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Self-motivated athletes who followed through on solo practices, like senior Deacon Smith, were key to success

COURTESY PHOTO: JOSI WELTER - Seniors Cutter Sandstrom, Logan Johnson, Deacon Smith and Riyle Kauffman prepare for the Seven-Mile War game against St. Helens on April 2.For many of the high school athletes currently rushing through abbreviated seasons, the past year has made training a more difficult hurdle.

A lot of the preseason training that would normally happen in person had to be done individually, with coaches sending workout directions to athletes.

Scappoose High School senior Deacon Smith was one football player who stood out to coach Sean McNabb.COURTESY PHOTO: JOSI WELTER - Scappoose faces off against St. Helens with a much smaller crowd than in typical years.

"You send workouts to the athletes and you hope they're doing them, but you can always count on him," McNabb said. Smith "didn't have to have somebody there watching him; he was very self-motivated."

Athletes who began training well before the seasons started had no way of knowing if there would be any season at all, as COVID-19 case rates and regulations fluctuated.

"There was a point there where we didn't think we were going to be able to play at all," McNabb said.

"We knew it wouldn't be a full season, but we were hoping at least just a couple of games," Smith said.

This year wasn't the first time Smith had faced a short season.

Smith, a running back and linebacker, broke his foot in the spring of his sophomore year. When summer and then fall came around, Smith still wasn't healed enough to play. He missed the first half of the season.

Last summer, he was determined to make the most of his final season.

"I worked out every day running and lifting and doing whatever, just to be ready for the season because I really wanted to make it count," Smith said. "We all knew it wasn't going to be the season we hoped for. But we worked all preseason for it, and we felt pretty good about it."

McNabb said that Smith "has done a really good job being a great leader and making the most of the opportunity."COURTESY PHOTO: JOSI WELTER - Scappoose won 48-0 in their April 2 game against St. Helens.

At the "Seven-Mile War" rivalry game between Scappoose and St. Helens, the stands were far more sparsely filled than in past years, when the longstanding rivalry has brought enthusiastic crowds. At earlier games, there was no audience at all.

"It was just weird seeing how quiet it was. You know, the only people yelling (are) our teammates and the coaches, and then you look up and there's nobody in the stands cheering for you," Smith said.

McNabb said overall participation has been low this year, locally and for other teams.

"There were a lot of kids that just faded out," McNabb said.

Some seniors seemed to just want to focus on finishing out high school, he said. The team also had a few injuries this year, which McNabb attributed to not having the normal pre-season training procedure. Athletes also missed out on the team bonding experiences that typically bring them together.

"I know there's been a lot of struggle with the mental side as well. I think a lot of kids have felt defeated," McNabb said.

Overall, McNabb said, "I've been really pleased with these guys. They've had to endure a lot. … Just the way they have attacked the season with their attitude, I've been very pleased with that."

Smith said the end of his final season playing Scappoose football was hard to process.

"It's hard to walk off, knowing we're not getting in any more games. Usually, we'd be playing up to 12 games, and now we're down to six," Smith said. "It's hard to even think about because it doesn't feel like it's over, but it is." COURTESY PHOTO: JOSI WELTER - Scappoose junior Colin Stoddard runs down St. Helens senior Ashton Smith.

COURTESY PHOTO: JOSI WELTER - Scappoose players line up.

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