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Oregon’s top high school football players: Meet the state’s best defensive ends

Who are the top defensive ends in Oregon high school football this season?

By René Ferrán, Mike Wilson, Bob Lundeberg, Mitchell Forde and Paul Valencia

Over the next week, we’ll be taking a position-by-position look at some of the top returning players in Oregon high school football. Our next list focuses on the defensive ends.

IMPORTANT NOTE: These lists were compiled early in the season and are based mostly on last year’s performances and what happened in the first few weeks of this season. Before the season ends, we will be highlighting many of the new stars who have emerged this fall. 

There are hundreds of standout football players in Oregon and these lists are not intended to be comprehensive. Let us know about any other players you think should be added!  

Teitum Tuioti (Sheldon) photo by Leon Neuschwander 

Our complete high school football preview:

Breaking down every 6A, 5A, 4A team in the state

State leaders through Week 5:

Class 6A | Class 5A | Class 4A

Chip Allers, Summit, senior

One of the best all-around athletes in the state, Allers is a 6-foot-3, 215-pound specimen that can play several positions on both sides of the ball. Allers, a three-star prospect, was an honorable mention 6A all-state defensive lineman as a junior and holds Division I offers from Army and Idaho. “We play him at defensive end because there’s not an offensive lineman in the state who can stay with him athletically,” coach Corben Hyatt said. “He’s just physically different than most high school kids.”

Richie Anderson, Tualatin, senior

Anderson committed to Colorado State after a phenomenal junior season for which he earned all-state honorable mention on both sides of the ball. He finished with 17 tackles for loss, 10 sacks, four forced fumbles and 56 total tackles for the 6A runner-up Timberwolves. He ranks No. 3 on 247Sports’ state recruiting list and No. 5 by On3 Sports. “He is long and rangy and is difficult to block off the edge,” coach Dominic Ferraro said. “He’s an exceptional athlete, and I expect big things from him this year.”

Jarrett Armstrong, La Grande, senior

Armstrong was a two-way all-GOL first-team selection last fall and anchors a veteran group this season. “He’s not the biggest kid, but he’s an explosive athlete and hard-hitting football player,” coach Rich McIlmoil said. “He loves contact and is not afraid to get his nose into things.” 

Ethan Biondine, Lakeridge, junior

Biondine, ranked No. 15 among the state’s class of 2024 recruits, has started on defense each of the past two seasons, receiving second-team all-league recognition as a sophomore after making 80 tackles (most among returning players), including 13½ for loss and four sacks. “The only way to describe Ethan is ‘violent,’” Pacers coach Spencer Phillips said. “He’s fearless, the ultimate competitor, and the lifeline of our defense.”

Howard Blanton, Myrtle Point, senior

Blanton last season was a second-team 1A all-state selection on defense, finishing the year with 27 tackles (nine for loss, including a safety) and 18 quarterback hurries. He also caught 18 passes for 433 yards and five touchdowns. “Howard plays with a physical style and doesn’t shy from contact,” coach Ryan Miller said. 

Landon Cunningham, Newport, senior

Cunningham was a second-team all-Oregon West selection for the Cubs last season, ranking among the team leaders with 23 tackles (three for loss).

Tristan Davis, Lakeridge, senior

Davis transferred over the summer from Wilsonville, where he was a Class 5A all-state honorable mention selection as a junior with 45 tackles (10 for loss) and eight sacks. His recruiting blew up during the summer — he jumped to No. 5 on 247Sports’ state rankings and No. 1 on On3 Sports’ list and has committed to Arizona. “He has been working very hard since transferring,” Pacers coach Spencer Phillips said. “He is a great young man and has a chance to be very disruptive as a defensive end.” 

Tanner Dobeck, South Umpqua, senior

Dobeck last season was a terror on the edge for the Lancers during their run to the 3A state final, winning Far West League and state defensive lineman of the year honors. He had three tackles for loss and two sacks in their semifinal win over Vale and six tackles against Siuslaw in the title game. Coach Steve Stebbins described him as “a strong, quick and extremely motivated defensive lineman who anchors the strong side of our line.” 

Josh Ellis, Rainier, senior

Ellis was one of three Columbians defensive linemen to receive all-state recognition last season, making the 3A third team after finishing with 20 tackles (six for loss) and 3½ sacks. 

