Football: Putnam puts hard work to test in opener against Forest Grove
The water break ended and it was time for Putnam High School's football team to get back to practice.
First, a quick team huddle.
"OK, let's go, 'Hard work' on three," came a voice from the middle of the pack. "One, two, three ... HARD WORK!"
Kingsmen head coach Tim Jacobs stood off to one side with a smile on his face.
"I'm super-excited for this group because of the work ethic we're seeing from them," Jacobs said. "Whenever you don't have to harp on, 'Please, go hard!' you can focus on technique and Xs and Os.
"And another advantage when the guys work hard is that their hard works translates into hard work by the coaches Now we're energized, because they're energized, and we're working through things at a higher pace, a faster pace, a crisper pace, which we hope translates into better execution on Friday nights."
Putnam is one of those teams that has almost no other direction to go but up, coming off a disappointing season that saw the Kingsmen finish 2-7 overall and 1-5 in the 5A Special District 1 East Division.
The Kingsmen have one of their strongest senior classes in recent years, led by Marcellas Kenion, the 6-foot, 165-pound quarterback who is now in his third season as a varsity starter.
Some of the other key returning players are senior tailback Caleb Tovey, senior wingback Sebastian Fernandez-Callaway, senior fullback Jadden Hall, senior tight end John Irish, senior left tackle Noah Meucci, senior tight end Garrett Sholty, and senior wide receiver Sam Sholty.
"The senior class right now, we have about 15 guys and a lot of them are going to be on the field," Jacobs said. "A lot of them started as juniors, and if they didn't start, they played a lot.
"And these kids have been building since they got here. It's that group that has gone boom, boom, boom, level by level, raising their ability from one season to the next. Their work ethic has been tremendous this spring and summer, which has been very refreshing, where we're not having to coach 'effort' and we're able to focus on football."
Putnam is still running the same modified wing-T offense, although Jacobs insists that there is a good chance the Kingsmen will put the ball in the air more this season.
"We think we have the ability with a senior quarterback (Kenion) and a returning first-team, all-league wide receiver (Sam Sholty) to throw more," Jacobs said. "But, by nature of what we do, any throwing we do has to fit within the offense and be right. We don't want to force feed a passing attack if we're not a passing team.
"One thing we did differently this summer was we scheduled more 7-on-7 scrimmages, so I think our passing game is further ahead of where it has ever been going into the season."
The first big test comes Friday when the Kingsmen plays host to Forest Grove in a 7 p.m. non-conference game at Foelker Field.
"We want to make sure that we have the right amount of scheme of offense and defense to be successful," Jacob said. "And what we're really trying to look at with that is: How much is not overdoing it? What do we need going into Week 1 to win Week 1?
"Getting a win or two early really sets the tone for the season. The one thing I can say about our conference and our side of Special District 1 is there are a lot of well-coached teams and good players. When you have a game this is close or one that you can win, you have to find a way to get the job done."
WEEK 1 GAMES
OREGON CITY vs. GRANTS PASS: Oregon City won 64-41 in last year's season opener at Grants Pass and then came back and defeated the Cavemen 60-35 in the first round of the 6A playoffs at Pioneer Memorial Stadium.
Pioneers coach Dustin Janz remained undecided on a starting quarterback heading into last Friday's jamboree, saying the competition between junior Trey Martin and sophomore Payton Page was still too close to call.
LA SALLE PREP at DEL NORTE (CALIF.): Junior quarterback Ryan Rosumny is expected to make his first start for the Falcons in Friday's non-conference road game against the Warriors of Crescent City.
La Salle Prep's running attack is led by senior JaJuan Lane, a first-team, all-league selection last season, and junior James Menor.
MILWAUKIE vs. MCMINNVILLE: Senior tailback Korbyn Amundson, who missed almost all of last season with an ankle injury, returns to anchor Milwaukie's ground game as the Mustangs prepare to play the first of their seven regular-season home games at Alder Creek Middle School.
PUTNAM vs. FOREST GROVE: The Vikings capitalized on a pick-six and a fumble return for a touchdown in a 33-13 victory over the Kingsmen in last year's season opener at Forest Grove.
GLADSTONE at BANKS: The Gladiators hit the road to take on the defending 4A state champion Braves, whose only setback last season was a 35-28 loss at Gladstone in Week 1.?
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