Early morning practice pays off for the St. Helens High School Lions
Home cooking is always nice, as St. Helens High School squeaked out a 26-24 home-field victory Friday, March 26, against Forest Grove.
Contacted before the game by the Spotlight, Lions coach Cory Young expected a strong challenge from the visiting Vikings.
"We've had some good matches, here and there, over the years," Young said.
But while paying attention to their opponents, Young said, the Lions have been focusing on sharpening their game. They made it into the win column by beating the Vikings on Friday, improving to 1-2 on the season.
"It's been more on us," Young explained of the team's approach. "Just getting better on the aspects we need to take care of: our physicality up front between the tackles, our ability to tackle on defense and get in the right positions defensively and make plays.
"It's important we take care of us. We've got a lot better at those two aspects in the last two weeks."
Looking at the Lions' strengths, Young said, "A lot of our experience is coming from inside with our seniors, on the offensive line. With our younger group, their strength is certainly up front with the offensive and defensive line."
Some of the Lions' players against Forest Grove were suiting up for the first time in a game, Young said. These freshmen "have earned the right to be on the sideline, under the lights, on Friday night with the varsity team, so we're excited to have those guys on the team," he added.
It's good to show a bit of flexibility, Young noted — as an example, Gavin Kust, whom the coach said "gets moved around a lot."
"Depending on where we're at, with injuries or something pops up on the offensive line, he goes anywhere," Young said. "Any of the guards and any of the tackle spots, he can play."
As COVID-19 health and safety restrictions are loosened across Oregon, football teams can get out and practice more.
And football players at St. Helens High don't seem to be having trouble getting up in the morning to run through two hours of practice.
"They haven't done that for a while. It's kind of a struggle, but a lot of them, once they got into it, they liked it," Young said.
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story misstated the win/loss record of the St. Helens High School football team. The team improved to 1-2 by defeating Forest Grove. A game versus Canby scheduled for March 19 was not played. The story has been corrected.
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