Charlie Hall coached Southern Oregon to the NAIA national semifinals in his first season in 2017. (Photo courtesy SOU)
Charlie Hall coached Southern Oregon to the NAIA national semifinals in his first season in 2017. (Photo courtesy SOU)

After six seasons as the head coach at Southern Oregon University, Charlie Hall is returning to Oregon high school football.

Hall, who went 91-41 in 12 seasons at Ashland (2005-16), has been hired as the coach at Phoenix. He takes over a team that has lost 24 consecutive games, going 0-17 in the last two seasons under coach Mike Robinson.

The school announced Hall, 62, as the Pirates' coach Thursday.

“I think I'm still young, and energetic, and have a lot to give,” Hall said. “I've been offered opportunities in college to leave the area, and I've been talked to by athletic directors and coaches in high schools outside the area, but at this point it's just not in my best interest as a family to leave.”

Hall compiled a 28-26 record at Southern Oregon. He went 11-1 and took the Raiders to the NAIA national semifinals in his first year in 2017, but the team struggled in recent seasons. Hall and the school parted ways after the team finished 3-7 in 2022.

Phoenix athletic director Dave Ehrhardt reached out to Hall.

“I made a phone call to him one day and said, 'Hey, we'd love to talk with you,'” Ehrhardt said. “And he was willing to listen. We believe there were other opportunities out there, and other people interested, but I think he's intrigued by our community.”

Hall said he is hopeful to reconnect Phoenix to its “storied history.” The team dropped from 4A to 3A last season after meeting OSAA criteria to move down.

“It just takes the right person,” Hall said. “Timing is everything. I hope the timing is right for the ship to get right, and for Phoenix to rise from the ashes.”

In 1983, Hall was a student-teacher at Phoenix during his senior year at Southern Oregon. Ehrhardt said that Hall understands Phoenix, which is recovering from a wildfire that ravaged the community in September of 2020.

“He knows our story, he knows where we've been with the challenges we've faced, all those things with the fire and pandemic,” Ehrhardt said. “He's got a heart for being a Pirate.”

Hall assisted at Kent-Meridian (Wash.) before serving as a graduate assistant at the University of Washington, launching a college coaching career. He also assisted at Idaho, New Mexico, North Texas and Northern Arizona.

Hall joined the Ashland staff in 1998 under coach Jim Nagel and called the plays for a team that went 14-0 and won the big-school state championship. He replaced Nagel as coach in 2005 and led the Grizzlies to four conference titles and nine playoff berths, including two semifinal appearances and a 5A runner-up finish in 2015. He was named the conference coach of the year four times.

Hall said that Phoenix-Talent superintendent Brent Barry was instrumental in wooing him to the school.

“He convinced me that they're changing,” Hall said. “They've got brand-new facilities, a brand-new building. They just need a football coach here to kind of put things together. It's a big challenge. They've fallen on lean times, for sure.”

Hall, who lives in Ashland, said he will have a 13-minute commute to the school. He will work on the campus as a teacher on special assignment.

“I can stay connected to the valley, use all of my resources that I've developed in my time at Ashland and Southern Oregon,” he said. “I'm pretty fired up. I'm just going to give it a shot.”

Ehrhardt said that Hall is a “perfect fit” for the situation.

“We know he's a magnet for kids,” Ehrhardt said. “He's going to work with kids on commitment. He's going to be in our building every day, so it's everything we're looking for. Then you add in 42 years of coaching experience, just the kind of person he is, everything is positive.”

Mannion steps away

John Mannion, who started the Mountainside program in 2018, has resigned after going 29-20 in five seasons.

Mannion, who turns 55 next month, said that health issues were a factor in his decision. He had a heart attack five years ago and had open-heart surgery in 2019. He said he will have a “minor procedure” on Tuesday.

“The health piece is a part of it,” Mannion said. “I love coaching. I'm at the point in my life where I felt like I needed to step back and look forward a little bit. A lot of that is family-related and health-related.”

Mannion, a longtime coach in California, took over as Silverton's coach in 2010 when his son, Sean, began his college career as a quarterback at Oregon State. He went 57-20 in seven seasons at Silverton, guiding the Foxes to a 5A runner-up finish in 2014.

He went 3-6 in his first season at Mountainside in 2018 and led the Mavericks to an 8-4 record and their first playoff appearance in 2019, reaching the 6A quarterfinals by stunning top-seeded Tigard 34-31 in overtime in the second round. Mountainside finished 9-2 last season, losing at Tualatin 53-21 in the quarterfinals.

“When I came here it was the idea of getting a chance to start something from the ground up,” Mannion said. “It's really been a rewarding experience. I'm super proud of what we've been able to accomplish at Mountainside, in establishing an identity and a culture in the program, and the school itself.”

Mannion has been coaching high school football since 1988. He will continue teaching and is open to coaching again someday.

“It's been a long haul,” he said. “I have grandchildren now, and it just seemed like a good time to get a chance to catch my breath. I'd love to be involved in football somehow. As a younger coach, I was fortunate to have some mentors. I'd love to be a resource for others. Maybe there's some role there.”

His son Brian, Mountainside's quarterback from 2019 to 2021, is playing football and baseball at Linfield. Sean spent last season on the practice squad with the Seattle Seahawks.

Sommer resigns at Gladstone

Cam Sommer has stepped down as the coach at Gladstone, where he went 5-5 and 6-4 in the last two seasons.

He said he wants to spend more time with his wife, Erin, as they prepare to start a family. He wants to have the flexibility to travel more, in particular to his in-laws in California.

“It was a rough decision for me,” said Sommer, who played at Gladstone. “I love the kids, love the community. But I just kind of needed to do it for myself.”

Sommer, who assisted at Milwaukie (2017) and Grant (2018-19), joined the Gladstone staff as the offensive coordinator in 2020. He became a first-time head coach the following year after the resignation of JJ Jedrykowski.

The Gladiators lost in the first round of the 4A playoffs in 2021. Last season, No. 14 seed Gladstone posted one of the biggest upset of the playoffs when it knocked off No. 3 Marist Catholic 21-20 in the first round.

“The biggest thing is we wanted to lay the foundation, especially post-COVID, getting the kids back together and building a team atmosphere, and a foundation that's going to carry into the future,” he said. “I definitely feel like things are positive and heading in the right direction for the program.”

Sommer said he has endorsed his father, Doug, as his successor. Doug, the defensive coordinator on Gladstone's 2014 state title team, has head-coaching experience at Milwaukie (2001-05) and Wilsonville (2006-09). He rejoined the Gladstone staff as the defensive coordinator last year.

Cam Sommer said he is likely to coach again, especially in a supporting role for his father.

“If my dad gets the job this year, I'll still spend some time away,” he said. “But just because of what my dad means to me and how much the school and kids mean to me, it would be pretty tough to stay away forever.

“I've had a couple of 6A schools reach out for possible jobs, but I'm definitely going to take at least a year or two and just see if I miss it, and spend some time at home and see what that looks like.”