By Jeremy McDonald
TUALATIN, Ore.– 40 athletes came out for Team Alpha’s 7-on-7 tryouts Saturday afternoon at Horizon Christian High School in their second-wave of the try-out session.
Ifo Ekpre OlomuOf those 40, only 18 of them will join former North Salem and Southern Oregon University receiver Dylan Young, former University of Oregon defensive back Ifo Ekpre-Olomu and former Duck receiver Jeff Maehl, all are coaches of the squad.
The prospects include some big names, from the Salem-area the Vikings TC Manumaleuna, West Salem had a few representees as well. Sprague’s Drew Rodriguez joined as did Salem Academy’s Chase Brown, Silverton’s Kyle Kramer and Woodburn’s Tomas Veliz.
For Kramer, he came into the try-out used to some big situations. Having played in roughly eight showcases while playing with the Valley Capitals in the 7-on-7 league under South Salem assistant Coach Billy Musgraves.
“It’s just been great because I’ve been able to do stuff that I was never able to. I’ve gotten a longer off-season to get better,” Kramer said. “7-on-7. A lot of showcases are going on, so I have a lot of time to go to those. Lifting a lot, getting stronger and getting ready for the season.”
The Titans Jackson Lowery has been equally busy as the quarterback, finding ways to improve his game entering what is currently his six-week final season with West Salem this Spring. Looking at the try-out with Team Alpha as an opportunity to get better while trying to make the team.
“It sucks that we didn’t get to play in the Fall, but got to look at it as an opportunity to get better so when the time does come when we can start playing, we’re ready. I look at it as an opportunity to get better in the weight room, get better on the white board and to get better with our game,” Lowery said. “It’s cool because usually a Senior won’t be able to play another season of 7-on-7, but since we haven’t played our Senior year of High School Football, we’re allowed to come out here and play.
“It’s another great opportunity to come out here and compete. More importantly earn a spot to play on the team and get more reps to become better and prepare for a season this Spring.”
The coaching staff, who all had some professional experience in one-way or another. Young with the Canadian Football League, Maehl and Ekpre-Olomu with the NFL. The three put the 40 athletes, on the heels of a freshman session earlier in the day, with drills.
20-yard dash for time. Indy drills on offense and defensive to see how they move with eyes on the finer details of the game like footwork. Working on things on air and 1-on-1 opportunities.
They ended the try-out with fun competition. Short sprints to short routes. Twenty-yard sprints with intermediate and deep routes sprinkled in. Testing their endurance and desire for the game there in the practice environment.
It doesn’t matter the school you’re from, it’s just about the size of the fight within you.
“It’s a great feeling to put my talent out there against the whole State,” Veliz, a Woodburn Bulldog Junior. “I just always go in there with confidence that I’m the best player on the field everytime I step on the field. So, it doesn’t matter if I’m small school, big school, I just work hard and leave it all on the field.
“I feel like I did pretty well today. There’s always room for improvement, but it’s a start. I’ve tried my best on the field, I’ll keep getting better on the field no matter what. Overall, it’s a good start.”
Veliz mentioned that with him, it’s working on crisper routes and footwork on defense.
The try-out ended with people calling out each other for some one-on-one fun at the goal line, ending the intense workout on a high-, and positive note.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald