By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.—The Saxon Day festivities was just wrapping up with the South Salem Saxon Varsity Football team took the field Saturday morning at South Salem High School.
They were the last to go out as the Saxon Youth Football teams got their reps in on the warm turf field on this sunny morning before watching their High School counterparts do the same shortly after as if it was setting the stage for the Main Event.
With Elijah Enomoto-Haole and Diego Fuimaono out resting up for the jamboree and the season to come, it gave the younger athletes an opportunity to shine on the stage with some of the Varsity guys running around with them.
“It’s nice getting reps in here because they do go down, you feel comfortable. Or as comfortable as you can be,” said freshman Griffin Gardner, who split reps with Zach Case at quarterback Saturday morning on if they have to be called on during a game this season in relief. “It’s crucial, it’s very crucial.”
Enomoto-Haole, who was helping with the younger quarterbacks and the offense with his own headset on, was impressed by the younger guys in the scrimmage with how they did despite being out resting up.
“Resting up today is going to be good for me and Diego because today is just a scrimmage and next week we have our real games and I think that’s going to be good for the team,” said Enomoto-Haole. “I think we looked pretty good out there today, honestly it caught me by surprised but now I think we’re going to be a pretty good team.”
A big defensive force, playing in a new position on the defensive line, was Ashton Adams. The six-foot-four, roughly 295 pound defensive tackle has been playing at defensive end so far this year, and was using his size, speed with his hands and feet to continuously raise havoc on his fellow teammates.
For Adams, he’s says that he’s been bringing in all that energy to practice this week. His coaches have told him to turned it down a bit, but he wanted to give his teammates solid looks during the scrimmage to help them develop and learn entering the jamboree.
“It was really nice, I came into this week, this practice and doubles and I’ve just been going off. Sometimes my coaches call me out telling me, ‘hey you need to control back the physicality a little bit’ because I’ve been hitting guys who play scout team,” “He’ll be playing middle linebacker and I’ll flatback him. I do that a lot sometimes and I need to take it back sometimes, so I came into this thinking:
“‘Ok, I’m going to give these guys real looks. Let them learn a little bit’ and I’m not going to go harder than guys who don’t have as much experience as me. But I was talking to them on the field, ‘hey this what you need to do better next time’.”
Adams referred to helping back-up Left Tackle Ben Kelly in cues to look for to help Kelly out to improve moving forward, and with the injury bug last year that held South Salem to a 4-6 record and 4-4 league record in 2017 en route to a tough first-round defeat, the extra practice and experience will help them this year in 2018.
“So helpful, so helpful. That second-string, it’s so helpful since they’ll know everything,” said Adams. “Last year we struggled with that so much (with) injuries, we had guys who didn’t know what they were doing coming up to play Varsity or second-to-first string. Now we’ve taking that into consideration and now everyone’s on board.”
Enomoto-Haole said that last year that their tough losses to Sprague Week 1 and McNary Week 2 kind of set the tone for them, but the Senior quarterback thinks this year they’ll be battle-tested as they three of their first four games are against Newberg, Sunset and McMinnville. Sprague, though they’re still in the conference, will be a non-league game in Week 4, but will still be a good test for the rivals before both enter league within the week or two following the game.
“I think we just need to buy in, last year we kind of gave up after losing to Sprague and McNary. We just gave up, and we really have a fire and a passion this year I think with the tough schedule I think we can start off with a bang,” said Enomoto-Haole.
And Adams pointed out how guys like him on the line, Diego and Brock Rickman at Tight End, Josh Raynak at Linebacker and the incomer Treyden Harris from Cascade High School to name a few are going to help guide the Saxons towards the right direction as they prepare for their jamboree at Canby this upcoming Friday before kicking off the season August 31 against Newberg at Home.
“It’s definitely going to determine how good of a season we’re going to have is how good me, Diego, Brock Rickman, all those guys on how we can lead with this team and showing them leading by example what a physical football team looks like and what a physical athlete look like,” said Adams.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald