Despite losses, ex-Loggers coach says, team experience worth it

Sean C. Morgan

Of The New Era

East Linn Loggers Coach Jesse Garcia may not have won a championship in his four years as coach. This last season may have been winless, but it in no way diminishes what he thinks of this year’s team.

He’s proud of his Loggers, period.

“I got an affirmation yesterday,” Garcia said. He received a call from the Oregon Outlaws, a team that jumped from the Loggers’ nine-man league to an 11-man league; and he was offered a job.

He asked why, he said. His team didn’t win any games this year.

He was told, “I’m not looking for a scoreboard. I’m looking for the way you run your program,” Garcia said. “It’s not about the scoreboard. It’s not about the wins and losses. It’s not even about football.”

It’s about friendship, camaraderie and relationships, Garcia said. It’s about team, family and giving a guy a hand up, and with all of that, they get to play some football too.

Football is just the hook, Garcia said.

In the bigger cities, football is about stars and individuals, Garcia said. Not so out here in rural Oregon. Out here, it’s old-school.

“We still hold to family, God and community,” Garcia said, and that’s what this league is trying to promote, small-town, old-school football.

The Loggers exemplified all of this, this year, he said. This team faced adversity on and off the field. Injuries plagued the Loggers this year, and hardly anyone played the same position from game to game. Off the field, two Loggers were dealing with cancer.

In the last game, the Loggers had a 6-0 lead, and that growing hope they would get a win against the Power Valley Sharks on June 23 at Lebanon, Garcia said. That’s when Jesse Garcia Jr., who was filling in at quarterback, was injured. The Sharks won 40-6.

“That’s the way it went this year,” Garcia said, but that didn’t get his team down. His Loggers “were up” before and after every game.

Their goal was to play for cancer victim Justin Terherst and later Bob Teter, a cancer victim and founding member of the Loggers team, Garcia said. “Win, lose or draw, there’s two guys that would absolutely kill to be on the field.”

Knowing that kept the Loggers going all year, Garcia said. Garcia’s son, Jesse Garcia Jr., came back to play this year expressly for the purpose of playing for Terherst. He wasn’t going to play because he was getting married this summer.

After his injury in the Loggers’ final game, Garcia said, his son gave a pep talk. He told his team that everyone that was there deserved to be there. They were “real men” sticking it out through a rough season when any of them could have said, “enough,” and quit.

“That hit it right on the head,” Garcia said. “I was extremely proud. We didn’t win any games. I don’t care. We had fun. We put in a season.”

And they have the right perspective, Garcia said.

He said he is talking to a couple of individuals about taking over the head coach position, he said. He talked to several players, and they are interested in assistant coach positions but not being head coach.

If one of the men he’s speaking to right now doesn’t take the job, Garcia and Pete Machecek, the league manager, will look elsewhere together.

The team isn’t under the gun to get a new coach on board yet, Garcia said. Tryouts run from October to December, so he is hoping to have a new coach on board by September.

On the field, Garcia thinks the Loggers might have a big year next year. A number of new and experienced players are talking about returning or joining the team, he said.