By Jeremy McDonald
SILVERTON, Ore.– Hard work really does pay-off and the reward for it is a true blessing.
As the clock hit 12:10pm Wednesday afternoon in the Silverton Library, Will Perry and Levi Nielsen both signed on the dotted-line to play football at Western Oregon University in Monmouth at the NCAA Division-II level.
Perry, a transfer from little now-2A (then 3A) Gervais this year, described the hard-work it took him going from starting lineman for the Cougars to starting on the offensive line for the Foxes come start of the season.
“It’s a blessing, I came in not knowing what to expect. Big 5A school coming from a small 3A school at the time and just not knowing if I was going to get playing time. But just working hard in the summer, I was able to earn a starting smart and it’s all history from there,” said Perry on the transition.
Then Week 3 against Lebanon. One of the most physical games on the schedule saw injuries for both Perry (Concussion) and Nielsen (partially-torn PCL) that put a damper on the Seniors’ seasons.
Through the difficult times of their final prep season, both stayed focused and slowly gained back their confidence by season’s end.
“It was tough because in practice doing certain movements at times it would pop and it kind of reminded me when I kind of torn it,” said Nielsen of his injury. “Certain movements were definitely a struggle to get pass for quiet a while, but once I got over that I got confident in the games and everything was better.”
The Foxes reached the second round of the 5A State Playoffs before falling to West Albany 20-16 on November 9.
And though their prep careers are now over, a new opportunity awaits them ahead as members of the Wolves Football programs at the college level of the sport they care deeply for.
“I’m excited to see what I’m able to do at Western and I’m excited because the coaching staff really believes in me and see a bright future for me. So, I’m excited to see what I can do,” said Nielsen of the opportunity after being a Varsity starter since halfway through his freshman year.
For the guy sitting to his right Perry, it was uncertain if he would get an opportunity to go on to play collegiate football until the opportunity came knocking to play at his father’s alma mater at Western Oregon University. The opportunity was hard to explain but holds a special place for the future collegiate Guard/Center.
“It’s deep for me because he died when I was 13 and so just to be able to go to his school where he played in the late 70s, early 80s…. he was the one who introduced me to football. I don’t know, just to be able to go to his school. I don’t know, it’s hard to explain,” said Perry. “Two months ago, I didn’t know if I was going to be able to sign to a school.
“I didn’t know what my situation was going to be, but to be playing at my father’s alma mater and being able to go out and represent Gervais in a sense and represent Silverton also. They’re both second homes.”