By Jeremy McDonald
HILLSBORO, Ore.– West Salem looked like they were keeping up with their Salem-counterparts in McKay in the Metro-Area Lineman Challenge at Hare Field Saturday in the Tug-of-War event to close out Saturday’s festivities.
Anchored by Holden Whipple and with assistant coach Mike Baker and quarterback Jackson Lowery in their ear holes, the Titans were on the brink of eliminating Canby from the double-elimination bracket and advancing to the Quarterfinals that was within inches for them.
But, it wasn’t necessarily the best of finishes for West Salem as they saw their front two athlete’s lose their footing, causing them to slip and the Cougars slowly took advantage of the miscue and turned the script on the Titans for the win.
“I feel like it’s good because we’re going to need to be able to bounce back from stuff like that and be ready to go for the next game when stuff and hardship come through like that. We need to come ready to roll,” said Whipple.
And as they went to support the Scots from the other side of the bridge, a West Salem team that finished seventh in the event and saw Ethan Hoppe finish third in the ‘heavyweight’ individual points, the experience for the unit to come together is something that’s going to help them this season.
“It’s fantastic, we all become a lot closer. I’ve seen it and I’ve experienced it myself and I know it’s going to make it better this season,” said Whipple.
McKay, who finished eighth and fourth the last two years at the Lineman Challenge, were dominant as twins Janderi and Gio Perez finished second and third in the ‘Lightweight’ individual points standings out of 150 athletes. Gio won the Vertical Jump event while Janderi broke the tire flip record with 16 in 30 seconds while being the front guy for the tug-of-war crew that advanced to the Semi’s against Sunset.
“To be honest, it’s a blessing and an honor to be able to do it. I’ve known them since middle school you know, (at) Waldo and some just in High School. But I’m just happy,” said Janderi Perez on being in charge at the front. “We came up short last year in Tug-of-War and we dominated in a lot of events, I feel good.”
They caught some of the interest with how well they were performing Saturday, and as they got the whistle to go with a predominantly bigger Apollo’s team in front of them, McKay advanced to the Title Round after a few second stalemate at the start.
But there was going to be a rematch for the Title as Sunset won their next match to get back on track. As both teams lined up for the rematch, the Scots one win away from winning the title outright with an undefeated record with the Apollos needed two wins, the whistle blew to start the rematch.
The rematch didn’t last long. McKay came out, chalk on their hands and a firey desire on their faces, they drove back to the line of victory to seal their undefeated run and the Tug-of-War title.
“I already think it’s helping us,” said Janderi Perez as they celebrated the win. “We’re getting stronger day-by-day. That tire flip for example, the only reason I was able to do it is because my coach right there, Coach (Ken) Ramirez pushed me to be a better man day-by-day. But most of all I was trying to do it.”
That drive by Ramirez and the McKay coaches there Saturday put them in favorable position as the team points were named off, and as they entered the Top 3 and haven’t heard their name yet until the very end when they won the event with 71 points, it was nonetheless a good way to enter Team Camp this week for the squad.
“It’s amazing. We’ve been building this up since my sophomore year, I’ve started my sophomore year,” said Zair Ku Beiza, who won the Vertical Jump and Tire flip while finishing second in the ‘Heavyweight’ individual standings. “We came in eighth and then we came in fourth and finally my Senior year we won it, so the future is looking bright for McKay Football.”
Photos By Jeremy McDonald