Cougars focused on getting better every day
Jimmy Joyce, the new head football coach at Canby, is not a big believer in setting a season goal.
"I've been on teams where you say league championship or bust," Joyce said. "If you lose your first league game, that entire goal is thrown out the window, so what do you do now? You make a new goal, and if that falls apart?"
Instead, Joyce wants the Cougars to improve every day.
"We're going to be a better football team on Tuesday than we were on Monday and go from there," Joyce said. "Obviously we want to win games, but if we can walk out of this season a better football team in November, and I guarantee you we will be a better football team in November, than we were in our first game, I'll be happy and I think our kids will be happy because if they make those steady improvements, we're going to have success."
Joyce is well aware of what he is taking over — a team that has lost its last 15 games and plays in the toughest district in the state.
"We're going to play the best schedule," Joyce said. "There's nothing we can do about it. You have to deal with it the best way you can. You don't want to back down from the challenge either. Canby had success in the Three Rivers League before, and it can happen again."
From 2002 to 2013, the Cougars reached the semifinals of the state playoffs five times.
"It's not too long ago that this was one of the pinnacle jobs in the state of Oregon," said Joyce, who spent the past seven seasons as Beaverton's offensive coordinator. "I remember coming out here as an opposing coach for years and it was one of the toughest games you're going to play all year. The potential is there. You've just got to be willing to put in the work."
Canby has gone 9-37 over the last five seasons.
"Most people that I've talked to, they just want to feel pride in their football program again," Joyce said. "And that's what we want to do. We want to instill pride."
The work started this summer.
"What I was told by some of the assistant coaches who had been here for a while is that last year there was arguably more coaches in the weight room than players," Joyce said. "There wasn't a lot of emphasis, I think, on summer workouts in the past."
Meeting four days a week, Canby averaged between 40 and 50 players in the weight room this summer. The Cougars also practiced for two and a half hours every Wednesday.
Joyce is installing a new offense and defense. After mostly running the Wing-T for the past 40 years, the Cougars are switching to the spread.
"The biggest transition for us is the quarterback position because we have to go from a Wing-T based system to a spread system where our quarterbacks need to learn a lot more," Joyce said. "They have to be comfortable being quarterbacks and we're teaching them how to be quarterbacks. We're asking them to read coverages a lot differently and recognizing stuff and being a coach on the field."
Canby has two quarterbacks battling for the starting spot — senior Andrew Peters and sophomore Mikey Gibson.
While Joyce mostly ran the spread at Beaverton, he is not tied down to one system.
"My whole thing about football, and this comes from my head coach in high school, is do not stuff a square peg in a round hole," Joyce said. "That's why I'm not a system based guy on offense. I want to put these kids in the best possible situation to be successful and if that means we have to change the offense, we have to change the offense. Make our strength a weapon and minimize our weaknesses."
But Joyce believes the spread best fits Canby's 2019 roster.
"Our biggest strength on offense is our wide receiving core," said Joyce, referring to seniors Ronan Gay, Jayden Brewer and K'den McMullin, and juniors Tyler Mead and Chance Miller. "We have to figure out ways to get them the ball."
Joyce also plans to use McMullin at running back as well as senior Wyatt Ramos and junior Jackson Valdrow. They'll run behind an offensive line that has impressed Joyce this summer.
"The way they challenge each other and the way they work together, it's been inspiring," Joyce said. "It's been really fun watching those guys come together. We have a good blend of size and then littler guys that are just pit bulls and that's what you really want. We're deeper than I thought we'd be."
At 6-4, 335 pounds, the biggest lineman is junior Sturgon Anderson. He is joined by senior Brent Patterson, the Metro Area Lineman Challenge lightweight champion, Bryant Raeburn, Kole Schaffner, Joshua Mattern and Payton Martin.
With less depth at linebacker, Canby will run a 4-2-5 defense.
"It's really one of the most adaptable defenses out there," Joyce said..
Raeburn anchors the defensive line, along with junior Josh Haynes. Ramos and Kaden Boyd lead the linebacker group. The secondary features Gay, Valdrow, Brewer and McMullin.
But more than X's and O's, Joyce wants to change the culture at Canby.
"Once you get the culture right, winning becomes pretty easy," Joyce said. "Culture takes a while. You don't get the culture you want, you get the culture you create. You have to go out and create it yourself and that's what we're trying to do right now."
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