By Jeremy McDonald
TURNER, Ore.– It was the last hurrah before the real work begins in August.
With the Cascade Team Camp wrapping up Thursday going into the week off ahead, the Cougars, Dayton and McKay were just three of the teams Thursday morning getting in some last second reps and building some momentum for the season ahead. Seeing where, and how, they can improve going into their first games of the season going into September.
For the Pirates, coming off of their 8-2 season in 2021 and reaching the 3A playoffs, they hope to work on ball security when they get back to work in two weeks. Dayton opens the season at Salem Academy for a jamboree on August 26 before hosting Yamhill-Carlton Week 1 on September 2 with 3A State Championship aspirations this season.
“It’s going to be very important to get all the little fixes and get ready to go for the Championship in a few months. One big thing is not fumbling the football on the first play,” said Dayton offensive tackle Nicholas Simpson. “That’s going to be a huge focus for us and that’s the big thing that we need to work on.”
For the new look Cougars, with their first-year Head Coach Tyler Turner and graduating a bunch of seniors from their 10-1, 4A State Quarterfinal team in 2022, it gave the squad an opportunity for the fresh faces to get some Varsity reps going into August. Especially with Nolan Abrams making the move up to Varsity Quarterback with Jacob Hage graduated and Jacob Bell taking Blake Lewis’ spot in the backfield.
“That’s been the big thing, Nolan Abrams, he was on JV, so this is kind of his first step to Varsity. I’ve been on Varsity since I was a freshman. But it is a big void to fill. Hage and Lewis, they were studs. But with our line, they’re so dominante up front, it’ll be pretty easy to fill,” Bell said of filling the void.
“I think if we keep the grind going, doubles will go a long way for us too, so just the non-stop grinding with Team Camp and doubles. The multiple times a day, I think that’s going to do big things because we’re going to be tired and we’re going to be supporting each other because we’ll all be tired. As long as we’re building each other up like that, we’re going to have no problem against these teams (this year).”
Last year was that ‘building’ to something great-kind of year for the Scots from Salem. After snapping a playoff drought dating back to 2010 in 2022 when they reached the 5A Playoffs following their 4-6 season, McKay used Team Camp in Turner to take that next step going into Fall Camp with their first game September 2 against Lebanon in Salem.
Scots senior Michael Keys points to the large numbers helping and pointing towards the Kansas Drill Tuesday night as their best stretch of the camp as they battled through the heat and great competition.
“Having the numbers out here helps us a lot and I think Tuesday night was one of our best nights, we competed against every team. We only lost to Estacada. If we can keep the consistency of the high-energy (of play), I got chills,” grins Keys about his team. “Big plays, hearing the crowd cheering, it’s so nice. It reminds me of North Salem, our rivalry. when I’m out there I forget everything. I just play, play and play. It’s just adrenaline. Adrenaline, adrenaline, adrenaline, it’s just nice.”
Estacada, Elmira, Harrisburg and Southridge were the other teams that participated in Thursday mornings round robin scrimmages to close out the Cascade Team Camp in Turner.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald