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Freshman QB Sam Vidlak and other youngsters get in plenty of work to prepare for August training camp.

COURTESY PHOTO: KARL MAASDAM/OSU ATHLETICS - Freshman quarterback Sam Vidlak, from Hidden Valley High, has impressed OSU coach Jonathan Smith.Oregon State coach Jonathan Smith exited spring football practice with a good feeling about his team.

"We have a tight-knit group. They got after each other but with mutual respect," Smith said Saturday, May 8 after the 15th and final practice in front of fans at Reser Stadium. "We got good leadership on this team. We're more physical defensively across the board. That's an emphasis for us. We made tweaks to how we want to approach tackling. … I'm pleased with the physicality of the defensive front."

"This team works really well together," tight end Luke Musgrave said. "We got a lot of good camaraderie. I think this whole team is tight, and we're ready to go to battle together come fall."

Some players had to be limited during 90-minute scrimmage and practice because they're coming back from injuries and surgeries — QB Tristan Gebbia and linebacker Avery Roberts have been limited this spring — and another 14 had to sit out because of COVID-19 protocol, meaning they tested positive or had contact with a positive individual or hadn't concluded a 14-day quarantine.

Plenty of young players were put through their paces during spring ball, including true freshman quarterback Sam Vidlak, who entered college early in a year that he would normally be a senior at Hidden Valley High. Chance Nolan was the other QB available for the Saturday practice with Gebbia and Ben Gulbranson (COVID-19 protocol) out.

"He's better," Smith said of the 6-1, 185-pound Vidlak. "He's had a skill set to create, but you saw it (Saturday) where he's comfortable with progressions, managing the game and played with great poise. He has got better from practice 1 to 15. He has the opportunity to make a jump in summer because of exposure to these practices, and compete in fall camp."

Fighting Shockwave in action — Those anxious for some football before September can catch the Portland Fighting Shockwave on Saturday, May 15 at Hare Field in Hillsboro.

The Fighting Shockwave (1-0), a women's team, are scheduled to battle the Capital Pioneers of Salem (1-0) at 6 p.m. Tickets cost $10 and can be purchased at portlandfightingshockwave.com.

WNBA tips off — The WNBA season opens Friday, May 14 and fans with NBA TV can watch the return of former Oregon star Sabrina Ionescu at 4 p.m. as her New York Liberty host Indiana. Two Saturday games will be on ABC/KATU, including Chicago and ex-UO player Ruthy Hebard against Washington at 10 a.m. and defending champion Seattle hosting Las Vegas at noon. Games can also be found on CBS Sports Network.

Winterhawks wrap up season — The Portland Winterhawks were scheduled to complete their 24-game season with a home game on Tuesday, May 11 against the Tri-City Americans.

Portland was finishing the abbreviated Western Hockey League season strong. The Hawks beat Spokane 5-1 on Saturday, May 8 then scored a season-high nine times in a Sunday win at Tri-City.

The Winterhawks were 12-8-3 entering Tuesday and will finish second in the U.S. Division. Everett, which won five of six games against Portland, is the division champion.

There are no WHL playoffs this season. The league hopes to resume regular operations in the fall.

Entering Tuesday's finale — the last WHL game for Portland 20-year-olds Nick Cicek and Mason Mannek — Simon Knak and Jaydon Dureau were tied for the points lead on the team with 29. Knak led in goals with 16, Dureau with 20 assists. Reece Newkirk had 26 points and Seth Jarvis 25.

Jarvis was named WHL player of the week last week after producing five goals and two assists, including a hat trick, as the Winterhawks went 3-0.

— Paul Danzer, Jason Vondersmith


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