It was an inauspicious start for Patrick Pileggi in his first year as a head football coach.
His starting senior quarterback, Payton Davis, broke his collarbone during a preseason jamboree.
But Pileggi is working through the adversity as he tries to turn around a Ridgeview Ravens program that was 1-8 each of the last two seasons.
Ridgeview is 0-2 to open this season, as sophomore Bryce Demars has taken over as the starting quarterback until Davis can return, but Pileggi says he likes what he sees from the young Ravens team thus far.
“It’s a new offense for everybody, and a lot of sophomores playing this year for us,” Pileggi says. “A lot of growing pains, but we’re learning and getting better. Just getting them to play as a team, believe in each other, have everybody’s back when you need to, that’s something that we preach. It’s something we’re starting to see more and more every day, which is awesome.”
Pileggi, 36, coached for about 15 years in the Salem area, most recently serving as an assistant at Sprague for the past six years. He played offensive and defensive line at Regis High School in Stayton and went on to play at Western Oregon University.
He says getting accustomed to the lower numbers of players, moving from 6A to 5A, has taken some adjustment. Ridgeview has fewer than 60 players in the program, while at Sprague, Pileggi says, the team included 140 to 150 players some years during his time there.
“We’re running a little under 60, which is kind of scary,” Pileggi says. “But the kids that are out here are the ones that we want, and they’re busting their butt and doing everything right, so … it’s been good.”
Pileggi’s in-laws have lived at Eagle Crest Resort in Redmond for the past 10 years, so he and his wife have long had Central Oregon in mind as a place to coach if ever an opportunity presented itself. His brother-in-law also lives in Central Oregon.
“We’ve been over here quite a bit over the years, and it’s always fun,” he says.
Pileggi, who also teaches PE at Ridgeview, says he will focus on the line play as he looks to get Ridgeview back on track. He declines to note goals in terms of wins, but rather claims he is focused on changing the culture of Ridgeview football and getting his players to expect to win.
The Ravens had five turnovers in a 34-20 loss to South Eugene last Friday, a game that Pileggi said he and his players felt they should have won. The Ravens play at Ashland Friday night.
“They’ve had some rough seasons the last few, and they’ve got to expect to win every time they step on the field,” Pileggi says of his players. “I’m seeing it start to turn a little bit. After this last game the kids were upset. They felt we should have won that game, and we should have. That’s good to see, that they’re starting to expect that.”
Pileggi says it has been a smooth transition for him, because his players have been buying into his beliefs and the culture of hard work he wants to establish.
“Things have slowly been changing,” he says. “We haven’t seen it on the field yet as far as wins, but we’ve been competitive in both our games and had a chance to win both of them if we didn’t turn the ball over like we have.”
— Reporter: 541-383-0318,