In his two seasons as Oregon City's football coach, Shane Hedrick believed he had the Pioneers on the right track.
Last season, the team not only improved from 2-8 to 5-6, but had closed the gap substantially against the powers in the rugged 6A Three Rivers League.
But for Hedrick, 58, the daily 112-mile round-trip commute from his home in Independence was wearing him down. So when presented with an opportunity to coach at 4A Cascade, he was intrigued.
This week, Hedrick resigned as Oregon City's coach and accepted the position at Cascade. The 27-minute drive from his home to the Turner school is a “walk in the park,” according to Hedrick.
“Being able to be closer to home was a no-brainer,” he said. “My time at Oregon City was amazing. We were able to change the culture around. I loved every minute of it.
“Just that 2 ½ hours every day in a car, you want to think you're a tough guy, but man, it beats you down after a while. I really believe I've got about eight to 10 years of really good coaching left, and I'd like to do it outside of my car, if I could.”
Cascade will be the fifth head-coaching stop for Hedrick. He has compiled a 164-116 record at South Albany (1994-97), Central (1999-2002, 2004-18), Willamina (2019-20) and Oregon City (2021-22). He led Central, his alma mater, to five semifinal appearances.
Cascade played last season under interim coach Tyler Turner after Brandon Bennett resigned in late spring. The school turned its focus to finding a permanent replacement after Turner coached the team to a 4-6 record last season.
Hedrick, well acquainted with coaches in the Willamette Valley from his years as the coach and athletic director at Central, had breakfast with Cascade athletic director James Rise in late December to discuss possible options for the Cougars.
“He was sharing with me what his vision was,” Hedrick said. “As I got in the car every morning and drove to Oregon City, before I shared my coaching carousel with him, I threw my name out there.”
Cascade offered Hedrick the position Feb. 1. He resigned from Oregon City on Wednesday and formally accepted the Cascade position Friday.
“We went through a full process and brought a handful of folks in,” Rise said. “He obviously jumped off the page for us in terms of experience and knowledge of Cascade. He played against Cascade and coached against Cascade, so his familiarity with us played a role in that. He was a guy we wanted to target and really go after. His core values fit what we want to be about.”
During Hedrick's time at Central, he had developed a relationship with Rise, who was the athletic director at Silverton. Hedrick also knows Cascade superintendent Darin Drill, whose father, Gary, was a vice principal at Central.
Hedrick said that Drill had reached out to him after Bennett stepped down, but he stayed at Oregon City to honor his commitment to athletic director Andy Jones. Last year, Jones left Oregon City to take the same position at Silverton.
“Who hires you supports you. It's their deal,” Hedrick said. “That's important. You have to have somebody with your back.”
Hedrick's comfort level with the Cascade administration was a key factor in his decision.
“Having a visionary administration, a supportive administration, is really important in my life right now,” Hedrick said. “There's just a connection there that makes the whole thing feel good.”
Hedrick said he spoke with Turner and offered him a position on the staff. Rise said that he is hopeful that Turner will remain in the program.
“It wasn't so much a parting of the ways,” Rise said. “He cares a ton about Cascade.”
Cascade finished 10-1 and reached the 4A quarterfinals in 2021 before slipping last season. Hedrick is eager to be a part of the program.
“It's got an amazing tradition,” he said. “It's kind of the best-kept secret. I know more alumni from Cascade than any other school.”
Hedrick is familiar with the territory in 4A from his years at Central.
“There's a lot of familiar faces,” he said. “It'll be a kick in the pants to go up to the Nike clinic next month wearing a Cascade badge and seeing everyone again.”
Oregon City was Hedrick's first coaching job in the big-school division. He said coaching the Pioneers was “one of the greatest experiences” he has had in coaching.
“When I was going in, I said it was a gold mine, and I still say it's a gold mine,” he said. “There are some really talented, blue-collar working football players there. If there's a young, up-and-coming coach, I'd say, 'Get after that thing.'”
Oregon City closed the gap in the Three Rivers last season. After being outscored by an average of 29.4 points per game in league in 2021, the Pioneers cut that number to 15.6 in 2022. They lost to Lakeridge 35-14 in the second round of the Columbia Cup.
“I was always telling the kids and the community, we were right there hovering at 211 degrees, you know 212 makes steam,” Hedrick said. “With a little bit more time, you're going to see those scores get a little bit tighter, and then they're going to go the other way for Oregon City.”
Hedrick's son, Grant, assisted him at Oregon City. He said that Grant's future is undecided.
“Make no mistake about it, I'm going to put everything I can on a silver platter to bring him with him,” Hedrick said of Grant, who teaches at Oregon City and lives in Monmouth.