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Team is gearing up for the upcoming season, hoping for significant freshman turnout

COURTESY PHOTO: JOSI WELTER - Scappoose football players stand ready at their only game against St. Helens in the 2020-2021 school year.The Scappoose High School football team is gearing up for a true fall season.

Since June, players have been in the weight room three days a week, lifting weights and running speed and agility drills.

A clearer indication of the team's future this season will come later this month, as coaches will see which returning and new players show up for the new season.

In a normal year, football players would have ended the school year with football practices as part of the J-term, where students spend three and a half weeks taking three classes each day.

Kids didn't get J-term football this past school year.

The lack of extra practice time "has set us behind a little bit," said Coach Sean McNabb. "So we're hitting it hard in the weight room, trying to get as strong as we can, as explosive as we can."

The team's "spirit week camp" will take place next week, and then two-a-day practices start the following week.

Numbers were down last season, with 55 kids across all four grades. Typically, the team has closer to 70 to 80 players. McNabb said he's hoping for 60 or more this year.

McNabb said most of the coaches work in the school. In a normal year, they get to see students, whether as their teacher or just passing through the halls.

"Our core guys have been showing up, but not being in school, not having that connection with players on a day-to-day basis, created a little bit of that disconnect," McNabb said.

The team graduated three starting offensive linemen and had another move out of state last year, leaving the team with one returning offensive lineman.

"We're not real deep on the defensive side either," McNabb acknowledged. "Our strength is we have a lot of our receiver, defensive-back type kids back. We have a lot of speed there.

"We do have quite a few starters back on offense and quite a few starts back on defense, so I am excited about that. But we do have some key holes to fill, and we'll all have our work cut out for us there."

A few standout players are coming back, including senior Luke McNabb, the team's quarterback — and Coach McNabb's son — who threw 15 touchdown passes in six games last season and rushed for another handful, and senior Colin Stoddard, the leading receiver last year and starting free safety.

Senior Austin Verbout will be one of the starting linebackers.

Verbout "has worked really, really hard in the weight room. He kind of took this pandemic period as an offseason to train and he's really coming back in great shape," Sean McNabb said.

D'Angelo Macedo-Becker will be starting running back.

"He's very explosive," said the coach. "He has the ability to score every time he touches the ball because he has great speed."

McNabb said that he typically likes to see 20 to 30 freshmen come out each year. Typically, most of the freshmen who join the football team have prior experience in middle school games. In the last school year, middle schoolers had little to no football experience, meaning some may come less prepared, or not come at all.

But, McNabb said, football is one sport where you can start at the high school level.

"Basketball and baseball, it's hard to never play ever and then decide to come out in high school, just because of all the fundamentals and the skill level that you missed out on," McNabb said.

But compared to those other sports, football relies more on physical fitness and less on technique.

"If you're athletic, we can teach you how to run around, catch a ball, block somebody, tackle somebody," McNabb said. "There's kids that we've had that have come out late in the game, as freshmen, even sophomores, and wound up being all-state players by the time they're seniors. So it's nice to have that experience, but it's also nice to get some kids, and you can teach them exactly what you need for them to do to be successful."

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