By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– West Salem’s Jimmy Lathen has been a workhorse for the Titans this season. The senior running back had helped the Titans pick up their first win of the season on October 14 against McNary.
In Saturday afternoon’s game with North Salem, Lathen threw, caught and ran the ball against the Vikings as he drew the attention of the North Salem defense to him in the Vikings 31-6 victory over the Titans at home. Lathen points to a team effort behind his contributions with his and his fellow senior’s season drawing to a close.
“It’s a group effort. All of our seniors, we’ve been together since Middle School. We all put in the effort and it’s tough when it doesn’t pay off, but we’ll keep working. We got another week to look froward to,” Lathen said.
The first half was something out of a horror movie of sorts for West Salem. The little things went against them and North Salem took full advantage of them. The Viks used two Erick Gonzalez interceptions and turned them into points, one was a pick-six and another led into a Jerrik Wangler score that turned a 3-0 lead into a 17-0 lead.
Mix in North Salem using a facemask penalty on a hook-and-ladder play towards the end of the half that led to a TC Manulmaleuna-Josiah Davis connection with a second left in the half that aided the Vikings 24-0 lead going into the second half.
“It got the energy of the team up and I just tried to do my best on both sides of the ball and today was mostly defense and that got us some scoring drives,” Gonzalez said. “We had a little more pressure on us (in the second half) because offense wasn’t clicking so our defense had to step up. But later in the game our offense came back and helped us a little bit. We just had to stay on our toes and make sure they didn’t score the damn ball.”
The thing about a Shawn Stanley-led team is that they’ll always find ways to compete no matter the situation, and they did going into the second half. They picked up an important defensive stand on the first possession out of the break, Roman Burrow and Lathen sparked the West Salem offense that ended with Lathen scoring from three-yards out.
And that’s when the North Salem defense stepped up to the challenge as both squads continued to trade defensive stops. North halted two promising drives by West Salem, the latter one resulted in Wangler’s second touchdown of the game following Jamar Soaloadaob interception. It was all will-power points Lathen in that second half.
“There was all will. I mean we could’ve quit and thrown in the towel, but all of our boys especially our O-Line there stood up. We moved the ball in the second half and that was what we were planning on doing and if we started off better, it could’ve been a different game,” Lathen said.
Lathen threw a 24-yard pass to Burrow in the second half on top of 80-yards rushing and a reception for seven yards in the defeat as the Titans end their season Thursday against Sheldon.
The running game of the Vikings, with Wangler, along with Davis and Micah Richter anchored the running game for the Vikings who will look to build upon this win going into the Mayor’s Cup Friday against South Salem coming off their first win in three weeks going into the big game. A big game that’ll match up the Saxons skill plays versus the skill players that North Salem has.
“It’s a huge week. South is a heavy-passing team and I think we have a great group of DB’s, so we got to be playing the ball, get picks like we did today” Gonzalez starts. “We all need to be on our best against South, it’s a good football team and we need to make sure we compete to our level and not allow anything.”
Photos By Jeremy McDonald