Warriors set to bring it home

Optimism was riding high in Siletz during a Labor Day practice where the Warriors worked-out with tackling drills and a 1,000-lb. blocking sled. At a football jamboree in Lowell, Siletz unveiled an imposing front line, a tested quarterback and the confidence of a veteran team. (Photo by Rick Beasley)

SILETZ — Robbed of a key home game for the 2019 season, the Warriors are determined to catch a playoff berth in their tough-as-nails eight-man league.

“When Crow dropped down to six-man, we were left with only two home games,” said head coach Reggie Butler Jr., who asserted this year’s football team may be the best to hit the natural grass at Siletz Valley since the school was reopened 12 years ago. “The only way we’ll get a third game is with a playoff, and we really want to give our fans that game.”

Optimism was riding high this week after the Warriors returned from a jamboree last Thursday at Lowell, where they unveiled an imposing front line, a tested quarterback and the confidence of a veteran team.

“We didn’t do too bad against some of the top-ranked teams in the state,” recalled Butler, who worked-out jamboree mistakes with tackling drills and a 1,000-pound blocking sled on Labor Day.

Siletz lost only two seniors from last year’s squad, a resurgent Warrior team that bounced back from a winless 2017 season to go 4-3 in 2018. With 18 young men on the 2019 roster — a record turnout — Butler is looking to a core group of seasoned players to drive deep into the 1A finals.

Former backup quarterback Anthony Simmons will be steering the offense behind a solid roster of experienced linemen, including four-year starter Isaac Hansen, a “workhorse” center and middle linebacker who serves as one of the team’s leaders. Other key linemen include 260-pound wrestler Kenneth Johnston; 270-pound senior Bradlee Robertson; and Jonathan Duarte, a 240-pound transfer from Toledo.

Behind this menacing wall of muscle will be QB Simmons, Joshley Howell, a 240-pound running back, and tailback Tanner Clark, an experienced junior.

“We have some pretty big linemen, so we’re hoping to get in some good ground and pound,” Butler reasoned. “We’ve never had them so big before. But Anthony can throw, and we have receivers who can catch, so we’re going to mix it up.”

Siletz opens the football season Friday night, Sept. 6, at Lowell (located west of Eugene) in a non-league game. Its home games are slated Oct. 4, against St. Paul, and Oct. 18, versus Mohawk.

The promised home play-off will be announced at the end of the season.

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