Using The Championship Game As Fuel

By Jeremy McDonald

MILL CITY, Ore—If 2017 was anything, it was truly a rollercoaster of emotion the final two games of the season for the Santiam Wolverines.

Faced with a long Cottage Grove High School field and an undefeated St. Paul Buckaroo defense in front of them that allowed just under 100 points all season long entering that faithful November evening.  But, like a Joe Montana-led drive, Colin Thurston and company chipped away at the St. Paul defense with the deadly combination of Thurston-to-Jordan Lanham.

That combination set up, like a pool shot almost with the left pocket pooch kick by Sean Horning to send the Wolverines to the trip to the Title Game.

“It was an amazing experience, that definitely got us a little over the top where we got into the Championship we just kind of let that be our milestone and not let that be our peak.  Then we got a little lackadaisical and got beat up front,” said Dustin Keys on the tale of the two games.

Clint Forste (Red T-Shirt) walking through corrections with a player during Thursday’s practice (Picture By Jeremy McDonald)

That high was quickly brought down a week later in the Title Game against Monroe as Santiam finished second in the State.  But they are entering 2018 using that sour taste as fuel entering this season.

“Literally everyone that played in that game wants it more than anything after watching them hold up that first place trophy, it just burns and we want payback,” said Trevor Tinney on that game entering this season.

Tinney and Brody Davidson joins Thurston in the backfield with Davidson and Tinney being the workhorses at Running Back and Thurston at quarterback.  The line added size with the arrival of Garrett Wallen from Scio to go with guys like Keys and Wyatt Lyon as they hope to bounce back after how last season ended, and it starts with team chemistry which isn’t that much of a big issue said Tinney.

“I think a big part of Santiam Football is how close we are as a team and how we bond I think is a big part of our success.  I think we’re a really good bonded team and I think that’s a big part of our success,” said Tinney.

Jesse Sendlinger listening to his coaches at the end of practice Wednesday as Santiam looks to duplicate last years success (Picture By Jeremy McDonald)

Thursday mornings practice was a test of that with mentality of knocking off the rust from the summer as they are slowly putting on the pads for practice, but as their coaches said at the end of the day, ‘Let tomorrow be the best day’ as they look to end the week off strongly.

“The first couple of drills we came out popping a little bit and did a couple of drills to get us up and going then lost focus towards the end.  Just fatigue getting the best of everyone,” said Keys.  “We just got to correct ourselves personally.  We got to know where we went wrong and as a team we got to know where we went wrong and go from there.”

Keys too mentioned that if they’re clicking on all cylinders, then they’ll be hard to scout as they have a jamboree at the end of next week and travel up 22 to Regis on August 31 to take on the Rams to kickoff the season.

Photos By Jeremy McDonald


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