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New Season, New Team. The Southridge Skyhawks are Ready for Friday Night Lights

The Skyhawks kick off their season this Friday with two important goals, an improved mentality, and a new quarterback under center.

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TIMES PHOTO: MILES VANCE

TIMES PHOTO: MILES VANCE

TIMES PHOTO: MILES VANCE

Kyle Pinnell

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Fall. The season of back to school, meeting new people, and most importantly, the start of football season.

Last Friday night the Southridge Skyhawks kicked off their season with a Jamboree where they played against Silverton and Wilsonville to get ready for the Metro League season.

“A Jamboree is a great way to kind of get a pre-game warm-up heading into game one so that you feel like you’ve gotten into a situation where you’ve already practiced what you do before a game, and it was a game type atmosphere,” Southridge Skyhawks Head Varsity Football Coach, Kevin Bickler, said. “That was the biggest goal, and I think our kids handled that really well heading in and they treated it just like any other Friday night.”

The main goal of the Jamboree for the Skyhawks was to go through their basic plays, get the first team on the field for a few possessions, and give younger players an opportunity to get a few snaps.

One of the points that the Skyhawks emphasized during the afternoon was working together as a team in an actual game situation where they could see how they might react against an opposing defense.

The biggest takeaway for Bickler was the physicality that the team played with and how it successfully carried over from the practice field to an actual game. Bickler even claims that this is the most physical football team that the Hawks have had in the last five years.

The physicality of the Hawks doesn’t change the game plan, but it makes them a much more challenging opponent to prepare for.

On defense, the pursuit and getting to the ball is what makes the difference. The physical mindset within the team gives Bickler the ability to have certain personnel on the field that can attack the gaps in the line and play downhill. On offense that edge gives the team the opportunity to attack certain players on opposing teams, block on the perimeter, and get more yards after the catch.

The physicality that this team possesses is a team mentality that starts from the top with the upperclassmen. Bickler said that it encourages younger players to become more physical after they see the older guys being physical as well.

The Skyhawks come into the season with many goals, but none are bigger than taking a one game at a time approach and staying healthy. Right now, the only game that the team is concerned about is their season opener against Tualatin this Friday.

“Start looking ahead and you’re going to lose a game,” Bickler said.

The Southridge football program also doesn’t have a ton of numbers, so staying healthy is very important for the team.

“Our younger guys are going to have to grow up really fast because they’re going to have to contribute to the team,” Bickler said.

This season, Junior, Darik Salinas, will be the starting varsity quarterback, replacing graduate Bradley Bickler. Despite getting some playing time at the varsity level last year, this will be Salinas’ first year as the full-time starter.

“He’s done a great job. He’s smart, he’s got a great attitude, he hustles, and we changed our offense this year to build it around the type of style of a kid like him,” Bickler said. “He’s really impressed me with his accuracy and his decision making, so I think that he’s going to have a really strong year.”

The Skyhawks will not play their first home game until week three against the Sunset Apollos with their first two games coming on the road again the Tualatin Timberwolves and Lincoln Cardinals respectively.

One thing Salinas wants to see is the team cohesion grow even more before the Hawks play their first home game on September 14th.

“Last year we had a lot of individuals who were good and we weren’t really good as a team. This year the bonding stuff that we have been doing has been helping u a lot,” Salinas said.

“If you do the little things: play with first class, play physical, execute, don’t turn the ball over, those are gonna turn into wins,” Bickler added.

When the Skyhawks take the field against Sunset, they will be looking to achieve their first home win under Bickler. Last season the Hawks went 0-4 at home in the regular season. However, Bickler believes that they had the toughest games on their schedule at home last season where they had to host Jesuit and Tigard.

“One of our goals that we talked about throughout the summer was to win at home,” Bickler said. Winning at home creates better school culture, more attendance at games, and more kids want to come out for football.”

“Home games are always the most fun games to win and our first home game this year is against Sunset. We have the after game dance as well, so that’s just hyping it up,” Salinas added.

Along with not winning a single home game last season, the Hawks haven’t won their annual Andrew J. Keller Memorial Game during its existence. This season, that game will be played against the Mountainside Mavericks who will be making their first trip to Southridge.

The most pivotal stretch of the Skyhawks season this year will come on the road in weeks seven and eight when they play Jesuit on October twelfth and Beaverton on October nineteenth.

“I hope we are in position, a good position, to be able to compete for a league title by the time we come up to play Jesuit,” Bickler said. “Those two games could be set up as very significant games in terms of playoff position, but again, we have to take a one-game approach in order to be able to be in that position.”

Will the Skyhawks be in position to compete for the Metro League title come October? Only time will tell, but as Bickler said, the Skyhawks can not look too far into the future; they must take it one game at a time.

However, for week one against Tualatin, how do they want to start the season?

“With a win,” Salinas said.

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New Season, New Team. The Southridge Skyhawks are Ready for Friday Night Lights