By Jeremy McDonald
SILVERTON, Ore.– Azusa Pacific University announced Tuesday that their football program will be cut stemming from the rising cost of travel and the lack of local play for California’s lone Division-II football squad. It left athlete’s like first-year freshman and 2020 Silverton-grad Jackson Clements looking for a new home if they wish to continue their playing careers on the gridiron.
“When the news broke it was definitely a shock to me and a lot of my teammates,” Clements said. “Even though I am not sure where I’ll be playing in the future, I have a lot of peace about the entire situation. I’m trusting that God has a plan in all of this and that I am going to end up exactly where I need to be.
“I’ve learned to not take for granted what I have and to stay in the moment.”
The Foxes offensive lineman has been in some big games for Silverton. Having to go up West Albany and Keith Brown’s Lebanon’s squad the past few years with his lasting memory playing with the Foxes was their State Semi-Final game against eventual 5A State Champions in Thurston at Autzen Stadium.
“We went farther into the bracket than any team at Silverton had ever went in a while. Playing at Autzen was a great experience that we all enjoyed,” Clement started. “I wish we could’ve gotten the win and moved onto the championship, but I’m glad we were one of the four remaining teams in the state.
“With Silverton being such a great program in recent history, there was definitely always a bit of pressure for us to perform. The teams I was involved in were always stacked at multiple spots around the field and our coaching staff did a great job at making sure we were always prepared to play against our scheduled opponents.”
He wasn’t able to experience much of the college game and what it takes to be at this level due to the Pandemic, but picked up little things when he was able. Getting that first taste of the next level. From the elaborate playbook, the weight room and the film room.
Clements admits his football IQ has grown during this one semester with the Cougars, something he hopes to build from moving forward.
“This helped me better understand how to read and understand different types of defenses. I strongly believe that I am a much smarter football player than I was in high school,” said Clements. “Both of these are still things that I can improve on. But the growth I have made in each of these aspects, has made me a better football player.
“Even though there is still a lot of uncertainty right now with the pandemic and now APU cutting its football program, I am staying ready for my next opportunity. I am continuing to work out and I am watching film on NFL and high-level college offensive lineman.”