By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore. — In West Salem’s Titan Black’s victory over Pro Baller 7v7 Red Sunday afternoon at McKay City Park, a Pro Baller’s coach pointed out to his cornerback in front of him that Titan’s Jack Bennett was ‘there best guy right there;.
Bennet, lining up at receiver next to the coach, has been Jackson Lowery’s favorite target throughout Sunday’s Oregon 7’s 7-on-7 tournament. The Titans squad was placed in the ‘High School Iseula Division’, one of the three divisions Sunday that acted as ‘waves’ to accommodate the large number of teams at this weekend’s tournament.
The Pro Baller squad took Bennet out of that particular play, but the Titans would go on to win the contest to advance to the true semi-final round against the High School Aeto Division-winner in the Southridge Club.
For Bennett, to be pointed out as the best option in the 7-on-7 tournament by a coach was an awesome moment.
“It feels pretty good, I’ve been working this whole off-season just to play somewhat football. Just getting out here and if they double me or put their best guy, I just do whatever I can to help my team wherever that’s beat the guy or get him out of the play…whatever to help the team,” said Bennett, who also lined up on defense.
“(The reps) are crucial right now, it’ll be something for them to cancel the season and have none of this stuff. But at least we can get out here and get extra football if we get the regular season we get even more football in the Spring. So, it’s super awesome, we’ll be super deadly when the season comes.”
After a slow start to the day, going 1-1 in pool play, the Titans wheeled off wins against the Pro Baller 7v7 White, North Salem Football Club (North Salem HS) and the win against the other Pro Baller squad to put them a win away from the overall Tournament Championship Game.
Those live reps, regardless it’s through piercing cold north winds, mental challenges from opponents to go with working on things they’ve done. The certain techniques, leverages or coverages and competition all on the same page overall.
“We practice these things. You don’t get too many chances to get live reps against people, especially people that aren’t your own scout team and people you don’t know,” said Lowery. “It’s pretty cool to see our defense and everyone on the same page. Working on the same things we’ve done.”
The Southridge Eight as they are slowly being called for being short-handed, yet super scrappy finishing second to McNary last weekend, found themselves with the Titans Black squad in Overtime. Southridge struck first with a ten-yard strike.
The Southridge Football Club did get the stop, stopping Nate Garcia just shy from matching the Southridge yardage from forcing double-overtime or gaining more for the win, but a flag was called. A blitz that couldn’t be used in the overtime period was used that gave the Titans a second-life.
And they almost succeeded on the second attempt. Lowery tried for the Bennett Connection once more. But came up literally an inch, a finger-length, from winning the game as Southridge broke up the game-winning pass.
With two weeks left, it definitely will serve as fuel for this Titans Black squad moving forward.
“We got to play our game no matter what. No matter how good the team we’re playing, no matter what we got to keep playing and adapt to what you’re doing,” starts Bennett.
“That’s a game that we think we could’ve won and deserve to win, so we just got to go back into practice and fix things. Little things throughout the game as well as the whole day, there’s things throughout the whole day that would have benefited us,” adds Lowery. “So, I think we need to go back and work on some things. Whether it’s offensively, defensively and I think we just got to come next week.”
Photos By Jeremy McDonald