Jackson Farris, Valley Catholic, sophomore

Farris was one of the bright spots on a Valiants squad that struggled last season, finishing with 31 solo tackles (10 for loss), two sacks and two forced fumbles and making the all-Cowapa first team in his first year playing football. He also starts at running back this season, rushing for 175 yards in Week 1. “He has great speed for his size (6-2, 230) and is very coachable,” coach Michael Snyder said. “Colleges have already been reaching out to me about him. He can get off a block using his speed and hands and is able to chase down the ball carrier.” 

Ethan Finnigan, Gladstone, senior

The best player on a strong Gladstone defense last season was Finnigan, who earned first-team all-league honors and received honorable mention all-state after making 51 tackles (12 for loss) and 7½ sacks. He has been starting at defensive end for the varsity squad since his freshman season. Coach Cam Sommer said he’s seen Finnigan take on more of a leadership role now that he’s a senior. 

Oliver Fisher, Sherwood, senior

Fisher, a Boise State commit at tight end, made his mark on defense last season as a first-team all-Pacific selection with 21 tackles (five for loss) and three sacks.

Reed Gerber, Mountainside, senior

Gerber became a starter during the spring 2021 season, following in the footsteps of one of the program’s “originals,” his older brother Shane, who was an all-league offensive lineman. Reed made the all-Metro second team on defense last season, finishing with 4½ tackles for loss and three sacks, and served as the team’s long snapper. “He has definitely matured physically quite a bit,” coach John Mannion said. “He’s one of the foundations of our program coming into the season and has earned his stripes, for sure.”

Reese Hare, Tigard, senior

Hare followed a junior season for which he received all-league honorable mention on defense (25 tackles, three for loss) by being named Senior Defensive Lineman MVP at Linfield’s team camp. He’s added 15 solid pounds of muscle with his work in the weight room. “He’s honing his craft and gotten stronger,” Tigers coach John Kemper said. “I’m excited for him.”

Jake Holmes, West Linn, senior

Holmes played first base for the state champion baseball team in the spring and now returns to the gridiron, where last season he was an all-state honorable mention selection at defensive end with 28 tackles (five for loss) and three sacks. “He’s smart, athletic, steely-eyed, and will anchor our D-line, where he covers a lot of ground sideline to sideline,” coach Jon Eagle said.

Brock Hubert, Stayton, senior

The first name out of coach Randy Nyquist’s mouth when discussing the reasons he’s optimistic for this season was Hubert, who is in his third season as a starter at defensive end and tight end. His combination of size — Nyquist said he’s up to 6-foot-6 and 275 pounds — and agility makes him a matchup nightmare for opponents on both sides of the ball. “That’s one thing I can hang my hat on, knowing that people are going to have to figure out how to deal with him,” Nyquist said.

Toby Johnston, Marshfield, senior

Johnston moved from linebacker to defensive end as a sophomore and quickly became a mainstay on the line. He made the all-Sky Em first team on defense (honorable mention all-state) last season with 48 tackles (5½ for loss) and two sacks. He’s a third-year starter on both lines. “While we expect to have a good defensive line this year, Toby is the leader of this group,” said defensive coordinator Jacob Snoddy.

Jesse Jones-Nguyen, McMinnville, senior

Jones-Nguyen received all-Pacific second-team recognition on both sides of the ball last season, and during camp Grizzlies coach Ty Tomlin raved that “he is going to be a stud lineman for us this year. Big, strong and athletic, so he should give opposing O-linemen some trouble.”

Ayden Kanott, Hidden Valley, senior

Kanott was a second-team all-Skyline selection on both sides of the ball last season, finishing second on the team with 42 tackles (11½ for loss). Mustangs coach Mike Fanger praised his “great motor” and called him “our leader — he will have to bring people along and make them follow.” 

Keegan McDonald, Mazama, senior

McDonald entered the starting lineup on defense last October and by season’s end had made the all-Skyline second team, finishing with nine tackles (2½ for loss). “He moves well for his size and has the ability to reestablish the line of scrimmage,” coach Vic Lease said. 

Gavin Nguyen, Sprague, senior

A second-team all-Mountain Valley defensive selection as a junior, Nguyen can play tight end along with dominating on both lines. “He’s pretty versatile,” coach Jay Minyard said. “In high school, he’s big enough to play on the defensive line, but he’s fast enough that he can play linebacker, and I think that’s his ambition in college.”

