By Jeremy McDonald
SHERIDAN, Ore.– While Head Coach Steven Grauer was checking in on one of his Sheridan players, two Spartans players in Gavin Anderson and James Haas took it upon themselves to continue the conditioning drill that they were doing Thursday evening.
“That’s what we preach culture wise. Yeah I’m the coach and I dictate certain things, but during the game, they’re the ones who dictate most of the things that happen,” Grauer said. “They’re seniors, they’re leaders and they’ve been in our program for four-years.”
Entering his fifth year at the helm, fourth-full year after taking over midway through the 2017 season, the Spartans have slowly become a fixture in the 2A State Playoffs since their drop-down from 3A four years ago. With their mantra of ‘plus-2’, they’ve been at least .500 in their four seasons in 2A entering this Winter.
This past Spring was a challenge however. With a short-bench, it gave everyone an opportunity to just play and not worry about making a mistake during the season.
“I think we learned. I think the kids learned that they’re capable of going further than they thought,” Grauer said. “Like ‘hey, if you’re out there and you’re playing well. Keep going’. We’re not necessarily going to sub, if you’re playing well then we’re going. We’re going to take our advantages that way.
“When you do come into the game, subs are going to happen and kids are going to get hurt, foul trouble, etc. it’s your time. Earn your time.”
They return four starters from their Spring season. Randy Gibson, Cesar Casillas, Anderson and Hass all return. Gibson, Hass and Anderson all are seniors who picked up significant minutes for the Spartans this year looking to build off of the Spring as they kickoff the season December 1 when they host Willamina at 7:30pm.
Preparing for yet another tough Tri-River Conference slate with the likes of Western Christian, Kennedy, Salem Academy, Santiam and themselves battling for the top spots in league. Gervais, Colton and Culver will be behind them looking to catch them on an off-night to possibly sneak into the league playoffs come season’s end.
Grauer points to focusing on the here and now as they focus on the season ahead for them this Winter.
“I’ve kind of preached that if we can take care of today, tomorrow is going to be that much more taken care of. Let’s just focus on the present,” Grauer said. “If we get better today, we’ll be a better team tomorrow.”
Sheridan will have a league game on December 17 against Culver before opening up the bulk of their TRC-play on January 6 when they host Gervais.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald