The Cougars expect to be without senior Timmy Johnson and junior Devon Fortier in the lineup the entire year.

by: JEFF GOODMAN - Timmy Johnson throws a pass during a drill for receivers and defensive backs at the Canby football team's Aug. 21 practice. He will likely miss the entire season after having surgery to repair a heart defect.After watching numerous key players miss games with injuries last season, Mike Vaught is convinced that the success of this year’s Canby football team will hinge on its health.

So far, though, not so good.

North Marion transfer Keltin Boykin suffered a concussion in practice three days before the Cougars’ Aug. 30 opener at Tigard, capping an offseason that included major health issues for two of the program’s most talented athletes.

While Canby expects Boykin back in the lineup relatively soon, it will probably have to compete this year without senior Timmy Johnson and junior Devon Fortier.

“Whenever you lose players, important players, it hurts,” senior linebacker Sam Bodine said. “But we have a good group of seniors, and I think we’ll handle that adversity really well.”

Johnson, a backup quarterback behind graduated signal-caller Sam Stelk last season, figured to be a favorite for the starting job this year. But during the spring track and field season, the accomplished decathlete suffered a concussion in pole-vault practice.

While performing a variety of tests, doctors discovered that Johnson had a congenital heart defect that required surgery to repair. The operation was successful.

Still, it means that Johnson will likely miss the entire 2013 football campaign as he goes through rehabilitation.

At practice Aug. 21, Johnson seemed upbeat as he helped facilitate a drill for receivers and defensive backs. He threw several dozen passes, many of them on target, all the while laughing and joking with teammates.

Johnson hopes to be ready for the final track season of his high school career.

Fortier, meanwhile, was looking forward to his junior season of football after blitzing onto the Oregon prep sports scene as a sprinter with some of the state’s fastest times in the 100- and 200-meter dashes this past spring.

But Fortier tore his meniscus and partially tore his anterior cruciate ligament during a football showcase this summer. He had successful surgery, and he’s already begun physical therapy, but he won’t be fully healed in time to make an appearance on the gridiron.

Fortier aided Canby’s attack from the backfield as a sophomore last year, scoring three touchdowns and logging 177 yards while averaging 7.08 yards per carry, so the team will have to search for additional sources of offense in his absence.

“It’s definitely going to hurt us on both sides of the ball,” senior Dominic Shorter said.

Added senior Austin Taylor: “They’re two of our best athletes, so people have to step up. If they do, we should be fine.”

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