Columbia River Chieftains are just ‘one big happy family’

Paul Valencia
Paul Valencia

VANCOUVER — The other team tried to run the same play twice in a row.

Big mistake with Koben Jamison in the defensive backfield.

On the first attempt, a receiver did get open but the quarterback missed his man.

Jamison noticed, communicated with the rest of the defensive backs, and made an immediate adjustment.

The Chieftains enjoy taking their turn taking down the “Tackle Wheel” in practice. Photo by Paul Valencia
The Chieftains enjoy taking their turn taking down the “Tackle Wheel” in practice. Photo by Paul Valencia
Koben Jamison figured he would be used more as a wide receiver last year. Instead, his new coach saw potential on defense. Jamison then earned the defensive player of the year honor for the Class 2A GSHL. Photo by Paul Valencia
Koben Jamison figured he would be used more as a wide receiver last year. Instead, his new coach saw potential on defense. Jamison then earned the defensive player of the year honor for the Class 2A GSHL. Photo by Paul Valencia

Sure enough, on the next play, Jamison saw it all develop. That receiver that was open on the previous play, well, he was not open this time. Jamison got the interception, then ran it back for a touchdown.

It was this play, in Week 4 of the 2016 high school football season, when Jamison knew he had something going, that he really had made it as a defensive player for the Columbia River Chieftains.

As a sophomore, he thought of himself more of a wide receiver. As a junior, though, the school’s new coach saw his player’s potential on defense.

Jamison put trust in the move, and by November, Jamison was named the Class 2A Greater St. Helens League’s Defensive Player of the Year.

Now as a senior, expect Jamison to be even more dominant. His coach will move him around to let him do his thing.  

“He can play everywhere,” Swain said. “He just does everything.”

Linebacker, safety, corner, whatever.

“Don’t be afraid to play somewhere you’re not used to,” Jamison said.

ClarkCountyToday.com reporter Paul Valencia previews all 18 of Clark County’s high school football teams this week with the assistance of photographer/videographer Mike Schultz. On Tuesday, we begin the series with a look at the Class 4A Greater St. Helens League teams. Checkback in coming days for the previews of Class 3A and 2A GSHL and Class 1A Trico League teams as we prepare you for the 2017 high school football season.
Click to view all previews.

The athlete is quick to point out he has not mastered anything. He continues to ask questions about coverages and zones. There are different roles for the positions he plays on defense.

His key, he said, is taking in all the coaching, all the advice, and applying it on the field. Jamison credits Swain for his success.

“The man is a genius. He knows what he’s doing,” Jamison said. “The way he sees football. It’s a different language than everybody else thinks. We feed off his knowledge.”

Columbia River’s defense has a chance to be “special,” the coach said. The Chieftains will need their defense to be top of the line while the offense takes time to get in a groove with a new offensive line. Photo by Paul Valencia
Columbia River’s defense has a chance to be “special,” the coach said. The Chieftains will need their defense to be top of the line while the offense takes time to get in a groove with a new offensive line. Photo by Paul Valencia

A year ago, the Chieftains just missed out on a Class 2A GSHL title. Leading Hockinson for most of the night, the Hawks scored a touchdown and a 2-point conversion in the final seconds for a one-point victory.

“That game really hurt. We definitely will come back with some fire,” Jamison said. “It made us rethink what we needed to do. We’re going to work harder than last year. We’re smaller this year so we have to work a lot harder.”

After finishing second last season, the Columbia River Chieftains expect to battle for a Class 2A Greater St. Helens League title in 2017.

Swain said this is a “dangerous” year for River. He honestly believes the team is better this year than last year because it is the second season in his system. At the same time, the squad will have five new starting offensive lineman.

 

Julian Garcia has been putting in the work at QB, as well. No starter had been named as of earlier this week. Photo by Paul Valencia
Julian Garcia has been putting in the work at QB, as well. No starter had been named as of earlier this week. Photo by Paul Valencia

So, yes, Swain said he thinks this team should be in contention for a league title. But, he warned, it also could be a two-win team.

 

“We’ll have to see how fast these guys pick it up,” Swain said.

Defensively, though, the Chieftains will be “pretty special,” the coach said.

Jamison will lead the way, plus Austin Carter and Beau Braden are returning all-league defensive linemen. Nathan Kunz was an all-league defensive back.

Matthew Asplund is one of two quarterbacks still battling for the starting role as the team prepares for its first game. Photo by Paul Valencia
Matthew Asplund is one of two quarterbacks still battling for the starting role as the team prepares for its first game. Photo by Paul Valencia

On offense, Matthew Asplund and Julian Garcia are competing for the starting quarterback’s job. Going into August practice, there was no clear-cut favorite, the coach said.

Look for Jonah Leavitt, Peyton Harrell, and Elijah Hairston to lead the new offensive line.

Perhaps one of those guys will have a season like Jamison had last year: stepping up into a new role and crushing it.

“After sophomore year, I was surprised I’d be starting on defense,” Jamison said. “I just embraced it. I took it for what it was and did what needed to be done.”

He impressed his coach along the way.

“I’ve had a lot of kids who were special. He’s right up there,” Swain said. “He’s a college football player. Good leader. Works very hard. Very unselfish.”

Jamison is not exactly sure about college just yet. He expects to be a college athlete but is not sure of which sport. He also excels in baseball.

For now, though, he just wants to focus on this last football season with the Chieftains.

“We’re all one big happy family,” Jamison said. “That’s going to be what is part of our success, how close we are.”

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About The Author

Paul Valencia joins ClarkCountyToday.com after more than two decades of newspaper experience. He became the face of high school sports coverage in Clark County during his 17 years at The Columbian. Before moving to Vancouver, Paul worked at Oregon daily newspapers in Pendleton, Roseburg, and Salem. A graduate of David Douglas High School in Portland, Paul enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving three years as a soldier/journalist. He and his wife Jenny recently celebrated their 20th anniversary. They have a son who has a passion for karate and Minecraft. Paul’s hobbies include: Watching the Raiders play football, reading about the Raiders playing football, and waiting to watch and read about the Raiders playing football.

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