Huskies get early start – against powerful Sisters – Friday

Sweet Home’s football team will get an early start to the season Friday as the Huskies take on Sisters in an OSAA Endowment Game.

Coach Rob Younger said the match-up should prove to be a good learning experience for the young Huskies, who return only a small nucleus from the team that finished 4-7 after falling to Marist in the first round of the 4A state playoffs, are young but committed.

“We’re just very, very pleased with the start of the season,” Younger said after a week of two-a-days. “The players worked extremely hard in the off-season and came in in excellent shape, physically and mentally. Over the last two weeks they’ve shown a great work ethic.”

The coach said this is one of his youngest teams in terms of experience “but I’m confident we’ll be a good football team.”

Sisters, meanwhile, looks to be one of the most experienced and powerful teams in the state after going 13-1 last year, the Outlaws’ only defeat coming in a 21-14 loss to Siuslaw in the state 4A title game. Their coach, Bob Macauley, announced last Friday that he will step down after this season to concentrate on his duties as Sisters High School principal.

Senior tailback Cory McCaffrey, who as a 5-8, 180-pound junior, burned the Huskies for 228 yards and four touchdowns in last year’s opener at Sisters, set a state record of 3,335 yards rushing, easily eclipsing the previous single-season state record of 2,844 yards and placing him 21st on the nation’s all-time single-season rushing list. McCaffrey already has the state record for career rushing yards (5,498) going into his senior season.

The Outlaws also return senior quarterback Jared Hasskamp and receiver Nathan Jackson.

“They return a good nucleus from that team,” said Younger. “They’re very experienced. At this point in the season we know they’ll be way ahead of us in just being ready for the opening game in this amount of time. It’ll be a big challenge for us, which is why we scheduled it.”

He said the Huskies will approach the game as though it were a live scrimmage against another team.

“It’s part of the process of getting us ready for the league season,” he said.

Though the majority of the Huskies’ roster after the first week of practice appears to be dominated by juniors, a core of veterans is back from last year’s varsity, including Zane Wise at left tackle, Kelsey Fisher at offensive guard and tight end Josh Riggs.

“All of them come back providing leadership,” Younger said. “I’m really excited about the total team that’s coming together, having great attitudes. We’re going to go into the first game and start as many as possible to see how they do.”