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‘With the first pick, Steve Pyne selects …’ Les Schwab Bowl returns for 74th year with a fun new wrinkle: a player draft

“It was like a mini-NFL Draft. ... It was fun to have all the athletes available to you, not just the ones in your region.”
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By Bob Lundeberg | Photos by Ken Waz 

The Les Schwab Bowl continues to evolve in its eighth decade of existence. 

Last year marked the first time underclassmen were permitted to play in the annual Oregon all-star football game. Another wrinkle has been added for this summer’s 74th edition: a draft. 

The traditional North vs. South format was scrapped in favor of a draft with the aim of putting two highly-competitive teams on the field for the July 2 matchup at Linfield University. Head coaches Steve Pyne (Team Columbia) and Dan Lever (Team Willamette) were able to select players from any classification, region or grade level.

“It was like a mini-NFL Draft,” said Lever, a first-time Les Schwab Bowl participant who led Tualatin to the Class 6A final. “There was definitely some positioning going on between the two sides. It was fun to have all the athletes available to you, not just the ones in your region.” 

Pyne, a veteran Les Schwab Bowl coach, won his fourth state title with Central Catholic last fall. Pyne supported the decision to allow underclassmen in the game and was intrigued by the idea of drafting his roster of players and assistants. 

“Last year as we were there, all of us coaches were sitting around and talking with (organizers) John (McCallum) and Reggie (Walker), and the idea came up about making it a draft instead of having North/South,” Pyne said. “It made it a little more unique. I think the opportunity for a kid from Portland to play with a kid from Medford, Bend or Pendleton is pretty cool.”

Steve Pyne

Walker said between 200 and 250 players were nominated by their coaches for the Les Schwab Bowl, which began in 1948. Of the 80 players selected by Lever and Pyne, more than 40 are committed, signed or being actively recruited by Division I schools.

Opening the all-star game to freshmen, sophomores and juniors was an important step for Walker, the Director of Operations for Prime Time Sports. Walker also runs the nationally-acclaimed Les Schwab Invitational.

“We kind of started planning this years ago when we heard from a bunch of seniors who weren’t going to be able to play because they were reporting early (to college),” Walker said. “As a way to get the top players in the state to participate, we felt like we had to open it up to underclassmen. More than anything else, we just wanted to provide a good setting for all the best players to be able to compete against each other, regardless of their grade and where they are from.” 

In past years, the North vs. South format occasionally led to unbalanced matchups on the field. The organizers settled on a draft to keep the teams as balanced as possible.

The draft began with an opening round in which Lever and Pyne could each select five players of their choice. The following rounds were done position by position (for example, offensive skill position players in round two, offensive and defensive linemen in round three, etc.).

The coaches did not have an agreement with each other to draft their own players. Central Catholic star Riley Williams organically went No. 1 overall to Team Columbia, and Lever spent the next two picks on his biggest stars: Malik Ross and Cole Prusia. 

“I did not want to play against them, man,” Lever said of his top two picks. “They are phenomenal players and great kids. I’m trying to win the game, so I definitely didn’t want those two going against us.”

Dan Lever

Pyne wound up drafting 10 Rams, including sophomore quarterback Cru Newman with the fourth overall pick. Lever and assistant Anthony Newman, who worked under Pyne at Central Catholic and is now at West Linn, snatched up star wide receiver/defensive back Zach Grisham before Pyne could take him.

“It was crazy!” Pyne said. 

Pyne took a couple of 5A players in the first round: North Salem sophomore quarterback/linebacker TC Manumaleuna II and West Albany junior wide receiver/defensive back DeMarcus Houston.

Manumaleuna II holds offers from Florida State, Louisville, Miami and Oregon. Houston, who will miss the game because of injury, is being recruited by several Pac-12 schools. 

“Just from watching on film, TC is composed and is pretty aware of what’s going on around him. He has tremendous upside,” Pyne said. “It’s a little bit selfish of me, but I wanted to stack my guy up against him in practice and see what’s going on because I think Cru is the best quarterback I’ve ever had, and he’s a sophomore. I have high hopes for him and what his college future holds. 

“DeMarcus, he’s just a special player. You watch his film and it just pops.”

Pyne is also excited about Zak Holsey, a senior quarterback/defensive back who put up monster numbers for 1A Waldport. Holsey recently committed to play football at George Fox.

“The kid can flat-out run,” said Pyne, who was impressed by 2A Heppner’s Jayden Wilson at last year’s game. “And he gets the opportunity to come up here and play.”

Lever rounded out his first round with Tualatin quarterback Jackson Jones, North Medford tight end/defensive end AJ Pugliano and Lake Oswego quarterback Jack Layne. Layne’s teammate, running back Gabe Olvera, was Pyne’s other first-round pick.

Pugliano is one of the country’s top prospects for the class of 2024. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound phenom holds offers from Oregon and Oregon State.

“He has all the tools to be a Power 5 tight end or even a defensive end if he wants to be,” Lever said. “He’s a very physical player with great hands who gets separation. He will be a fun piece to work with offensively and will definitely be a mismatch.” 

Lever also looked beyond the 6A ranks, nabbing 3A offensive player of the year Braydon Thornton later in the draft. Thornton put up eye-popping receiving numbers during his career at Siuslaw.

“I feel really good about our team,” Lever said. “We have a little bit more of a diverse roster than the other side. We took a bit of a different approach in going out and getting who we thought best fit the need. It’s going to be a bit of a private school vs. public school matchup.” 

