A flurry of new players have been signed to Portland State’s soccer and football teams in the past few weeks. Both the soccer and football team have signed numerous high school seniors, transfer students and junior college players to compete in the upcoming season in an attempt to improve upon last year’s performance. These new additions should enhance a couple of teams that had less than stellar performances last season. The football team barely missed the playoffs with a 6-5 record and fourth place in the Big Sky, while the soccer team also finished fourth in the Big Sky.
The football team has been especially busy the past few weeks, bringing in 23 new additions for the 2006 season. This talent consists of five four-year transfers, 10 junior college athletes and eight high school seniors. Head coach Tim Walsh struck a fine balance between offensive and defensive players among the new signees, with 13 players suiting up to play defense and the remaining 10 players reserved for the offensive side of the ball.
Adding 13 players to a defense that was ranked sixth out of eight teams in the Big Sky Conference in total defense last season should give the Vikings a substantial boost on the defensive side of the ball. Portland State hopes to have filled the void that first team all-Big Sky linebacker Joey King with linebackers Dallas Smith from Foothill High School, junior KJ McCrae from Santa Rosa Junior College and junior Dave Ronning from Orange Coast Community College.
Ranking last in the Big Sky in pass defense last season, allowing 230 completions for 2,632 yards over the course of the season, the Vikings realized that they must sign some players to their depleted secondary. Portland State met their needs in the secondary by signing three players, including safety Jake Fetzer from Beaverton High School. Fetzer lettered in football four times during his high school tenure, being named first team all-state as both a wide receiver and defensive back.
The Vikings also addressed some issues on offense with their 10 signees, especially with the loss of four first team all-Big Sky selections on offense in wide receiver Shaun Bodiford, running back Joe Rubin, fullback Allen Kennett and tight end Scott Weaver. One of the new marquee athletes that will join the Vikings next year is running back MuAmmar Ali from New Mexico. Ali is not the physical, brute back that graduating star Joe Rubin was but instead has his own distinct running style as an allusive, shifty and quick running back.
Replacing Bodiford’s offensive production will definitely be difficult for the Vikings next season, however junior wide receiver Brendan Ferrigno should be an adequate replacement after having a promising season with 410 yards and four touchdowns in 2005. Another potential replacement could be transfer wide receiver Tremayne Kirkland from UNLV, who is also a heralded for his kick-returning ability.
The Portland State soccer team has also done their fair share of signing players the past few weeks, which is certainly necessary after graduating 10 seniors from the 2005 team. As a result of the graduating seniors the Vikings have evident voids in the defense unit and goalkeeping duties. Beginning last Monday a total of 12 players were added in just three days to the team to help fill the void that these graduating seniors have created.
Portland State head soccer coach Tim Bennett recruited players from a wide range of locations, including Alaska, Oregon, Washington, California and Alaska. Among the new players, the Vikings added four forwards to help the Vikings improve upon their fourth place position in the Big Sky Conference for points and goals scored at the conclusion of last season. These players may also improve the number of shots that the Vikings are able to take after averaging 10.72 shots per game last season, which was good enough for fifth in the conference.
Two midfielders were added to the Vikings’ roster for the 2006 season. The two newly signed midfielders are Jennifer Lee from Juanita High School in Kirkland, Wash., and Amanda Sekijima from Inglemoor High School in Woodinville, Wash. These versatile additions should help the Vikings improve on both their offense and defense in the upcoming season.
Bennett also signed four defensive players to shore up a Viking defense that has only three returning defensive players from a unit that allowed 1.5 goals per game in 2005. In addition to the defensive players, Bennett recruited two goalkeepers to a roster that has no returning goalkeepers for next season.
Rachel Jarvis is from Lake Oswego High School, where she lettered all four years and was also a four-time All-Three Rivers League honoree for her goalkeeping ability. Cris Lewis is from John F. Kennedy High School in Burien, Wash., where she was an All-State performer as a senior and three-time member of the Washington Olympic Development Program (ODP). Her ODP team won the National and Regional IV championships in 2004.
Both the Portland State football and soccer teams have done an abundance of work during the off-season that they hope will transfer over to successful regular seasons in 2006. The 23 players signed by the football team and the 10 signed by the soccer team should prove to be adequate replacements for the graduating seniors and, hopefully for Viking fans, lead the Vikings to more successful seasons in 2006.