Mark Grimmer
Philomath senior Mark Grimmer was named the Oregon West Conference’s Player of the Year. (File photo by Logan Hannigan-Downs/Philomath News)

Senior Mark Grimmer pulled off a feat that may never be seen again in Philomath High soccer history. Incredibly, he scored in all 18 Warrior games this season.

“Over his four years, he has developed almost a disturbed pursuit of scoring goals — you know what I mean?” Philomath High School head coach Dave Ellis said. “I’ve never had a player in all of my years of coaching who was so committed to scoring … just nothing would stop him.”

Grimmer earned the Oregon West Conference’s Player of the Year honor and was one of four first-team selections for the Warriors program.

“I don’t think I’ve had a player have a better year at any level,” Ellis said.

Joining Grimmer on the first team were junior Mateo Candanoza, senior Dylan Bell and junior Teddy Benbow. Philomath’s second-team selections included senior Blaise Pindell, junior Seth Arthurs, freshman Silas Pittman and junior Chase Ringwald. Senior Noah Aynes was on the honorable mention list.

Dave Ellis was named Oregon West Conference Coach of the Year. (File photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Ellis was named the conference’s Coach of the Year.

Grimmer, who finished this fall with 30 goals in all, has been a standout all four of his years in high school. Ellis limited Grimmer to junior varsity over the first two games of his freshman year with a roster loaded with seniors.

“I knew he was good but it became apparent that he provided a goal threat for us we didn’t have on varsity,” Ellis said. “By his fourth or fifth game, he was a regular starter.”

Grimmer’s goal-scoring streak this past fall was certainly unique. As the season wore on, everybody began to wonder when — not if — but when he would find the net, especially in the tight games.

“I can’t believe that’s happened many times, if ever,” Ellis said. “They haven’t kept records (at PHS) but he’s got to have the season goal record at Philomath, he’s got to have the record for scoring in consecutive games.”

Philomath won six games by just one goal, including the state title game that came down to penalty kicks.

“Mark was incredible — we had a fantastic group behind him to support him,” Ellis said. “But you know, as the tip of the spear … with Mark, you’d get at least one goal a game and we didn’t often give up more than one goal, if any.”

Grimmer ran cross-country this fall for the first time and Ellis said he believes it added another dimension to his game because he was able to maintain and extend his work rate.

“I remember the game away at Stayton, we had the lead and at the end — he’s a forward — but he was the one sprinting around pressuring their back four keeping them off of us,” Ellis said. “As much as his goal in that game helped us win, his defending from up front helped us win, which isn’t something you usually associate with Mark.”

First-team selection Mateo Candanoza earned a reputation as a player who worked hard for the ball. (File photo by Logan Hannigan-Downs/Philomath News)

Candanoza’s first-team recognition was also well deserved with a work ethic easily noticed by opposing coaches.

“Mateo, he fought for the ball, he won the ball, he did the work, he played people through, he was creative, he scored goals, he made assists,” Ellis said. “Mark gets a lot of the attention but I think Mateo’s contribution this year was, if not equal, very near, it was just in things that you can’t quantify in statistics.”

Candanoza usually had two or three opposing players on him.

“And he’s so comfortable with the ball at his feet, he never felt pressure — that kind of steady influence, that ability to be calm under pressure, to find feet to make things happen,” Ellis said. “Mark was the leading vote-getter for the first team and Mateo was fourth. That’s a phenomenal year for him.”

Senior Dylan Bell impacted Philomath’s defense in a key way, not only because of his own skills but by bringing the rest of the back four together through his leadership. (File photo by Logan Hannigan-Downs/Philomath News)

Bell, a first-team selection on defense, developed into a top soccer player with an accurate leg. Ellis said he remembers Bell showing up his freshman year with the belief that he was going to be a forward.

“In the last two years, he’s really fulfilled his potential and then exceeded what we thought he was capable of,” Ellis said. “We’ll miss his organization and his intelligence and just his general ability in the back.”

Philomath finished the season with 10 shutouts.

“And we gave up more than one goal only twice,” Ellis said. “All of the boys had a role in that but Dylan had a huge role in the leadership with keeping that back four together. He kind of did it all for us — hit free kicks, had the long throws.”

Bell suffered an injury in the first half of the state title game and even though he was visibly not at 100%, he tried to stay on the field.