Riley Williams


1, Riley Williams, Central Catholic, 2023

2, Malik Ross, Tualatin, 2022

3, Cole Prusia, Tualatin, 2022

4, Cru Newman, Central Catholic, 2024

5, Jackson Jones, Tualatin, 2022

6, AJ Pugliano, North Medford, 2024 

7, Gabe Olvera, Lake Oswego, 2022

8, TC Manumaleuna II, North Salem, 2024

9, DeMarcus Houston, West Albany, 2023

10, Jack Layne, Lake Oswego, 2022 

Malik Ross


Team Columbia (Steve Pyne) 

Banks: TE/LB Charlie White, 2022

Central Catholic: RB/DB Ellis Bynum, 2022

Central Catholic: RB/LB Gibson Coyle, 2022

Central Catholic: OL/DL Myale Jones, 2022

Central Catholic: TE/LB Riley Williams, 2023

Central Catholic: QB Cru Newman, 2024 

Central Catholic: WR/DB Timmy Mitchell, 2024 

Central Catholic: OL/DL Joe Merlino, 2023

Central Catholic: OL/DLBeau CressAllen, 2023

Central Catholic: C/DL Matix Carpenter, 2024

Central Catholic: K/P Asher Wasjkol, 2022 

Coquille: RB/DB Gunner Yates, 2022

Franklin: OL/DE Mipam Jampa, 2022

Hood River Valley: QB/WR/S Trenton Hughes, 2022

Jesuit: RB/DE Noah Staley, 2023

Jesuit: OL/DT Sylus Wallace, 2023

Jesuit: WR/DB Jace Burton, 2024 

Jesuit: RB/LB Lonnie Burt, 2024

Jesuit: C Roice Cleeland, 2023 

Jesuit: OL Sean Khouri, 2023 

Klamath Union: C/DT Hayden Smith, 2023

Lakeridge: TE/LB Zac Waible, 2022

Lake Oswego: RB/CB Gabe Olvera, 2022

Lake Oswego: LB Dylan Layne, 2022 

Marist Catholic: RB/LB/S Lucas Tuski, 2022

Marist Catholic: OL/DL Kale Paslay, 2022

Newberg: U/LB/P Charlie Evans, 2022

North Medford: WR/DB Bryce Dyer, 2022

North Medford: OL/DL David Fuiava, 2023

North Salem: QB TC Manumaleuna II, 2024 

Scappoose: QB/S Luke McNabb, 2022

Silverton: WR/DB Austin Ratliff, 2022

Sheldon: WR/CB Keegan Line, 2022

Sunset: WR/DB Hayden Hurley, 2022

Thurston: TE/DE Grayson Starck, 2022

Tualatin: OL/DL Lucas Edwards, 2022

Waldport: QB/DB Zakcrye Holsey, 2022

West Albany: WR/CB DeMarcus Houston, 2023

West Linn: U Mark Hamper, 2023 

West Salem: WR/DB Zach Dodsen-Greene, 2022

Westview: OL/DT Bryce Cordell, 2022 

Team Willamette (Dan Lever) 

Barlow: FB/LB Andrew Collins, 2022

Beaverton: WR/DB Kyron Albright, 2022

Central Catholic: WR/DB Zach Grisham, 2022

Churchill: TE/DE Braden Rohde, 2022

Grant: RB/DB Donald "Chili" Stephens, 2023

Grant: TE/LB Jayden Moses, 2023 

Grant: OL/DL Stephen del Giudice, 2024 

Grant: WR/DB Marshune Waters, 2023 

Hood River Valley: WR/DB Ryles Buckley, 2022 

Lake Oswego: QB Jack Layne, 2022

Lake Oswego: OL/DL Austin Leykem, 2022

Liberty: OL/DL Ryan Berger, 2023

Lincoln: RB/TE/DE/LB Brady Kopetz, 2022

Marist Catholic: OL/DL Tanner Relling, 2022

Milwaukie: OL/DT Jake Cooper, 2022

Newberg: FB/LB Hudson Davis, 2023

Newberg: RB/LB Price Pothier, 2022 

North Medford: TE/DE/LB AJ Pugliano, 2024

Roosevelt: QB/WR/DB Imarion Kelly, 2022

Roseburg: QB/DB Colton Masters, 2022 

Silverton: WR/DB Vandon Fessler, 2022

Silverton: OL/DL Orie Schaffers, 2022

Silverton: OL/DL Sam Willis, 2022

Sheldon: OL/DT Tilman Ritchie-Tuisue, 2022

Sherwood: WR/DB Cody Hall, 2022

Siuslaw: WR/DB Braydon Thornton, 2022

Summit: FB/LB Jack Clemans, 2022

Summit: K/P Soren McKee, 2022 

Summit: RB/DE Chip Allers, 2023

Summit: OL/DL Spencer Elliott, 2023

Summit: DB Joe Schutz, 2022 

Sunset: OL/DL Mahmoud Abdelmoneum, 2022

Tualatin: TE/DE Kellen Hale, 2022

Tualatin: RB/DB Malik Ross, 2022 

Tualatin: QB Jackson Jones, 2022

Tualatin: WR/DB Cole Prusia, 2022 

Tualatin: DB Peter Burke, 2022 

West Linn: WR/DB Jordy Tawa, 2022 

Westview: WR/S Drew Bennett, 2022

Wilsonville: WR/S Jack Johnson, 2022 

Selected but will not play 

Central Catholic: WR/DB Jordan King, 2022

Central Catholic: TE/LB Emar'rion Winston, 2022 

Jefferson: CB Trejon Williams, 2022 

Lake Oswego: WR Justius Lowe, 2022 

Lakeridge: WR Joey Olsen, 2024

Mountainside: WR Keenan Speer-Johnson, 2022 

Thurston: TE Jacob Newell, 2022 

Westview: WR Darius Clemons, 2022

Westview: RB Aaron Jones, 2022