Anthony Stoudamire went 44-27 in six seasons as the coach at Jefferson. (Courtesy photo)
Anthony Stoudamire went 44-27 in six seasons as the coach at Jefferson. (Courtesy photo)

As much as Anthony Stoudamire enjoyed being Roosevelt's offensive coordinator for the last four seasons, part of his heart has remained at Portland Interscholastic League rival Jefferson.

That's where Stoudamire got into high school football coaching when he left Portland State in the late 1970s. And that's where he had one of the school's most successful tenures as a head coach, going 44-27 during a six-season run (2006-11) that included a 5A runner-up finish in 2009.

So when presented with the opportunity to return as the Democrats' head coach this summer, Stoudamire couldn't resist. Last week, he agreed to replace Houston Lillard, who resigned after one season.

“I was totally wrapped up and involved in the Roosevelt program, up until last Thursday when I was offered the Jefferson job,” Stoudamire said. “I was Roosevelt all the way. It was tough to leave Roosevelt. I think Roosevelt is going to do some special things this year, also.

“But Jeff is where I started, so it's kind of like going home. At this stage of my career, I just needed to do that for me.”

Stoudamire said his primary goal is to bring stability to the Jefferson program. Since he left Jefferson after the 2011 season, the Democrats have had six coaches in nine seasons.

In the last four seasons, Jefferson went 5-5 under Anthony Jordan (2017), 2-7 under Ritchie Martin (2018), 6-4 under Don Johnson (2019) and 2-3 under Lillard. Stoudamire aims to stop the revolving door of coaches.

“The kids don't deserve that, the community doesn't deserve that, and Jefferson High School doesn't deserve that,” Stoudamire said. “Those kids need stability. They need someone that's going to be there for them. I know things happen in coaches' lives, but six coaches in nine years is a little much.”

Stoudamire, who graduated from Washington High School in 1972, spent 19 seasons coaching in the Jefferson program. He began as a freshman coach under Billie Frazier in 1978 and left the high school in the mid-1980s to develop a Jefferson youth program that won multiple city championships.

Stoudamire returned as an assistant under Mark Pinder and Tim Price and became head coach in 2006. He led the Democrats to the 5A quarterfinals in 2007, the semifinals in 2008, the championship game in 2009 and the quarterfinals in 2010.

“I say it to this day, we could have competed at the 6A level and been fine,” Stoudamire said. “We had a group of kids that actually really bought into what we were doing, and my vision. They wanted to put in the work. We were fortunate enough to find some linemen who actually put in the work, and were pretty big and pretty fast. That was a great run.”

The 2009 team, which lost to Hillsboro 20-6 in the 5A final, boasted a line that averaged about 270 pounds.

“We wanted to get physical with people, and we did,” Stoudamire said.

Stoudamire became the coach at Benson of the PIL in 2012. The shorthanded Techsters struggled during his tenure, going 0-9, 1-8 and 0-8.

In 2017, he joined the staff at Roosevelt. He coached three seasons under Price and one season under Ryan McCants, who went 1-5 in his head-coaching debut this year.

Stoudamire is working on putting together his coaching staff at Jefferson. He said DeAngelo Edwards and Jonathan Simpson will return as assistants, and he is adding DeAngelo Bell, who was a receiver and defensive back at Jefferson (2007-10) before a college career at Montana Tech.

“I'm looking to get some young, fresh coaches in with some good ideas that can inspire the kids, and show the kids that, 'I went through this program, and I went on to college and got my degree, I'm successful, and I'm coming to give back now,'” Stoudamire said.

He said he is looking for “young guys that are interested in being head coaches. When I step away from Jeff, I want that next coach to be on Jeff's staff. So the kids will know that, and the continuity will continue.”

Stoudamire had a workout for players the day after he was hired and said more than 40 attended. He said Jefferson has a “great sophomore class,” and he was encouraged that 15 freshmen showed up to the workout.

“They've got a really good crop,” Stoudamire said. “The tools are there to build a solid program. So I'm really excited about it.'

Stoudamire has another football project he is pursuing. He and Price co-own and co-coach the Oregon Ravens women's team, which just finished its inaugural season in a 20-team national league.

“That's something I'm going to be putting a lot of my attention to in the future is developing women's football,” he said.

Willamette picks Leonard

Former South Eugene coach Kevin Leonard is the new coach at 5A Willamette. He succeeds Josh Wolfram, who went 18-35 in six seasons.

Leonard compiled an 11-33 record in five seasons as the coach at South Eugene (2014-18). He served as defensive coordinator at Churchill in 2019 before taking off last season to undergo knee replacement surgery.

Leonard graduated in 1981 from Churchill, where he was an all-state running back. He played two seasons at Portland State and one year of semi-pro ball.

He started his coaching career in 1992. He was the defensive coordinator at South Eugene (2001-06) and Churchill (2007-12) and returned to South Eugene as the defensive coordinator in 2013.

Caruso to Lincoln

Lincoln has hired Matt Caruso as coach to replace Jeremy Johnson, who left to take the job at Newberg after going 13-12 in three seasons.

Caruso assisted in the Lincoln program before spending last season on the staff at Milwaukie.

“Matt’s experience coaching at the high school level, his football IQ, and his love for our school and our athletes will make him a great head coach for our program,” Cardinals athletic director Jessica Russell said in a release.

Harrisburg goes with Beach

Chase Beach, 27, has taken over as coach at 3A Harrisburg.

Beach graduated in 2012 from Thurston, where he played receiver and tight end. He has been coaching since 2013, mostly as the receivers coach and passing game coordinator at Willamette. He spent one season as the offensive coordinator at 4A Cottage Grove.

Harrisburg, which won the state title in 2016, finished 0-6 this year, its first winless season since 2006. Ed Ethell coached the team the last two seasons, going 3-12.