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Tualatin quarterback Jack Wagner waited two years to be the Timberwolves' full-time starter.

PMG PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Tualatin quarterback Jack Wagner scrambles from the pocket during the Timberwolves' game against Summit Friday, Sept. 2, at Tualatin High School.Jack Wagner has waited two years to again do something he'd done for most of his life — play quarterback.

The Tualatin senior spent his sophomore and the bulk of his junior seasons sitting behind Timberwolves standout Jackson Jones, but now it's Wagner's turn, and the senior plans to make the most of the year and with the team he's been waiting to lead.

"Waiting behind Jackson, it wasn't the worst because I kind of expected it going in," Wagner said. "But I've been a quarterback since the third grade, and I feel like I'm kind of a natural leader, so it wasn't easy."

It's not as if the 6-foot-3 strong-armed athlete has been sitting idle, as last year — in addition to starting two games in place of an injured Jones — Wagner started at safety for a Tualatin team that shared a Three Rivers League championship and made it all the way to the state championship game before losing to Central Catholic.

This season, however, and despite earning decorations on defense, it's behind center that he hopes to make his biggest mark.

"It definitely helped being out there playing defense," Wagner said, "but I love the control you have of the game playing quarterback and I feel like I can kind of do it all back there."

Wagner of course understands that he can't do it all and that the sport of football is the ultimate team game, which is why he has such an appreciation for his teammates.

Last year's Tualatin team was comprised of a number of senior leaders, a handful of whom are playing at the collegiate level this year. Because of that, this year's team is built a bit differently, and Wagner is excited for the challenge of the new group.

"It's obviously different being one of the seniors now," the quarterback said. "I think last year, we only had like three or four non-seniors that started on both sides of the ball. This year, having a young group behind us and learning as we go, it's a lot different, but cool."

The Timberwolves also have a new coach this season after former head coach Dan Lever took the head coaching job at Silverton High School. First-year Forest Grove High School head coach Dominic Ferraro is now walking the sidelines at Tualatin.

Wagner said the transition has been good, and he loves the offense the Wolves' new coach brought with him.

PMG PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Tualatin quarterback Jack Wagner takes off running during the Timberwolves' game against Summit Friday, Sept. 2, at Tualatin High School. Wagner is starting this season after waiting two years behind Jackson Jones."I love the new offense," Wagner said. "It's quite a bit different with the schemes, the tempo is a lot quicker and there's a lot more passing, but with the run mixed in."

Wagner also said he's been happy with Coach Ferraro because he's demanding, but at the same time understands it's about having fun as well.

"He's chill, but he holds you accountable," he said. "He wants you to be focused, but he also wants you to have fun."

Tualatin defeated a quality Summit team 19-12 in last week's season opener, and Wagner finished the game 17-for-23 for 237 yards and three touchdowns. But while it was a good start to the quarterback's senior campaign, it was also an impressive defensive effort and a solid debut for an offensive line that's young, but also very talented.

"A lot of people think our line isn't going to be good," Wagner said, "but I think people are going to be really surprised by them."

Wagner had a lot of good things to say about his team. He went as far as to say he believes that despite the loss of a number of really talented players from last year's squad, he believes this year's team can have an equal — if not greater — level of success.

"I really do think it's realistic," he said. "I think with how young we are, we're only going to get better over time. So, I think once league play hits, we'll probably be one of the best teams in the state, if not the best."

Wagner already committed to attend and play football at the University of Idaho next school year, but before he graduates and moves on to college, he has a few things he'd like to accomplish at Tualatin.

"I do want to set some school records," Wagner said. "That's always a goal of mine, and I think I have a good chance of that this year. But at the same time, I'll do whatever it takes just to win the game, because I'd rather win than set a record."

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