“After the year he’s had and how he played, if he wanted to be on the pitch, we were going to keep him on the pitch,” Ellis said. “He helped us get through some tough moments in that game but at the end of the day, I was glad we won it so he could go off a state champion because he definitely deserved it.”

Junior Teddy Benbow, seen here accepting the Most Valuable Player award following the state championship victory over Hidden Valley, did not allow much to get through on him with 10 shutouts and 16 of 18 opponents scoring one goal or less. (Photo by Logan Hannigan-Downs/Philomath News)

Benbow’s first-team honor at goalkeeper was almost a lock and his skills were on full display in the state championship win over Hidden Valley. Benbow gave Philomath the upper hand with a diving save on one of the opponent’s PK attempts and then he converted on the game-clinching shot that led into his unforgettable slide on the turf when he was mobbed by celebrating teammates.

Benbow was the championship game’s Most Valuable Player and Ellis believe he’s the best keeper in the state.

“When Teddy showed up, he had a lot of ability and a lot of competitive nature but didn’t necessarily have composure and he lacked a bit of size his freshman year,” Ellis said, thinking back to Benbow’s first year in the program. “His sophomore year, he was much improved and this year, it was all about Teddy. Honestly, we probably could have leaned on him harder than we did but our defense in front of him was excellent. And when something did get through, nine times out of 10 he took care of it.”

Benbow still has another season to go with the Warriors.

“He’ll have to grow a bit next year without Dylan in front of him but I have every confidence that he’ll improve and it’ll improve those that play in front of him,” Ellis said. “Incredibly smart kid, incredibly well coached … has a bright future in the game if he wants to work hard enough to get it. And every indication is he’s ready for more.”

Among the other players honored, Arthurs and Ringwald on the second team and Aynes as honorable mention were definitely not surprises. Ellis was glad to see Pindell and Pittman on the second team.

“I thought Blaise getting second-team all-league was phenomenal,” Ellis said. “That was nice; I was glad to see him up there. And Silas as well, you know. I mean, there aren’t many freshmen with all-league honors, so that was a recognition of the work he did.”

The 17-1 record in 2021 represents the best-ever winning percentage (.944) in Philomath High’s boys soccer history. Back in 2000 under coach Shaul Levi, the Warriors went 17-1-1, falling in the semifinals to Catlin Gabel, 2-1, in double overtime. The team’s final record during the state championship season of 2012 was 13-2-3 under Anton Grube.

Player of the Year: Mark Grimmer, Philomath
Coach of the Year: Dave Ellis, Philomath
Field—Bryan Cortes, Jr., Cascade; Mark Grimmer, Sr., Philomath; Ricky Huffman, Sr., Sisters; Santos Navarro, Sr., Stayton; Jayden Esparza, Sr., Stayton; Tate Kaczmarek, Jr., Sisters; Mateo Candanoza, Jr., Philomath; Ishmel Esparza, So., Stayton. Defenders—Omar Garcia, Jr., Stayton; Dylan Bell, Sr., Philomath. Goalkeeper—Teddy Benbow, Jr., Philomath.
Field—Samuel Horne, Jr., Cascade; Blaise Pindell, Sr., Philomath; Caleb Christman, Jr., Sweet Home; Owen Samuell, Jr., Stayton; Tony Gonzalez, So., Newport; Aidan Pierias, Sr., Newport; Seth Arthurs, Jr., Philomath; Silas Pittman, Fr., Philomath. Defenders—Chase Ringwald, Jr., Philomath; Sean Alvarez, Sr., Sisters. Goalkeeper—Alberto Rodriguez, Sr., Newport.
Field—Owen Samuell, Jr., Stayton; Noah Aynes, Sr., Philomath; Brandon Withers, Sr., Cascade; Aidan Eckert, Jr., Sisters; Vincent Christian, So., Sisters. Defenders—Noah Pittman, Sr., Sisters; Riley Burns, So., Stayton; Brock Spink, So., Newport; Pedro Garibaldi, Sr., Stayton; Giovanni Diaz-Gomez, Sr., Newport; Jacob Hampton, Jr., Cascade; Chris Christman, Jr., Sweet Home; Colton Cuarteros, Sr., Cascade; Joseph Jimenez, Sr., Newport. Goalkeepers—Evan Towry, Jr., Sweet Home; Ethan Boltjes-Villanueva, Jr., Cascade. has no paywall and to keep it that way, we rely on voluntary memberships. If you’re already a member, thank you for contributing. To join our community as a member or to make a one-time contribution, please CLICK HERE.