Head Coach: Jon Helmandollar
Years as Head Coach: 1st Season
Previous Experience: 1 Year Head Coach at Hillsboro (OR)
1 Year Head Coach at Springfield (OR)
2 Years Head Coach at Toledo (OR)
3 Years Head Coach at Wendell
1 Year Assistant at Rocky Mountain
Record Last Year: 4-5
State Titles: None
Cade Flint, OL/DL, 12
Jacob Thompson, OL/DL, 12
Andrew Rodriguez, OL/DL, 12
Bailey Bringman, OL/DL, 12
Michael Cox, DL/LB, 12
Allamar Alexander, RB/LB, 12
Kekana Fouret, RB/LB, 12
Jacob Rowan, RB/LB, 12
Dillon Kellar, TE/LB, 12
Christopher Cardenalli, WR/DB, 12
Jeremiah Brent, WR/DB, 11
Dalles Christensen, WR/DB, 11
Returning Players with Honors:
Allamar Alexander, 1st Team 5A SIC RB
Jacob Thompson, Honorable Mention 5A SIC OL
Michael Cox, Honorable Mention 5A SIC DL
Key Players lost from last year:
Michael Davis, TE
"Michael had the ability to block and catch passes from the H-back/tight end position. One of the hardest positions to fill is the H-back/tight end position because the position requires so many different skills. He will be really missed and hard to replace," Coach Helmandollar.
Derek Scott, LB
"Led the team in tackles and sacks. Undersized at linebacker, but was smart and could make plays," Coach Helmandollar.
Tony Fifita, DL
"High-motor player with a relentless energy to find the ball. Tony was also undersized up front at nose, but demanded double teams because of his toughness and quickness off of the ball," Coach Helmandollar.
Photo By: Chris Melgaard - #34 Allamar Alexander
Incoming impact players:
Austin Collett, QB/DB, 11
Jayden Parker, WR/DB, 11
Written By: Sven Alskog
Over the course of the last few seasons the Columbia football program grew increasingly competitive in the 5A ranks under head coach Rich Davis. As the Wildcats enter 2018, a couple things have changed, including former Boise State running back Jon Helmandollar taking over on the sideline and the school dropping down to the 4A classification.
For a program that has not made a playoff appearance since 2011, the move to the 4A ranks should create a clearer path towards changing the narrative this time around, especially when considering the return of First Team 5A All-SIC running back Allamar Alexander.
Alexander is an explosive playmaker out of the backfield who ran for 1,422 yards and 14 touchdowns a season ago. His 230 carries also led the SIC.
Seniors Cade Flint, Jacob Thompson, Andrew Rodriguez and Bailey Bringman anchor a physical offensive line that should open holes for Alexander and give junior quarterback Austin Collett time to throw to a receiving core with good potential.
“We are going to be very physical and athletic on the offensive side of the ball. We will be a run-first team, and use the play action pass to set up explosive plays. We have one of the most talented running backs in the state returning in Allamar Alexander to go along with a physical group up front and some athletes on the edge at wide receiver. We base our offense out of a pistol spread formation. We will vary the tempo on offense to keep the defense off balance,” said Helmandollar.
There are multiple areas the new coach is focusing on to get better.
“We hope to improve in the areas of controlling the football more by not turning it over and creating more explosive plays through the air.”
Christopher Cardenalli, Jeremiah Brent, Jayden Parker and Dalles Christensen from the receiver position and Dillon Kellar at the tight end spot lead the group that will have a big say on if the Wildcats are able to generate more big plays this season.
Following the loss of do-everything tight end Michael Davis, who had 38 catches for 453 yards and three touchdowns last year, Columbia will need multiple guys to step up to fill the void.
While there were some instances where this was not the case, for the most part the defense performed well in 2017, something the unit hopes to continue moving forward.
“On defense we are going to be very physical up front as well and our secondary will be fast and athletic. Michael Cox returns at defensive end/outside linebacker and he has a great motor with a knack for making big plays on defense. Our focus on defense is for each player to execute their assignment every single down so we can be successful as both a defensive unit and team. We want 11 players flying around and getting to the football, which in turn will create turnovers,” added Helmandollar.
A focus area is limiting the big plays of the opposition and making teams earn every single yard they get.
If previous success at Wendell tells us anything, it’s that Helmandollar is the right guy to get Columbia back into the playoffs. In a wide-open 4A this season, that may happen sooner than many people would expect.
“I am very excited as we continue to progress and get better as a team. It has been a great summer and our core group of players have worked extremely hard for the opportunity to succeed on Friday nights,” said Helmandollar.
The Wildcats start the season at home against Emmett before a road matchup at Caldwell in week two.