By Jeremy McDonald
TURNER, Ore.– As the football season kicked off Monday morning at 8am in Turner, the Cascade Cougars were wrapping up their first practice of the 2017 season a few hours later under a partly cloudy day as they look for their third Oregon West Conference Title in four years.
It was as sharp as it could be for the first day, thanks in part to camp the week before that helped shake off the jitters of this first ‘offical’ week of the season.
“I thought it was good, I mean for the most part, we were pretty good, we were dialed in on our plays, I thought we were really clean with that aspect of it,” said Head Coach Brandon Bennett. “I think it helped the boys being at camp last week, getting a bunch of those mental hurdles jumped over and now moving into camp when you put your helmet on and start to put on the pads and fur starts flying a little bit more, I think we’re on the right path. We’re getting ready.”
And though they had practice again a few hours later, the Boys of Fall know that it’s just another opportunity to get better with their intrasquad scrimmage this Friday night at home.
The first time the team will get some game-like action in a game-like environment for the first time this season as they look to the younger guys step up this season to fill the holes left by the seniors this past season.
“Just getting the little things down, it’s a lot of mental stuff so as long as we get that down we’ll be set,” said Elijah Nolan. “Just have some of the younger guys step up and be the person that we need because we don’t have a lot of depth, but with those younger people stepping up, we’ll be fine.”
For some of the incoming freshman and some of the younger guys, you could tell that their minds were swimming on the first practice of the season.
“It’s a big step from Junior High, making new buddies is really fun, just hanging out. Getting to know new coaches and just the enviornment is really fun. I love it,” said incoming freshman David Kanoff, the younger brother of 2017 Cougar-graduate and soccer and track star Elisa Kanoff. “There’s a lot going on, it’s hard to process a lot of the new information. Yeah taking it day-by-day.”
Bennett saw the struggles during the first day for the young guys, but knew that they did a good job the first practice out of the gate.
“For the most part I think they did alright, the biggest thing was there were swimming mentally so I think there effort was good but they slowed down and they weren’t going as hard or as fast and I think that comes with the fact that your swimming mentally,” Bennett said. “So getting ready for that is …being mentally prepared will make them move a bit quicker. For the most part, not bad for the young guys.”
And for the upperclassman, it’s to lead while the younger guys watch and learn.
“Being that person they go to and ask questions is really important, so as long as we do that I think that’ll be good for everybody,” said Nolan on the leadership of the upperclassmen.
“Just going to all their games and watching how they play and you put that into our game, that’ll help us out and then, just making friends with them helps out. Just getting along with them,” adds Kanoff.
With Friday giving them a great opportunity to build and gel as a team, it is also just one of two chances to work those younger guys into new roles and get them up up to speed and par before the season kicks off September 1 at Marshfield before hey travel to Sisters on the eighth and host the defending 4A State Champions in North Bend for the home regular season opener on September 15.
“With the Black and Gold, it’s a great event. Families come out and we probably get a 1,000 people out here just to come out and watch, it’s our team scrimmage,” said Bennett. “It’s a great way to get kids going full speed and having some live tackling on that Friday.
“And then the jamboree, having Banks, Dallas and Estacada here is huge. Great competition, I think two semi-final teams last year, so I think that prepares us going into the season, along with our preseason is three returning playoff teams from I think the last two or three-years. So it’s good, it gets our boys ready for league.”
Photos By Jeremy McDonald