Coming off two of the most successful seasons in school history, Newberg football will adapt to a new coach this season.
Jeremy Johnson, Lincoln's head coach for the past three seasons, has been hired to replace Kevin Hastin, who left to take the job at Sherwood. Johnson went 13-12 in his tenure with the Cardinals, including 5-1 last season.
“The opportunity at Newberg checks so many boxes on our family list,” said Johnson, who has three children. “We want to invest in just being part of such a strong-rooted community We want to invest in families and kids.
“The difference between Newberg and Lincoln, it's a different amount of space. We're going to have a little more space for our family, a little more room to grow. We can get a little farther away from the city, even though the city 's been great for us.”
Johnson is tasked with building on the momentum the Tigers generated under Hastin, who went 2-7, 5-5, 8-3 and 5-1 in his four seasons. The Tigers' eight wins in 2019 was their most since 1960. Last season, they got a breakthrough win over Sherwood and finished first in the 6A Pacific Conference.
Johnson said the overall success of the athletic programs at Newberg was appealing.
“Their wrestling program is a phenomenal program,” Johnson said. “Their basketball program does a really great job. Their baseball program has continued success. The idea that I get to be in the building, working with a lot of other teacher-coaches, and trying to align to do the best for kids who play multiple sports, that's attractive.”
Johnson grew up in Spokane, where he played tight end and defensive line in high school at Shadle Park, and had a college career at Willamette University. He assisted at Pacific Grove High School (2007-13) in California and at Oregon City (2014-17) before taking over at Lincoln.
In his first season at Lincoln, the Cardinals shared the 6A Portland Interscholastic League title with Grant and Roosevelt. Last season, they rebounded from a season-opening loss to Jefferson to win their last five games.
Lincoln played its home games at Wells last season while its new school building is under construction. The school is scheduled to be completed next spring, but a new field and stadium may not be ready for use until the 2023 season.
“I think it can be overcome. I was ready to overcome it,” Johnson said.
Johnson said the Lincoln community is “phenomenal.”
“It's an awesome program,” he said. “They're in such a healthy place right now, in spite of not having a field, in spite of the challenges of the rebuild of the school. That's a program that's on the rise. I've loved and valued my experience at Lincoln. We're leaving that program in a better place.”
Lincoln had only five seniors on its roster last season. Johnson said the returning classes are loaded with talent, and the incoming freshman class is large and promising.
“It's an excellent opportunity there,” Johnson said. “But for our family, the Newberg appeal was real.”
Newberg has been successful in recent seasons running the wing-T offense. Johnson favors the fly offense, incorporating many of the concepts he picked up in college under former Willamette coach Mark Speckman.
Johnson will teach at Newberg, commuting from his home in Portland. He said he plans to relocate his family to Newberg at some point.