By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– Tini Tiniali III was just doing Tini things during Saturday mornings Saxon Day scrimmage at South Salem High School. A few interceptions here, a few receiving touchdowns there as he looks to end his prep career in the sport that he has played since kindergarten
The game has meant so much to him and the Saxon senior hopes for one last time he can leave his mark on the field. All while sharing it with his teammates as they wrapped up the first week of the season.
“This game, it means everything. There’s nothing like it, I have so much passion for this game, I don’t know how to describe it, I just love the game” Tiniali III said. “I share it through the game and trying to share all of it. Everything I can teach them, I try to give it to them. I try to answer all the questions, trying to be a leader.”
Tiniali III is just one of several returning Saxons coming back from their 6-5 2021 squad that reached the 6A postseason for the first time since the 2018 season. Braedy Vogt, Daschel Smith, Parker Williams, Jaxon Watson, Hatimu Letisi, the list goes on to help South Salem build upon how last season went for them as a unit.
“I feel like we’re much better, more discplined. We’re all better all around and playing as a team. We’re putting it together as a family,” Tiniali III said. “Love this team.”
Letisi, who plays Left Tackle and Defensive End, admits that they’re small in size, but they’re able to make it up being agile and quick. A strength they hope to use this Fall to give Smith and their skill position players time while raising havoc defensively as they move into Jamboree Week this next week. The Saxons are traveling up to Oregon City to partake in the Pioneer’s Jamboree August 26.
“It’ll be a pretty big part in a lot of our moves. A lot of our defensive end rushes are a lot more speed, a lot more power and so we try to use that speed to finesse and get around to the QB,” Letisi said. “We’re a lot smaller in size, a little bit less numbers, but we’re a lot more faster and a lot more powerful with all that speed.”
South Salem opens the season September 3 at Liberty High School in Washington before heading back to Salem to host Sunset on September 9. The Saxons open league play September 17 when Grants Pass comes to town for a 3pm kickoff.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald