By Jeremy McDonald
GERVAIS, Ore.– The Gervais Football team enters the 2018 season with depth, but only two seniors in four-year Varsity player in Alejandro Contreras and the return of Angel Moreno after not playing in 2017.
For the two seniors, it’s up to them to help set the pace and lead the team as they enter the 2A level after spending last season at 3A.
“Lead by example, if I’m going hard, I’m expecting everyone too and these guys, they’ll work hard for the whole entire season,” said Contreras on him and Moreno to help out the team as Contreras took snaps at center Tuesday afternoon with the haze all around them.
With them bringing back the yellow helmets from that faithful first season under Josh Crawford, the fourth-year coach is hoping that this season with those particular helmets aren’t indicative to that first season with them in 2015 as about 24 athletes were out at practice Tuesday afternoon on the grassy field in between their game field and the middle school.
“I’m super excited,” said Crawford on the turnout. “We’re super young, but a lot of numbers and a lot of skill guys that didn’t play last year or didn’t get a lot of playing time last year due to older people in their position, so the numbers are good for us so far.”
With the youth, brings a lot of teachable moments and opportunities for Crawford and his coaching staff to help bring the kids up to par. Walking through tackling and knowing what’s happening if and when a player points at you if you’re a lineman or linebacker. Working on reacting to the play.
With the extra bodies out, Gervais was able to field a scout offensive line against their defense and were able to give them a realistic look as the jamboree comes around next week that has some tough 3A squads with Taft, Santiam Christian and Salem Academy on August 24 at 5pm at Santiam Christian.
The look at a 3A teams will remind some of the returners of what it’s like to face tough competition while will give the new faces and the inexperienced players an opportunity to pick up valuable experience before the season starts up on August 31 at home versus Portland Christian.
“We can use it because we have faced tougher teams and not saying 2A isn’t more tougher…the 3A schools they have more players and I think 2A will still bring enough competition, but we’ll have the experience against tough competition,” said Contreras on facing the 3A schools.
“(It’s) really crucial, the jamboree’s going to be Taft, Salem Academy and Santiam Christian, so three good teams,” starts Crawford. “So it’s going to be good looks.”
And with practice rolling on, the practices are trickling down as they have seven more entering Wednesday’s to go after before they get to the jamboree and then preparing for Week 1 after that as the young Cougar team looks ahead for the season to come.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald