Lions Solid Core Returns For Season

By Jeremy McDonald

JEFFERSON, Ore.–  Jefferson Football was perhaps one of the surprise teams in 2A this past Spring under now third-year Head Coach Kaleb Gilgan.

In Gilgan’s first year, the Lions went 1-8 with their lone win coming against Central Linn 28-8.  This past Spring, with one Senior in Leon Romo and a strong young core of Sophomores and Juniors, Jefferson went 4-2 in the young coaches second-year at the helm on a short-season slate with 18 kids on roster.

“I think it was great for the kids, we had such a young team and we had four Juniors that are all coming back this year.  It puts a little bit of glee in the kid’s eye and makes them want to come out to move forward,” Gilgan said. “You can tell by the numbers that we had out right now over summertime, the kids are looking forward to it and we’re excited for what’s to come.”

Wednesday’s practice nearly matched the number with 17 kids out.  Numbers at workouts are around 20 and roughly 25 kids are expected to be out for the first day of practice on August 16.

Cody Jurgens, Jameson Bender and Caleb Rodriguez were some of the names Gilgan mentioned returning this season.  Trevor Withee, Jace Aguilar and Zach Wusstig were other names returning that were out at the practice Wednesday as they went over some offensive stuff early on following conditioning.

About 18 kids was at Wednesday’s Voluntary Camp as Jefferson will look to their solid core of returnees from their 4-2 season entering the Fall season (Picture By Jeremy McDonald)

That Junior Class with Aguilar and Wusstig will be the big foundation builder for the Lions going into this season and into next as they just continue to develop and grow.  A plus for sure marching into Fall and their first game of the season.

“It’s really nice.  They’ve played since they were freshmen.  Their freshman year we had too many injuries that they got a lot of playing time and they came into the Spring, took the reins and took control and became the leaders of the team,” Gilgan said.  “It shows right now and it’ll show throughout the season and we’ll have them again next season so it’s going to be great.”

The bodies now help to incorporate their new offense under Jacob Karnes, who enters his first-year with the program this season.  Gilgan spoke highly of his football IQ and his ability to simplify what he wants with the team will be an important asset.

“At this point so far, we had dead week last week but we installed plays the week before and I think we got ten (plays) installed that they understand.  They understand the play calls,” Gilgan said.  “I mean it’s great.”

The Lions will be at the Willamina Jamboree at the end of the month before kicking off the season September 3 against Scio and Gervais the next week before opening up league play at Toledo on September 17.

Photos By Jeremy McDonald

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