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Vikings host football jamboree


Forest Grove prepares for its season opener with some full-contact exhibition contests

Photo Credit: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD - Forest Grove senior wide receiver Cody Fletcher tries to break free from Liberty's Byron Greenlee during a preseason jamboree held at Forest Grove High School on Saturday.The prep football season may not officially get under way until this Friday, but Forest Grove got a jump on things by hosting a jamboree last weekend, playing full-contact scrimmages against Liberty and Hillsboro.

The preseason contests, which also included Tualatin, were a good way for the Vikings to get some live game experience before opening the season at home on Friday against David Douglas.

“Seeing your best against somebody else’s best, that’s something you can’t simulate in practice,” Forest Grove head coach Dwight Jensen said. “I was pleased with how our guys played and how we handled the speed of the scrimmage.

“Overall, in terms of the whole picture, I thought it went really well. This is the most physical we’ve been as a group since probably 2010.”

The scrimmages were formatted to give each team 18 offensive snaps starting at the 35-yard line, followed by 18 defensive snaps. The Vikings played one of those series against Hilhi and two against Liberty. The JV and freshman teams also faced Tualatin.

No scores were kept and Jensen said only basic statistics were tracked. Forest Grove scored three touchdowns during its offensive snaps, with fullback Doug Deleon scoring on a pair of runs — one a long draw play and the other a short plunge off tackle — and quarterback Taylor Jensen connecting with wideout Cam Kemper for a 35-yard touchdown pass. Defensively, junior cornerback Ezykio Aleman had an interception for the Vikings.

While the scrimmages won’t count toward the Vikings’ win-loss record this season, they were instrumental in helping the team tune up for Friday’s opener against David Douglas as well as their Week 2 clash with West Salem, which comes into the season ranked No. 7 in the Class 6A state media poll.

“This game (against David Douglas) is going to be a really good test for us, then we start league play against the team that’s favored to win it this year,” Jensen said of West Salem, the preseason pick to top the field in the new Greater Valley Conference, which includes Forest Grove, McKay, McNary, McMinnville, North Salem, South Salem, West Salem and Sprague.

“The level of play is going to get ramped up here over the next two weeks.”

Forest Grove has 14 seniors on the roster this season, and all are expected to contribute at the varsity level. Beyond that, some younger and more inexperienced players will need to step up to replace 16 graduated seniors from last year’s squad.

“We’re really young again this year,” Jensen said. “We’ve got a lot of juniors out on the field and we have two sophomores who are probably going to start for us.”

Among the expected leaders this season for Forest Grove will be Kemper and Deleon, both seniors, plus Taylor Jensen, a 6-foot-5 junior with two years of starting experience at quarterback. The other returning upperclassmen have helped ease the learning curve for the Vikings this fall.

“We had everything installed by the time the second week of doubles was finished,” Dwight Jensen said. “We know what we’re doing, we just need to sharpen some things up. There are a lot of little things that we still need to work on, but overall I feel like we’re ready.”

The Vikings will host David Douglas at 7 p.m. on Friday. Photo Credit: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD - Forest Grove defensive back Tobias King lunges to make a tackle on Liberty running back Devin Kaneshiro during Saturday's jamboree.

Elsewhere, both Banks and Gaston will open the prep football season on the road, with the Braves traveling to face North Marion and Gaston visiting Willamina. Both games are set for 7 p.m. kickoffs on Friday.

Banks is coming off an outstanding 2013 season that included a Cowapa League championship, and the Braves will also have to adjust to a slightly new-look conference, with Valley Catholic replacing Yamhill-Carlton as the league’s sixth member.

Gaston will once again be a member of the Northwest League, which retains Knappa, Nestucca, Neah-Kah-Nie and Vernonia, but loses perennial power Portland Christian, which moved up to Class 3A this season.

For a complete preview of those local football teams, plus volleyball, cross-country and boys and girls soccer, please pick up a copy of next week’s Fall Sports Preview.