The New Era - All about Sweet Home since 1929

Huskies name Jake Swanson football's Most Valuable Player


November 28, 2018

Jake Swanson was named Most Valuable Player for the Sweet Home football team at its awards dinner Tuesday, Nov. 20.

Although Swanson was named the overall MVP, it was clear that fellow senior Nathan Virtue also rated highly in their teammates’ eyes, as Virtue was named both Offensive MVP and Defensive MVP by the team.

In presenting the MVP award, Assistant Coach Brent Gaskey cited Swanson’s “quiet” leadership and stabilizing influence for the Huskies, who went undefeated in their Oregon West League debut, with a 6-3 record, the first and last of those losses coming at the hands of Marist.

Swanson was the Huskies’ third-leading receiver as a tight end, with 12 catches in nine games, and was the second-leading tackler, with 30 solo tackles.

“He was just our rock this year,” Gaskey said, adding that Swanson was “very coachable.”

“When he went on the field, there was a collective sigh, everything was going to be all right.

We wouldn’t have had the year we did without Jake.”

Virtue was Sweet Home’s leading receiver this season with 31 catches in nine games for 665 yards – a 21.45-yard average per catch. He finishes his Sweet Home career fifth all-time for the Huskies in receiving yards (1,035), fourth in career receptions (55) and third in single-season receiving yards, Assistant Coach Ryan Adams said.

“He was very consistent,” Adams said. “We knew what kind of effort, what kind of play we were going to get. day in and day out.”

Noting Virtue’s places in the record book, he added “obviously, he’s a great player.”

On defense, Virtue was the leading tackler with 40 for the season, 31 of them unassisted, one forced fumble and three recovered fumbles.

Offensive Linemen of the Year, introduced by Assistant Coach Jay Horner, were Noah Moore and Austin Olin.

Olin was absent, but Horner noted that Moore was a “quiet-type leader who always got things right and demands respect from the rest of his teammates.”

Moore joined the offensive line as a sophomore after trying “just about every other position,” Horner said, adding that Moore worked “tremendously” from that point on and “it paid off for him.”

Defensive Linemen of the Year, introduced by Assistant Coach Cory Warren, were Levi Baird and Hayden McDonald.

“When you say ‘Work hard to earn your spot,’ that is what he has done,” Warren said of Baird. “He got passed by underclassmen on his way up, but he put his foot to the metal this year and decided he was going to do that.”

He recalled that he gave McDonald his first chance two years ago at a playoff game at Marshfield, in which the Huskies were trailing badly.

“I was looking for a little excitement and spark,” Warren said. “He didn’t really know where to go, but he went there at about 900 mph.”

McDonald was also named Offensive Best Back after leading the team with 592 yards on 117 carries in nine games – an average of just over five yards a carry.

Adams called McDonald a “fierce competitor” who “won a lot of ballgames for us.”

Defensive Best Back was Swanson, who, Adams said, was a “great kid” who was a “great leader “ for the Huskies.

Practice Player of the Year was senior Parker Lemmer, who was “brutalized” in practice as a running back and defensive back on the scout team, Nichol said.

But, he added, “The kids loved having him out them. They keyed on him in love.”

He said he wondered what Lemmer was doing when he would crane his neck in an odd way as he went out for swing passes in practice.

He discovered that Lemmer was blind in one eye, which proved to be an advantage, he said, when they were shooting clay pigeons at Nichol’s house and Lemmer ended up battling Noah Moore for the No. 1 position.

“The thing that was most impressive for me was he didn’t get to play a lot, but he worked his everloving butt off. He did everything he could to get better. He went out for wrestling. He played other sports. He was a joy to be around.”

Senior Lance Hanson was named Most Improved.

“If you guys could have seen him from camp in previous years till right now, it’s been amazing, fun to watch,” Adams said. “I love coaching him. I’m excited to see where life takes him in future years.”

Senior Hayden Nichol, who suffered a season-ending injury in the third game of the season, was named Most Inspirational Player.

“Most Inspirational can manifest itself in a lot of different ways,” said Gaskey, who presented the award.

He noted how a promising season was cut short for Nichol, which happens in football.

Despite that, he said, Nichol was still on the field every day and “did everything he could to support the team. He provided a lot of leadership, always a positive influence.”

He said other players were inspired to try harder, knowing that Nichol “wishes he was out here right now.”

Seven players were honored with the Dick Reynolds Award, given to players who “bring their lunchbox to work,” as Dustin Nichols put it, who “set a goal to make myself better and make the team better.”

“This goes to guys that this monsters would not work without those individuals putting out 100 percent,” he said, adding that “a lot of guys whose name I read off would start for other teams in our league.”

Honorees were seniors Boe Baxter and Austin Olin, and juniors Sevin Carson, Iakona Howerton, David McMullen, Gavin Nichols and Casey Tow.

Fourth-year letter winners were Hayden Nichol and Jake Swanson.

Third-year letters went to Levi Baird, Boe Baxter, Lance Hanson, Johnny Lynn, Hayden McDonald, Noah Moore, Austin Olin, Damion Shocker, Colton Smith, Nathan Virtue and Robby Yunke.

Second-year lettermen were Sevin Carson, Paul Glynn, Iakona Howerton, Caden Knight, Jasper Korn, Parker Lemmer, David McMullen, Tye Moore, Gavin Nichols, Travis Thorpe, Casey Tow and Dominick Tuttle.

First-year letters went to Dax Ballinger, Cole Baxter, Kai Bryson, Isaiah Davis, Cade Gaskey, Kolton Hanson, Ryan Huss, Marc Kanngiesser, Colin Owens, Isaac Schaffer, Owen Towry, Aiden Tyler, Peyton Ullrich and Kyle Willhite.


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