Lakeview senior Gavin Patterson has rushed for a team-high 735 yards. (Photo courtesy Kevin Winter/Lake County Examiner)
Lakeview senior Gavin Patterson has rushed for a team-high 735 yards. (Photo courtesy Kevin Winter/Lake County Examiner)

One of the state's biggest turnarounds this football season is at 2A Lakeview.

The Honkers, who finished 2-7 in 2019 and 1-2 in the spring, are 7-1 and ranked No. 3 in the OSAAtoday 2A coaches poll. It represents their most wins since 2011, when they went 8-3.

They are doing it under a first-year coach in Ryan Moss, who took over for Rick Stupak.

“As soon as I got in the weight room and had summer workouts with the kids, I saw there was a lot of buy-in, so I was excited from the get-go,” Moss said.

Lakeview's only loss is a 30-27 nonleague defeat to 3A Sutherlin. The Honkers (7-1, 5-0) have clinched the Special District 4 title and can complete a perfect run through the district Saturday with a home win over Reedsport (4-4, 3-3).

Lakeview is third in the OSAA power rankings, behind No. 1 Heppner and No. 2 Kennedy, so the Honkers should be in a favorable spot in the playoff bracket.

“We've put ourselves in position to host a home playoff game,” Moss said. “It's a stretch for anybody to come out here. We're almost a mile high.”

Lakeview is getting a big season from Gavin Patterson, a 5-foot-10, 200-pound senior running back and linebacker. A lineman in his first three high school seasons, Patterson switched to running back and has rushed for a team-high 735 yards and 10 touchdowns.

“He's powerful. He's tough to bring down,” Moss said. “As a former lineman, I think he's just loving it.”

The Honkers have a sophomore at quarterback in Benny Alves, the brother of the spring starter, Dayton Alves. Benny has had some growing pains but had his best game of the season in Saturday's 32-0 win over Glide, throwing for 177 yards and three touchdowns and running for 38 yards and one score.

“We're keeping things to where he's comfortable with his decisions, and confident,” Moss said of Alves, who has eight touchdown passes this season. “He's tough. Of the quarterbacks I've coached, he's one of the most humble and coachable.”

Senior Max Graham leads the team in receiving with 18 catches for 357 yards. Graham has two touchdown catches and senior Collin Markus and junior Brayson Granger have three each.

The Honkers expect to get a boost for the postseason with the return of senior receiver Cael Stratton. He broke his collarbone in preseason practice, returned for the Sutherlin game, suffered a setback and missed the last three games.

“He's like a coach on the field,” Moss said of Stratton, the son of defensive coordinator Lane Stratton.

The defense has been stellar, holding opponents to 13.0 points per game. The Honkers have yielded only eight points in their last three games, including back-to-back shutouts of Illinois Valley and Glide.

The nucleus of the defense is the linebacking crew of Patterson, sophomore Adrian Stubbs and senior Morgan Ludwig, who won the 182-pound division in the season-ending 2A/1A wrestling tournament in June.

In the loss to Sutherlin, Lakeview trailed 24-7 at half but rallied to within 30-27 and reached the Bulldogs' 9-yard line in the final minutes, but the threat ended with an interception.

“If we came out in the first half playing like we did in the third, fourth quarter, that's our game, no doubt,” Moss said.

The Honkers recorded a forfeit victory over No. 4 Coquille (5-1, 4-1) – the second-place team in the district – on Sept. 18 due to the Red Devils having COVID issues. Coquille defeated Lakeview 44-0 in the spring and 54-18 in 2019.

Moss graduated in 2005 from Burns, where he played for coach Terry Graham, before going on to play defensive end at Eastern Oregon. He was the coach for an eight-man team in Eureka, Nev., for two seasons and assisted at 2A Kennedy for one year before spending the last seven seasons assisting at Kenai Central in Alaska.

Shortly after Moss landed a teaching position at Lakeview in the spring, Stupak stepped down, and Moss was hired as coach.

His offense is a composite of the wing-T, run-and-shoot spread and a power running game with an inverted wishbone. He kept some of the concepts from the run-and-shoot spread offense run by Stupak.

“We've been mixing it up,” Moss said.

Moss said the future is bright for Lakeview football. The grade 7-8 team is undefeated and filled with younger siblings of the high school varsity team.

“They're champing at the bit to get up to high school,” Moss said. “The Pop Warner teams, from the second grade all the way up, practice right around us. There's a huge culture of football that's growing in Lakeview.”

For now, the Honkers are focused on finishing the regular season strong and making a playoff run. They made the quarterfinals as recently as 2018, when they won the Special District 5 title.

“If we take care of business, we'll be there,” Moss said. “I feel good about my team's chances.”