East Linn Loggers impressive in Jamboree opener

Wayne Spinney

For The New Era

Halvorsen Field in Eugene was the site of the East Linn Loggers successful National Nineman Football League debut. On an evening filled with well-played games, the Loggers proved that this adult football league will deliver smash mouth excitement on both sides of the ball this year.

With the Loggers opening the regular season in less than two weeks they lined up to scrimmage the iron of the league in four separate fifteen minute sessions. Head Coach Jesse Garcia finally had the opportunity to see how his charges measured up on the field of play and came away both impressed with the results and aware of his team?s strengths and flaws.

?We didn?t show all of our tricks and stuck to the basics on both offense and defense,? Garcia said. ?We knew we would need to work on blocking schemes and defensive pursuit and alignment, but for a first time effort we looked very good against some of the more veteran teams.?

The Loggers opened the night against the Springfield Wildcats and then the Veneta Outlaws, two of the more experienced teams in the league. After thirty minutes of play, in the scrimmage format, it was apparent that the Loggers could move the ball on both the ground and through the air.

?I was impressed with our quarterback play,? said Assistant Coach Bob Teter. ?They did a nice job of calling plays at the line after recognizing the defenses they faced and throwing the ball for completions down field.?

Fullback Craig Bergevin ran one up the sidelines from 30 yards out for a Loggers? touchdown and tight end Kenny Gaskey hooked up with quarterbacks Frank Whitten and Jesse Garcia for short passes and a pair of long catch and run plays. Rod Jacques and Al Minta were tenacious at linebacker while Travis Van Epps, Brad Becker and Chester Miller stuffed the run up the middle on defense.

?We did a nice job of attacking the ball,? Garcia said. ?Minta chased down the ball well on defense, Bergevin reacted to plays with some great hits and Garcia went up and took a ball away from a defender with a great catch.?

The last two scrimmages found the Loggers penultimately against the Monroe Steel and finally the purple-clad Knights from Eugene. In an impressive and literal last minute goal line stand, a solid Loggers hit forced a turnover out of the Knights. Cory Penfold scooped up the loose ball and rumbled for a would be touchdown that signaled the reality that these Loggers came to play for keeps.

?We know there are X?s and O?s to take care of and my assistant coaches did a great job of getting the team to respond on the field tonight,? Garcia said. ?I can?t hide my emotions on the sidelines either. We have some guys that are true to their word and showed it all night long!?

The Loggers open their regular season on April 24 against another first year team based in Stayton. In a league offering young men an opportunity to achieve long awaited team football goals, it was an impressive display of awe inspiring unity and hard hitting action.

For further league and team information check out their website at: http://www.eastlinnloggers.com