By Jeremy McDonald
WEST SALEM, Ore.– Typically it’s the offense that does the talking for the West Salem High School Football Team during the 2015 season.
But for tonight, it was the defense that eventually helped spark the offense in the Titans 32-0 victory Friday night over Franklin to advance to the second round of the OSAA 6A Playoffs.
“I’m really proud, especially from earlier in the year,” said Cornerback Trey Lindekugel. “I feel like all the injuries and everything I was really proud how everyone stepped up and did their jobs as a defense as a whole. We came together and played defense as a whole.”
Through their success’ Friday night, you wouldn’t have known that West Salem started five sophomores, the most that Head Coach Shawn Stanley can remember as coach of the Titans.
But he was impressed of how his team has answered to the Call of Duty.
“They kept on doing it over and over again,” he said. “They’ve done it all year. I didn’t know what we would get tonight but every time I’m wondering how they are going to react to a playoff atmosphere or react adversity, they ring the bell. It’s one of my favorite teams ever just for that reason.”
West Salem struck first with a Kyle Terry five-yard strike following a three-and-out to start the game.
The decision to go for two made it 8-0 early.
“You might need those two points,” said Titans head coach Shawn Stanley. “If your confident in it, it kind of forces the other team to show their hand .
“We didn’t know we were going to score 32 points, we didn’t know how tight the game was going to be, so let’s get two here and it feels like any other play for us, it’s no gimmick. We practice it and we believe it.”
But what followed broke this one wide open.
The next Quaker drive resulted in an interception by Trey Lindekugel, the Titans scored off a fly sweep by Chase Lankin.
Franklin drove down the field before Justin Morales picked off Quakers Max Hawkins as Brody Wittman hit Hunter Johnson from 18-yards.
A interception by Isaiah Pineda ended as a field goal as West Salem went into the half up 25-0.
“Our defense did a great job,” said Johnson. “We got the ball on our half of the game so all we had to do was to go 40-yards, 30-yards. So they did a great job, we did a great job getting it in our end zone.”
After trading three-and-outs would score their final touchdown of the game behind a 4th and Goal, one-yard rush by Terry, his second of the game with 7:15 left in the third frame.
With how much the defense was out following their motto of a “No Fly Zone” as they picked up a fourth interception on the day in the third quarter, it raised the question if the offense was getting tired?
“No I didn’t,” laughed Wittman. “I was excited the whole game because our defense was making so many turnovers and got our offense on the field. We could’ve executed a little bit better on something’s but it was great.”
As back-ups filtered in for West Salem, the Titans continued their dominance on the game, as they turn their sights to their next opponents, who happen to be West Linn.
The Tigers defeated Roosevelt Friday night 41-6. More details on the start time, but it will be at West Linn High School on November 13.
Jeremy McDonald is a professional sports journalist in the Salem/Portland area and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalist in Oregon with B.S. degrees from Southern Oregon University in Journalism (2011) and Health/PE (2013). Got a story idea? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @J_McDonald81!
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