By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– Salem Academy’s Dawson Rios can be best described as selfless and hard working.
As a sophomore, he played everywhere except for tackle and center in a game for the Crusaders, who went 4-5 last season. That natural drive has been there since Rios picked up the sport back in the eighth-grade and is something he uses to help his team try to win ballgames by going wherever he needs to be.
“It’s natural. I just want to win games and I don’t care where I play. I’ll go wherever I’ll need to and go wherever coach wants me to be and help the team the best,” Rios said.
The drive was magnetified following the incoming junior lost the starting quarterback job three games into last season, but instead of dwelling on what happened in the past, Rios went to work to improve while helping Salem Academy in the meantime.
“I played those first three games and then I lost that starting spot, so I think that through this season was good motivation of going into it of not wanting to wanting it to happen again and wanting to help my team,” said the Crusader Quarterback. “If I can keep this motivation going and keep this momentum going and then I think the team will follow that and we can ride that momentum for the whole season and into the playoffs and into State.”
And as Salem Academy started team camp Monday in preparation of when the first practice roles around on August 15, Rios has put in a lot of work in the meantime. Honing his talent and sharpening his skills at quarterback to make sure he’s ready this time around when they kick off the season with a jamboree on August 26 and hosting Life Christian of Washington Week 1 on September 3.
The Routes versus Coverage, RVC, helped Rios get thrown in the deep in of making decisions fast and efficiently. Something that will hopefully slow down the game for him come September.
“It’s great because you’re playing with a lot of great talent, you’re playing with the three-four stars. People from all over the nation like California kids, so it really helps playing really, really fast speeds and then coming back to this…that helps slows it down a bit,” Rios said. “”I felt like I did everything I could to prepare me for the season and having that back in my mind of how much I’ve worked this Summer is going to be important and a good confidence boost going into this season.”
Rios and the Crusaders finished third in the Dayton Football Small School 7-on-7 tournament in July, something that gave not just Rios some extra reps at the Quarterback position, but as timing and team chemistry with his offense going into camp and Fall practice.
“I think it was really great because we got a lot of practice with different people from different schools and having a full day of a lot of reps. I mean nine games is a lot of games, but getting to play with my team and my receivers and gong over our plays I think is really going to help with that relationship with receivers and Quarterback. It’s the most important thing there is,” Rios said. “I think it’s going to really help put us on the map a little bit because I think going into this we lost Chase (Brown) last year. He was a big factor to this team and I hope now that people realize that we’re not going to be a mediocre team, we’ve been working our butts off all Summer to be the best team we can be.”
The Team Camp goes through the week before Salem Academy kicks off the first of two weeks of official practice on Monday at Salem Academy.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald