By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– At about the halfway mark of Thursday’s practice, the West Salem Football team did kind of a change of pace with their practice as they lined up in pairs of three’s with a ballcarrier on one side of the three-versus-three lineup.
It was Oklahoma Drill-esc in nature as they took turns, lineman-vs-lineman, linebackers-vs-linebackers and defensive backs-vs-defensive backs; it was a change of pace from the same grind of practice.
“It’s the first time we’re all strapping up pads really against each other, so it’s really fun,” said Simon Thompson
“That’s the funniest drill we’re going to do all year so I hope we can keep doing it at least once a week because it separates the boys from the men for sure putting on the pads for the first time,” adds Noah Juarez. “That’s going to separate us from all the other teams in this league because of our physicality. We already got the speed on the team, we just got to show how tough we are on both sides of the ball.”
The weapons and tools that the Titans have entering this season following their quarterfinals appearance in 2017 with names like Jamal McMurrin, Anthony Gould, Alex Hurlburt to go with names like Juarez and Thompson returning has certainly made West Salem another front-runner in a league with 5A powerhouse Summit moving up and Sprague and McNary still looming close by.
With the offense scoring 6A’s fourth-highest point total at a cool 524 points (43.7 points a game over there 10-2, 12 game season for the metrics people out there), Thompson is comfortable saying that they could come out swinging similarly in 2018 with him at quarterback.
“We just got to keep the ball rolling you know,” “We’re just reinstalling all the plays we did last year basically. The same concepts basically, so we’re just going to build upon that.
“Defensively last year I felt like we were arguably the best defense…I would say arguably the best defense in the State, but definitely in the GVC. We had a lot of shutouts. Offense we held our own, we scored a lot of points and obviously made a run at the playoffs.”
The defense was the best in the now, weird to say it, old-Greater Valley Conference with 163 points, 56 points better than the Olympians at 219 with shutouts against Sprague (35-0) and Franklin (70-0) with holding South Salem (3), McNary (6), West Albany and North Salem both to seven points to their resumes in 2018.
Entering 2018 is the same plans as then as West Salem enters the Special District 6 with Bend, the Celtics, the Saxons, the Olys, the Storm and Mountain View.
“I mean, I think we’re going to be one of those Top teams again one the defensive side,” said Hurlburt, who’s been practicing at Mike Linebacker so far. “Obviously our defense is great. We got guys coming back, we work harder than most teams out here so its going to be good.”
And with the jamboree on August 24 with their season opener at Lake Oswego on August 31, the Titans are looking to their returners to help not just bang heads with their athleticism and physicality, but bringing up the youngsters so when it’s their turn, they can be as ready as they can be.
“It’s really great because we got a lot of guys coming back, a lot of guys that can have the experience to lead the younger guys that have to step up, espically our D-Line,” said Hurlburt. “We just need to get that experience and I feel like with the older guys it will help.”
Photos By Jeremy McDonald