By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– Sprague will be raw in talent, but the drive is there coming off of their 6-3 season and their first playoff appearance since 2017 as they look to carry over last year’s success into 2022.
Filling the void left by graduating All-League seniors in Logan Smith, David Sherman, Cole Elmore, Jordan Jeffries and Blake Stubbefield to name a few that will see guys like Will Hassoun filling in at Quarterback, Drew Rodriguez on the perimeter, Gavin Nguyen and Cole Steketee in the trenches after picking up league honors in 2021 and Casen Collins in the backfield.
The backfield and the linebacking core will be different without Riley Davis, who transferred after picking up first-team Running Back and Linebacker league honors last year as a junior. But for Collins, who’s a fullback and linebacker himself, the incoming senior feels like him and his core will be just fine going into the season.
“I don’t think we’re going to struggle at all with it. I feel like our linebacking core is the strongest, absolutely strongest unit on the defense. I feel like we have a bunch of dudes, they’re ready to step up and ready to fill that gap. They’ve learned fast and they’ve had that experience, so I don’t think we’re going to struggle with that,” Collins said. “I think we’ve taken all the right steps (as a team) towards bettering ourselves. I feel like we’ve spent time focusing on the fine details and I think all of the players have developed through the Summer, through the workouts and the conditioning. I feel like we’re ready to step up to that level and I think we’re going to compete well and win.”
Best way to describe Collins is passionate. Passionate for the game, passionate for his teammates and passionate for the program that he’s been a part of the past few years.
“Football is the most important thing to me outside of my family life and the people that I love. Football has helped me through so much, it’s a passionate game and I have a lot of teammates out here and I have love for all of my teammates, we do this all together. It’s a family, it’s a family, it’s a part of the family that you love and depend on and that they’re going to be there at the end of the day.
“Football for me, that’s the biggest thing and is the most important thing to me and leaving my mark here at Sprague, that’s been something that’s been a long time in the making ever since I was little. I wanted to leave my mark here at Sprague, doing exactly what I’m doing.”
Collins points to being a freshman and having the bigger, stronger and faster kids push him to be better. They’ve helped him improve and develop and now it’s his turn to do the same as he enters his final season in an Olympian uniform.
“Having that brotherhood, helping those younger than you and teaching them the little things that someone taught you is something people have helped me do and that’s something I feel is important to leave behind on Sprague. To help the young grow and help them get better and help them to a Varsity level”
Sprague heads to Wilsonville for a jamboree on August 25 before kicking off the season at Liberty High School on September 2.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald