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Did Stephen Nesmith inherit a surprise 4A contender in Parkrose? ‘We’re going to shock a lot of people!’

Here’s our look at the Parkrose Broncos of the Class 4A Tri-Valley Conference.

By Mitchell Forde | Photo by Taylor Balkom 

SBLive Oregon will break down every 6A, 5A and 4A team in the state leading up to the 2022 football season. Here’s our look at the Parkrose Broncos of the Class 4A Tri-Valley Conference. 



Stephen Nesmith, first season


2021 (fall): 1-9 overall, 1-6 in 5A NWOC East

2021 (spring): 2-4 overall, 0-1 in 5A NWOC East

2019: 7-3 overall, 4-1 in 5A NWOC East (lost in quarterfinals)

2018: 5-5 overall, 3-3 in 5A NWOC East (lost in first round)


Trevian Oliver, honorable mention OL

Marselis Royster, honorable mention LB

Kevin Interian, honorable mention LB


Kenji Johnson, QB/DB, junior

Johnson is back as the quarterback. He started as a sophomore, and although the offense largely struggled, averaging just over eight points per game, Nesmith believes Johnson will be better for the experience. Johnson should be helped by the fact that he’s surrounded by some playmakers at the skill positions.

Deshawn Wright, WR/DB, senior

One of those playmakers is Wright. He missed most of last fall’s season due to injury, but he’ll be back at wide receiver for his senior season. He’s also part of a deep defensive backfield for the Broncos. 

Junior Bradford, WR/DB, sophomore

Bradford, too, will be in the mix at receiver and defensive back. He got some playing time as a freshman last season. Nesmith described him as “one of our more dynamic playmakers.”

Jelani Scott, WR/DB, junior

Add Scott to the list of athletes Nesmith believes bring big-play potential to the offense. Scott was one of the team’s most productive pass-catchers as a sophomore. “He was a playmaker for Parkrose last year; he’s definitely going to help us out offensively,” Nesmith said.

Deshawn Huffman, WR/DB, junior

As if the Broncos needed another playmaker on the outside, they added Huffman during the offseason. He moved from California, and Nesmith said he made a strong impression during summer workouts. “This kid is a recent transfer, just transferred in during the offseason, but he’s been electric every day that he’s been with us,” Nesmith said. 

Phillip Napaa, OL/DL, junior

The player they call “Big Mac” should be a force on the offensive and defensive lines. Napaa has played varsity snaps during each of his first two high school seasons and will start at left tackle this fall. He’ll man a defensive tackle spot on the other side of the ball.

Andre Scott, OL/DL, senior

Scott is the other returning starter on the line. The senior is slated to play center and be part of the regular rotation at defensive tackle, which Nesmith believes will be a position of strength.

Steven Millard, OL/DL, junior

The Broncos added another player who will contribute up front in Millard, a transfer from Jefferson. Like Napaa and Scott, Millard will start on the offensive line and play a regular role at defensive tackle.

“All three of those guys are varsity guys — they’ve been playing since their freshman years, so those three guys are going to take us where we want to go,” Nesmith said.

Joe Iongi, TE/DE, senior

Nesmith is excited about the defense, and when asked why, the first name out of his mouth was Joe Iongi. The senior will start at defensive end, and Nesmith predicts he’ll be an all-league player by the end of the season. He also played tight end last season.

Tauveli Iongi, RB/LB, junior

The younger brother of Joe Iongi, Tauveli is expected to take on a leadership role on the defense, too. Tauveli will man the middle of the defense as the Broncos’ middle linebacker. He could also handle some carries as a running back. 

“Tauveli and Joe, the brothers, they’re going to lead our defense,” Nesmith said.


After a trying 2021 fall season during which Parkrose went 1-9 with its only victory coming via forfeit, it has been a year of transition for the Broncos. The school hired Nesmith, most recently the offensive coordinator for Bishop Canevin in Pittsburgh, to replace Brian Jackson. The football program also moved down a level, from Class 5A to 4A.

