By Jeremy McDonald
WOODBURN, Ore.– Over the last two-, three-years the expectations for the Santiam Football team has been anything short of high.
After going 10-18 between 2013 and 2015 and no postseason visits, the Wolverines have since went 28-8 with a Quarterfinals visit and two finals appearances over the last three seasons entering 2019.
And as they made the near-hour long trip from Mill City Tuesday to Woodburn High School for 7-on-7, they know there’s a sense of high expectations with some big shoes to fill after the success of the last three seasons.
“You just got to expect for the best, so every year we’re going for the Blue. Pursuit for the Blue,” said Brody Davidson.
It’ll be harder in 2019 with the graduation of nine seniors like Trevor Tinney, Jesse Sendlinger, Dustin Keys, Trevor Whitmire, Garrett Wallen, Wyatt Lyon and Connor Forste that played key roles for Santiam the last few years. At the 2A level, that’s a huge void left with nine athletes graduating.
But thanks to several games last season that were well-in-hand, especially the 2A State Semi-Final game against Monroe, those younger guys coming up to fill those voids won’t have as much of a hard time adjusting to the demands of the Varsity level this Fall.
“We’ve been able to get those young guys some playing time, so that makes our job a little bit easier as upperclassmen. But we’re going to straighten them out, dialing down the little things and I think we’ll be able to make a nice run,” said Colin Thurston.
Thurston, who’s returning as the starting Quarterback for the Wolverines this season as a Senior, pointed towards the last two seasons as benefits for the younger guys who got to pick up some valuable reps in those large wins that’ll help them entering this season.
Davidson, Thurston and Quinten Cook all experienced the last two State Runner-Up experiences while guys returning like a Riley Rothrock and Ethan Breen picked up some experience last season entering this season.
And with Fall Camp starting in two weeks and Week 1 on the horizon, that ‘dialing’ process is in full force entering that first practice on August 19.
“It’s good. We’re young so we’re just building, we’re all in the weight room everyday getting ready for the upcoming season,” said Davidson on the team.
Yes, the bar has been set, but to compare this year’s team to last is hard to do with the new faces coming in to replace those who have recently graduated this past June.
“This year we’re kind of starting from scratch because we don’t got those guys and so we’re just playing it without any sort of comparison to last year,” starts Thurston. “That’s how we’re going forward and just trying to play each game like it’s our last because for me and these other guys it is our last.”