Year: Nate Arce, Dayton
Defensive Player of the Year: Isaac Lattin, Philomath
Lineman of the Year: Morgan Gallagher, Dayton
Coach of the Year: Jacob Peterson, Dayton
FIRST TEAM
OFFENSE
QB—Kane Black, Sr., Amity. RB—Nate Arce, Jr., Dayton; Wyatt Hatch, Sr., Amity; David Griffith, Jr., Philomath. TE/H-B—Ryan Bates, Jr., Dayton. SE—Ty May, Jr., Philomath; Wyatt Baker, Sr., Willamina. OL—David Bowlin, Sr., Dayton; Hunter Barber, Sr., Amity; Kyle Rice, Sr., Amity; Joseph Choi, Sr., Philomath; Ethan Hedgecock, Jr., Dayton.
DEFENSE
DL—Morgan Gallagher, So., Dayton; Hunter Barber, Sr., Amity; Joseph Choi, Sr., Philomath; Isaac Ewing, Sr., Willamina. LB—Dylan Phipps, Sr., Dayton; Reagan Clark, Jr., Amity; Isaac Lattin, Sr., Philomath; Charlie Estrada, Sr., Dayton. DB—Logan Grove, Sr., Amity; Boston Hodges, So., Dayton; Justin DeSmet, So., Dayton; Isaac Rizo, So., Willamina.
SPECIAL TEAMS
K—Isaac Lattin, Sr., Philomath. P—Austin Johnson, Jr., Willamina.
SECOND TEAM
OFFENSE
QB—Caleb Jensen, Sr., Philomath. RB—Logan Grove, Sr., Amity; Zach Smith, So., Dayton; Alex Carrasco, Jr., Taft. TE/H-B—Kaleb Cruickshank, So., Willamina. SE—Evan Halferty, So., Taft. OL—Giovanni Abdelsayed, Jr., Philomath; Brady Hall, Sr., Amity; Jordan Tomas, Sr., Dayton; Tyler Tally, Sr., Philomath; Kolton Ellis, Sr., Scio.
DEFENSE
DL—Lucas Ashley, Jr., Dayton; Brant Bell, Jr., Amity; Ryan Bates, Jr., Dayton; Kyle Ennis, So., Scio. LB—Colby Nyseth, Jr., Amity; Jacob Williams, Sr., Philomath; Spyre Nelson, Sr., Willamina; Sergio Alba, Sr., Amity; Wyatt Baker, Sr., Willamina. DB—Gavin Watson, Jr., Amity; Blake Niemann, Sr., Philomath; Eric Ross, Sr., Willamina; Alek Russell, Sr., Philomath; Cody Roffener, So., Scio.
SPECIAL TEAMS
K—Nate Arce, Jr., Dayton. P—Charlie Estrada, Sr., Dayton.
HONORABLE MENTION
OFFENSE
QB—Gavin Koceja, Jr. Taft. RB—Carson Geneser, Sr., Scio; Wyatt Yocum, Sr., Amity; Justin DeSmet, So., Dayton; Michael Mather, Jr., Amity. TE/H-B—Kyle Ennis, So., Scio; Sergio Alba, Sr., Amity. OL—Andrew Allen, Sr., Willamina; Ethan Valdez, Sr., Dayton.
DEFENSE
DL—Jackson Braa, So., Scio. LB—Kaden Muir, So., Philomath; Zach Smith, So., Dayton; David Griffith, Jr., Philomath.

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