Nesmith, who helped engineer a successful turnaround at his previous job, said that amid all the change, he’s keeping the goals for his team simple.

“The expectations for this season is for the kids to be good young men,” Nesmith said. “That’s my expectation for them this year. And our expectation is to start off the season 1-0. That’s as far as my expectations go for this group, is for them to be good young men and for us to be 1-0. I feel like if we do those things, it will set us up to have a really good season.” 

Don’t take that to mean Nesmith doesn’t believe his team can compete on the field. It might be surprising considering the Broncos’ struggles last season, but Nesmith feels he has some legitimate talent on his roster. The key to unlocking it, he said, will be establishing a winning culture.

“The biggest challenge is shifting the culture, changing the culture to be what you want it to be as far as creating a winning team and a winning environment,” Nesmith explained. “So, that was the biggest challenge so far, is getting these kids to tap into winning habits and winning ways. …

“Just the way they go about weightlifting, for instance. These kids couldn’t even lift weights when I got here. These kids couldn’t get into a stance when I got here.”

While the roster isn’t loaded with seniors, most of the returners have gotten a taste of varsity football. That’s true for Johnson, the junior who is expected to start at quarterback again this season.

Nesmith plans to install a spread offense with Johnson at the helm. While he said that process typically takes some time, it could be sped up by the talent around Johnson. Nesmith gushed about the playmaking ability of Parkrose’s receiving corps. He believes the Broncos can interchange at least four players at the position without much of a drop.

The passing game also will be helped by a stout offensive line. Nesmith said the five starters there average nearly 300 pounds. 

While the offense might take some time to jell, Nesmith expects the defense to be the strength of the team.

“I feel like early on, we will be hanging our hat on our defense,” he said. “And our defense is nasty.”

Napaa, Scott and Millard will rotate at nose tackle, while Joe Iongi and senior Mathias Shea will serve as disruptors from the defensive end spots. Add in Tauveli Iongi at middle linebacker, and Nesmith believes opponents will have a hard time finding running room against the Broncos’ front seven.

That’s all part of the plan, because Nesmith might actually be more bullish on his team’s secondary. The starters haven’t been determined, but all of the playmakers he listed at receiver also will be in the mix for playing time at defensive back. Nesmith believes he can go two or three deep at every position on the back end.

“Philosophy is going to be make them throw, and hit everything that moves,” Nesmith said. “That’s our defensive philosophy — hit everything that moves. We are going to load the box up and make teams throw the ball, and then when you do throw the ball, you’re going to fall into my trap. That’s what I really want you to do, because my athletes are better than your athletes, in my opinion.” 

Nesmith understands there likely will be growing pains during his debut season. Really, the rebuilding process will take multiple years. Before his arrival, Nesmith said, Parkrose didn’t have any sort of middle school program. The school doesn’t have enough players to field a junior varsity team this fall, although with about 40 available for varsity games, Nesmith doesn’t anticipate running out of bodies.

But Nesmith’s optimism about his team is obvious — and it’s not just coachspeak. He’s genuinely excited about the talent he inherited, and he thinks the Broncos are poised to surprise some teams.

“Averaging 300 pounds on your line across the board is not normal,” Nesmith said. “Having layers deep of wide receivers is not normal. … If you put in your third-string corner, nine times out of 10, you’re really worried. I can put my third-string corner in and be confident right now.

“So, it’s like, we’re deep, we have depth in the right positions, and I just think we’re going to shock a lot of people.” 


“I believe that we have a group of kids that nobody is going to see coming. They’re going to see Parkrose on their schedule and they’re going to think, ‘Oh, that team was 1-9 last year, they don’t have any talent, and we’re going to win this game,’ and they’re going to mark it off as one of those paper wins. … And then we’re going to show up on Friday night and we’re going to surprise a lot of people.” — Stephen Nesmith