Owen Northcutt, Henley, senior

Northcutt was a second-team all-Skyline selection on both lines last fall, besting his brother Garrett by one tackle (45 to 44) to go with 4½ tackles for loss and 1½ sacks. Coach Alex Stork called him “another guy who we expect to be a key contributor. As a senior, we’re going to rely on him to be a leader for the line groups on both sides.”

Carson Parrish, Lost River, senior

Parrish was the Mountain Valley League’s defensive lineman of the year as a junior and averaged 10 tackles this season during the Raiders’ 2-0 start. “Talk to any team we face, and they want to see where No. 22 is,” coach Dennis Dunlea said. “That’s because he sets the edge, is tough, athletic and relentless after the ball.” Parrish also was an all-league selection at guard. 

Warren Rose, St. Paul, senior

Rose last season was a 1A first-team all-state selection for the Buckaroos, helping lead them to the semifinals, where he had six tackles (2½ for loss) in defeat against Powder Valley.

Howard Rushton, Nyssa, senior

Rushton was a two-way selection to the 3A all-state team last season, receiving honorable mention on the defensive line. 

Campbell Sager, Westview, senior

Sager earned all-league honors on both sides of the ball last season, including first-team recognition on defense after making 27 tackles (three for loss) and two sacks. He ranks No. 26 on 247Sports’ class of 2023 state list and boasts offers from Army and Air Force. “He’s a very athletic edge player who’s very technically sound,” coach Ryan Atkinson said. “He puts his team first and is a leader.” 

Oaklund Selfors, Putnam, senior

The 6-foot-3, 195-pound Selfors was a first-team all-NWOC East selection last season, and coach Tim Jacobs expected him to be among the NWOC’s most disruptive pass rushers this season. “He’s long and lean and very explosive,” Jacobs said. “He can get out of his stance in a hurry, and he has above-average speed and quickness that really allows him to drive past blockers and get off blocks.” 

Briggs Snell, Kennedy, senior

Snell last season made the 2A all-state team on both sides of the ball for the state finalists, including first-team honors on defense.

Noah Staley, Jesuit, senior

Staley — the son of Chris Staley, an all-state defensive lineman on the 1987 Jesuit team — received 6A all-state honorable mention as a defensive end last season. “He has great speed and the potential to break a big play at any time, and he is tough on defense,” Crusaders coach Ken Potter said.

Ryder Swanson, Oregon City, junior

Swanson entered last season as an untested sophomore and finished it a second-team all-Three Rivers selection and the anchor of the Pioneers’ defensive line. “He’s a very smart football player with much improved physicality,” coach Shane Hedrick said.

Aisea Takau, Roosevelt, senior

Takau was a first-team all-PIL defensive lineman as a junior, and coach Ryan McCants said the work he has put in during the offseason has paid off. “He looks really good right now,” McCants said. “He’s moving around, looking like a great athlete.”

Leithan Thompson, Sandy, senior

Thompson was an impact player in all phases last season, making second-team all-Mt. Hood Conference on offense and defense and the first team as a punter. This season, the 6-foot-3, 200-pounder has moved from safety to defensive end. “He’s a really savvy football player, a really smart football player,” coach Josh Dill said. 

Teitum Tuioti, Sheldon, senior

Tuioti, the son of new Oregon defensive line coach Tony Tuioti and a three-star prospect who’s committed to the Ducks, is rated the state’s top senior prospect by 247Sports. He is an edge rusher who showed his dominance in the second half of the Irish’s Week 2 win at West Linn. “He’s just an incredibly violent kid. He’s a Division I player, no doubt about it,” Irish coach Josh Line said. 

Daevon Vereen, Banks, senior

Vereen was an honorable mention 4A all-state selection last season, when he had 21½ tackles for loss, 14 hurries and nine sacks among his 70 tackles. He has received several small-college offers and might also wrestle collegiately — he was the 182-pound state runner-up last winter. Coach Cole Linehan likened him to the Energizer Bunny. “He just doesn’t stop, and he’s so fast off the edge,” Linehan said. “He’s the strongest kid on the field and in the best shape right now. He gives O-linemen fits, for sure.” 

Our complete high school football preview:

Breaking down every 6A, 5A, 4A team in the state

State leaders through Week 5:

Class 6A | Class 5A | Class 4A