Crusaders Enters Fall With Young Core

By Jeremy McDonald

DAYTON, Ore.– Incoming Salem Academy Senior Chase Brown was out making plays for the Crusaders Thursday during the three-way 7-on-7 scrimmage at receiver and at safety.  Being one of the few seniors on the team entering this year on a relatively young team, it’s crucial for quiet Brown to be one of the leaders for Salem Academy entering this Fall.

But for Brown, he’s been impressed with how the younger kids have stepped up to the plate this offseason coming off of the Crusaders 5-1 record in the Spring.

“I think it might take a little bit, but the underclassmen are a lot more athletic and a lot more disciplined than I even assumed.  So I think they’re going to be stepping up to play as early as they can, that’s what I’m hoping for and that’s what I’m going to try help out with,” “Trying to coach them up,” Brown said.

Younger players Dawson Rios and Jesse Bauldree stepped into reps this offseason as Salem Academy looks to replace some key spots like at quarterback with Brandon Reed graduating and the production that Justin Johnson had for them in their turnaround season.

Stepping up to the challenge and not afraid to make mistakes pointed Head Coach Jed Leeper.  With four, five Juniors and the Seniors that they’ve had coming out, it’s a nice thing to see going into Fall Camp on August 16.

Sophomore Dawson Rios directing one of his receivers on where to go against one of Dayton’s two teams Thursday evening at Dayton High School (Picture By Jeremy McDonald)

“I’ve been happy with our young kids, they’re super committed…the core of our group is really young and the thing that I’m really excited about  is that they’re not afraid to go out there with the older guys and make mistakes,” Leeper said.  “They’re coachable, they clean it up and they learn.  If at a young age they can figure it out, the skies the limit for what it looks like at Salem Academy two-years from now.”

When camp comes around, it’s going to be a matter of solidifying where people are going to play.  At the line, they only really lost Baylor York as they turn to replacing the holes elsewhere.  Being able to play different positions helps when you have a team size like the Crusaders do at about 25-27.

“Through the summer, through the 7-on’s you get to learn and experience different positions.  With the size of team that we typically have, we have to have players who knows multiple positions,” Leeper said.  “Week-to-week we could be changing it up depending on what we see in our opponent.

“At camp it’s going to be a lot of that installation, understanding and telling them why.  Why they’re running the plays they’re running and what we’re going to set up offensively and defensively.”

Salem Academy will pop the pads under the lights August 27 with a jamboree at Salem Academy before hosting Illinois Valley September 3.  The Crusaders first road trip of the year will be September 17 when they open up league play in Stayton against Regis.

Photos By Jeremy McDonald


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