Cottage Grove, Ore. -- Oregon high school football starts a little later than some areas of the country, but August 19th is finally here and with it comes the first day of fall camp in the prep world.
KEZI 9 Sports' Two-A-Day series sponsored by Abby's Pizza continues at Cottage Grove High School.
"I Got the call July 5th and then I've been here kind of the week after that," recalls Cottage Grove head football coach Chad Smith. "...Talking to players as we've done some workouts and trying to hire assistant coaches cause a lot of the guys left so it's been crazy."
Indeed it's been a whirlwind summer for Cottage Grove football and their new head coach Chad Smith. Gary Roberts left the Lions after 11 years, and then their next hire Jordan Johnson, left before coaching a game to take a job at Sheldon. So it fell to Smith to continue the Lion legacy.
"There' a few different wrinkles that we're gonna put in," Smith continues. "But for the most part everything is still the same so our guys know what to do and how that needs to be done."
And for the senior class, who were a part of a 4A state champion team in 2017, it's about taking the lessons from those years and imparting them onto the younger guys.
"Winning that really opened my eyes to how good we could be," says Jacob Dunn, a senior who was a part of the 2017 title team. "With that comes hard work and we just gotta show it to them so they'll follow the leader."
Even if they're a bit on the younger side.
"We're pertty young everywhere but wide receiver corps," Dunn mentions. "The whole line is pretty much new but 1 or 2 seniors. And our quarterback, he's learning but once he gets dialed in we'll be pretty alright."
At that QB spot, the Lions will be replacing two year starter Dylan Graves, who was the 2018 Sky-Em League offensive player of the year.
"A lot of the guys are gonna be new varsity football players," Smith says. "I've talked to some of the returners and so we're gonna have a good idea of who we are, who we're gonna be and what we need to work on."
One thing is for sure...the Lions will be aiming to keep the tradition of excellence going heading into 2019.