COQUILLE — There are some very new faces at Coquille's football practices this fall.
A handful of players from Pacific have joined the Red Devils as part of a new cooperative agreement between the two schools.
Before last year, Pacific had a co-op agreement with Bandon. But when the Tigers dropped down to Class 2A, they no longer were able to have the players from Pacific because the combined enrollment of the two schools would have forced them to play football at the Class 3A level.
The same held true for Gold Beach, Pacific's neighbor to the south, meaning Coquille was the closest opportunity for the Pacific students.
“It's very special,” Coquille coach David Thomason said of the agreement.
One of the players from Pacific, junior Damian Austin, played for Bandon as a freshman. Three of the other four are freshmen this year and played eighth-grade football for Harbor Lights in Bandon.
Austin said last fall was disappointing after playing as a freshman.
"It was frustrating not being able to play football," he said. "It's my favorite sport."
Now he's back on the field, trying to help a new team be successful.
"I like it," he said. "We have a lot of potential."
Thomason isn't sure yet if any of the Pacific players will make the varsity squad, but they will add depth to the junior varsity group and ideally fill gaps created by a small freshman class of Red Devils.
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Two of the new players are physically impressive, brothers John and Colton Morrill-Keeler. John, a sophomore, is 6-7. His younger brother is 6-4.
Austin said any concerns that the players might not be welcomed to the team went away quickly.
"These guys are really nice," he said. "They accepted all of us Pacific kids."
The Coquille veterans said it was easy to adjust.
“I think they all fit in really well,” Coquille senior Joe Scolari said.
“They go hard,” added fellow senior Chandler Fisher.
To get to Coquille in time for practice, Pacific worked out a deal that the players will get a physical education credit and will not have to attend class the final hour at their school between Port Orford and Langlois.
“That will make sure they are here on time,” Thomason said.
He's excited about working with the new players and building a relationship with Pacific.
“The parents are very supportive,” Thomason said. “It's really neat.”