Grizzlies grow stronger over summer workouts
Monday, the gloves come on.
The helmets will follow. And the shoulder pads. Two weeks from today, the full uniform will be tried on for size.
Monday marks the official first day of practice for fall high school sports in Oregon, and the McMinnville football team has put in the work, according to what second-year head coach Robin Hill has seen, to hit the ground running.
“I think we’ve improved leaps and bounds from last year,” Hill said. “We’re running twice as many plays (in workouts) as last year. The kids are more familiar with the system and the expectations.”
Approximately 60 football players attended Mac High’s summer camp, and Hill said that Grizzlies have shown up in similar numbers to weight-room sessions. Opportunity abounds as McMinnville seeks to replace seven starters on offense, six on defense and both specialists.
Expected contributors are largely healthy, although the fate of senior running back/linebacker Cameron Fox is in doubt. Fox, whom Hill considered “probably our best all-around athlete,” has not fully recovered from a shoulder ailment carried through three sports in the 2013-14 academic year. Whether he can play for the Grizzlies, let alone how much, is yet to be determined; Hill said there is no timetable on a decision.
The Grizzlies kick off the season Sept. 5 at 7 p.m. in Wortman Stadium against West Salem, a newly anointed league opponent in the Class 6A Greater Valley Conference. The week before, Mac players will engage in live football against Class 5A Corvallis and Class 6A Portland Interscholastic League member Benson in a jamboree.
OSAA schools have reintroduced jamborees in response to the high school governing body’s requirement of three weeks of fall practices, according to The Oregonian. McMinnville, Yamhill-Carlton, Amity, Dayton, Sheridan and Willamina are all slated to participate in jamborees on Aug. 29 against one or more teams.
“I just like the fact that you get to play in a game format versus someone other than yourself,” Hill said.
Hill expects the McMinnville jamboree – scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at Wortman Stadium – will follow a format in which each school gets 12 offensive plays against the other opponents. Hill said the Grizzlies will negotiate with the other schools about playing junior varsity squads in the jamboree; varsity teams would occupy one-half of the field, and JV squads would occupy the other half.
“We’re not going to really go for a super-long time, but we’ll get a chance to evaluate the kids,” Hill said. “There are certain people I see touch the ball.”