Stepping Into The Challenge

By Jeremy McDonald

KEIZER, Ore.–  West Salem’s Jackson Lowery has some big shoes to fill this season when he takes over the signal calling duties from Simon Thompson when the Titans open the season September 6 against Lake Oswego at home.

And for the Junior Varsity Quarterback that’s making the move up to the Varsity level with the expectations that Head Coach Shawn Stanley has built in the program over the years, it’s a matter of taking his game to the next level.

“You just have to come to work every day, trust and buy-in.  Trust in it and come to work,” said Lowery.  “I just got to become a student of the game.  Through film, through things that are physically…just become a student of the game.  To improve my knowledge.

“It’s really important, like it’ll elevate my game to the next level.”

Lowery he showed off his accuracy in being able to drop the ball into tight windows on a handful of occasions against West Linn during Tuesday evening’s 7-on.  A small window on a short curl route or to the back shoulder of one of his teammates for a touchdown.

Jackson Lowery (4) talking to Coach Josh Riddell (right) about the play that just occurred (Picture By Jeremy McDonald)

One of them even was to teammate Nick Paslay, who wrestled the ball out of the hands of a Lions defender hanging over him for a catch.  Paslay missed some time in 2018 due to mono and is excepted to contribute once more at receiver and defensive back.

But whenever the offense wasn’t on the field, Lowery was picking the brain of Josh Riddell on plays and situations and was trying to stay active and loose on the sidelines by throwing.  Riddell returned to West after spending the past three seasons at McKay High School as the Head Coach of his alma mater.

“We got a special group this year.  Just every day in the weight room and on the field.  We got work, we’re gelling really well,” said Lowery.

The offense won’t be as flashy as they were last season, more running than passing as the Titan offense became the past few seasons as the focus will be on the fundamentals.

Anthony Pugh (21) and the linebackers joke around during Tuesday’s 7-on-7 versus West Linn (Picture By Jeremy McDonald)

“It’s going to be really important; I think we’re going to try to work on run-game and grind it out,” said Anthony Pugh.  “That wasn’t completely there last year as we wanted, so that’s going to be our biggest cornerstone is that we’re going to run first and pass second.  Which is opposite to what we were doing last year and we’re really trying to hammer that in.”

Pugh, who picked up some reps at Middle Linebacker and Reciever Tuesday at McNary, mentioned as well about their young secondary.  The Titans are replacing guys like Jamal McMurrin, Anthony Gould from the secondary and Alex Hurlburt from the trenches and the Linebacker core and for the younger guys to get those reps with 7-on’s so that when the jamboree comes around at the end of August entering Week 1, they’re comfortable in their new positions.

“That’s huge for those guys because they can make those mistakes here where you don’t beat yourself up too bad because there’s no score kept.  We’re just out here trying to get better and have fun,” said Pugh.  “This is super crucial for our new backers, new safeties, new corners, working out those kinks for the jamboree and getting more comfortable with our new positions.”


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