By Jeremy McDonald
EUGENE, Ore.– West Salem knew a few things about facing adversity entering Monday’s game versus Sheldon.
It took three-times of focusing up for a game that was pushed from Friday-to-Saturday-then to Monday evening. But hey, who doesn’t like Monday Night Football right?
Entering the second quarter, the Titans held a Irish team that has some nationally-ranked athletes on their roster like 4-star quarterback Michael Johnson Jr to a 7-0 lead.
And though Sheldon built a 20-0 halftime lead in their 41-7 win Monday night, most of those scores came from long plays while the West Salem defense showcased some of their talent in making plays in terms of tackles for losses and forced Johnson Jr to get out of his comfort zone in holding the Irish to their lowest point total of the season.
“I believe that we did better than other teams did. We had a lot of tackles for loss, a lot of tackles on (Johnson Jr). We made him force the shorter runs, run out of bounds,” said Christian Janes on slowing Johnson Jr and company down. “I think we did fairly well on defense, but still there’s things to improve on.”
The defense forced two turnovers in the second half and almost added a second-half safety to that resume in Monday’s game.
Offensively however, the Titans with Grant Thies at quarterback, had their chances to capitalize in the first half with two promising drives that went deep into Sheldon territory, but were stopped by a interception and a fumble that kept West Salem off the board entering the third quarter.
Something that’s fixable through looking back at the film and seeing how they can improve between Tuesday and Friday’s game versus Forest Grove.
“I just think, you just go back and look at the situation from the game that you didn’t execute in and you just need to go back in and put those kids in those situations in practice,” said Stanley. “We re-practice third and long and what we can and can’t give up in practice, third and long in field goal range. Our quarterback is a great kid, smart kid, he didn’t execute that situation that’s back on me because it’s my job to get him ready.
“You just have to analyze the film and put them in spots and situations where we didn’t execute and, as coaches, think, ‘well, I thought we had that understood, but obviously we didn’t’ and at that point that’s back on the coaches and we just rep it and get better.”213
Ryan Baxter scored the lone Titan touchdown when he bounced outside on the left side of the formation near the West Salem sideline for seven-yards in the fourth quarter of the game.
What’s going to be the challenge this week, is how the Titans can go from a drag-out fight with Sheldon back to a league game barely four nights later against the Vikings at home on the black turf?
And Stanley pointed out to his team in their team huddle that Forest Grove will know of the situation both teams are walking into in West Salem Friday night, and that will start with their film session and practice Tuesday.
“We just got to take advantage of practice, have a great short week of practice coming up and have no bad reps ever,” said Janes. “Just continue to get better and better everyday.”
Stanley said of the adversity as a life lesson, that not everything goes according to play and that you, like in life outside of sports, have to adjust on the run.
“This game is about life lessons, and in life not everything goes to script. As a parent, your kids have their own plans a lot of the times. I want these guys to be great fathers, great husbands,” starts Stanley.
“And part of that is being a person that’s able to deal with adversity with changes in the schedule and again, not everything goes as scripted or what you wanted to do and sometimes, you have to meet the challenge when your not given a lot of rest or a break and that’s just the reality.”
Photos By Jeremy McDonald