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Sprague visits West Salem in CVC football matchup

1:00 AM, Sep. 21, 2012 EDT

When Jay Minyard was hired as Sprague's new head football coach, he hung two pictures in his office, one that dates back to his playing days at Western Oregon University.

In the picture with Minyard are Shawn Stanley and Damien Ramirez.

Some of the Sprague players who have come into the office have recognized Stanley and Ramirez from the photo as the coaches of West Salem's football team.

"The minute I put those up some of the kids recognized those opposing coaches as the enemy," Minyard said.

The teams who shared the Central Valley Conference championship a year ago play on West Salem's black FieldTurf at 7 p.m. tonight in the league opener.

Minyard is friends with Stanley and Ramirez 51 weeks out of the year. That friendship will resume next week.

"I want him to win every game except this week," Stanley said.

Stanley, in his eighth year as head coach as West Salem (2-1 overall), has deep connections with Sprague (3-0 overall).

Stanley played for recently departed Sprague head coach Robin Hill in 1988 and was a star quarterback and linebacker for the team. After college he was an assistant coach at Sprague until moving over to West Salem when the school opened in 2002.

"Regardless of what he says he was the arm of the Olympians in 1988," Minyard said. "All you got to do is ask Robin."

There are two members of Sprague's coaching staff, Kary Hadden and Brian Champion, who were on Sprague's staff back when Stanley was an assistant coach there.

Sprague defensive coordinator Ty Tomlin formerly was an assistant coach at West Salem under Stanley. Ramirez was the defensive coordinator for Minyard when he was head coach at North Salem.

A year ago, Sprague's signature win was a 19-13 victory against West Salem in the regular season finale to end the Titans' 14-game conference winning streak and split the league championship between the teams.

"I think maybe this year they're kind of the hunted and we're the hunter," Stanley said. "We're maybe more of the underdog role, which is fine with me."

In each of the Olympians' wins, including last week's 35-14 win against Mountain View, Sprague has started slowly and finished well.

Against Mountain View, quarterback Jon Schaub threw four second-half touchdown passes. Minyard said the protection from the offensive line and from Devvon Gage at running back improved in the second half.

Two of those touchdown passes were to Sprague senior receiver Austin Johnson, who has four touchdowns this season and has caught touchdown pass in each of the Olympians' past five games.

"We're outconditioning people," said Sprague senior lineman Connor Astley. "It's that fourth quarter where we kill them.

"We start slow first quarter, third quarter, but second quarter, fourth quarter, even the end of the third quarter we're really, that's where we start moving, we start going."

West Salem has a distinct size advantage at tackle with seniors Matt Sommer and William VanSmoorenburg - they are 6-foot-5, 290 pounds and 6-4, 265 respectively - but Stanley said that beyond those two linemen West Salem's linemen are about the same size as Sprague's.

Offensively, West Salem has been led by senior receiver Cody Oden, who has caught 23 passes for 326 yards and three touchdowns. Senior running back Ambrose Soh has 197 yards and two touchdowns on 31 carries.

Sophomore Cade Smith has emerged at quarterback and is 30 for 42 passing for 388 yards and four touchdowns against three interceptions and has rushed for 182 yards and three touchdowns.

"They're a very well-rounded team," said Sprague receiver/cornerback John Marshall. "They've got lots of speed, especially their offense, they take what the defense gives them.

"I think on the defensive side of the ball we have to stay disciplined. We can't fall in any traps. They may get a couple yards here and there, but we have to stick to our game plan."

Sprague has, as expected, been led by Schaub, who is 47 of 71 passing for 645 yards and 11 touchdowns against one interception.

West Salem and Sprague go back to non-league games next week - the Olympians host Grant and the Titans travel to Lincoln - while the rest of the Central Valley Conference will be back in league play.

Tonight the teams come together in the biggest game of the year so far.




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