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The Indians' Sept. 2 opener, originally scheduled at home, will be played at Gladstone due to the new turf field.

PMG PHOTO: SCOTT KEITH - Scappoose head football coach Sean McNabb showing some game skills with his players. After a long, hot summer, Scappoose High School football coach Sean McNabb and his St. Helens High counterpart, Cory Young, are looking forward to a return to Friday Night Lights.

McNabb has kept his football squad busy this summer, describing the off-season as "back to more of a normal."

McNabb said, "With all the COVID and all the restrictions, it has been a while since we have been on a normal schedule … as soon as school was out, we were back in the weight room. We had it open three days a week."

Visiting Camp Rilea on the Oregon Coast for five days in August, the team performed two-a-day practices.

"Basically, we're over there, we're practicing, we eat together, we practice together, we do some team building activities together while we're there," McNabb added.

But now the Indians play for real and the season opener is Friday, Sept. 2, at Gladstone. The game was originally a home contest, but it had to move to Gladstone because the new turf field at Scappoose High isn't quite ready.

Even after star quarterback Luke McNabb left the squad after his senior year, his father, coach McNabb, is confident starting the new season.

"We have quite a few returners from last year," he said. "There are two or three kids that this will be their third year starting for us."

McNabb pointed out that Trey Derringer is a three-year starter on defense while Jonathon Clothier is going to be a three-year starter on offense.

"We do have some holes to fill," McNabb said. "We have two kids who are competing for the quarterback spot right now. I'm still not determined who is going to start there."

McNabb is looking forward to playing in the Cowapa League, moving from 5A to the 4A classification.

"Astoria has always been a really big game for us; it has been a good rivalry for us," he said. "They always play us tough."

McNabb added, "You can always count on Tillamook to have a bunch of real tough kids. They're very scrappy. Seaside is a team that started to get really good in the Cowapa right when we moved out."

For St. Helens coach Young, the first game is Friday, Sept. 2, at home against LaSalle.

Looking back at the summer, Young said, "Summer was good. We started off going back to Linfield team camp, which we hadn't done for two years. That was probably more fun than I think I ever had up there."

Young continued, "Then we moved into summer workouts and had a much better showing than I've seen the last two summers."

It has been a challenging couple of years for St. Helens, with the pandemic not helping matters.

"The last couple of years have been pretty tough for us, the shortened season two years ago," Young said. "We missed four weeks of football last year with quarantines and things like that. We're really excited to get a full season of football in."

As to expectations this fall, Young said, "I've been talking with the kids about getting back to just competing, just playing good, hard football … what we do really depends on how we practice and how much we develop."

As with McNabb, Young says many of his players are returning.

Young spoke highly of Daniel Bennet, saying, "The kid just doesn't stop running. He got a lot of minutes last year, too."

Young also praised the efforts of Cameron Waite.

"Waite has been playing center for three years," Young said. "Cameron has been voted one of our captains."

Young looks forward to the new season.

"There's a lot of excitement about getting back to it and getting after it," he said. "We're pushing the kids hard and the kids are meeting the challenge of practice."

As with Young, McNabb remains confident going into the new season.

"We have a good group coming back," McNabb said. "I'm excited about this group. I'm an optimistic person. I know that we're going to have some battles … we still have a long way to go."

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