by: TIMES PHOTO: JOHN LARIVIERE -  North team defensive linemen Garrett Stauffer (left) from Sam Barlow High School and Tyler Cox from Southridge High School hold off the rush from Hunter Hermansen of North Medford.

Frankly, Southridge’s season didn’t live up to its own towering expectations.

A team that in the preseason openly talked about winning a 6A state championship and possessed an overabundance of talent to back those statements, the Skyhawks fell short of their lofty predictions, dropping a 28-20 second round decision to Lakeridge.

The loss left a bitter taste in the mouths of many a Southridge player, including the ultra-competitive Tyler Cox and Alex Beekman. Six months later, in fact, the lingering defeat still stings.

Yet, to Beekman, high school football was about getting closer to your teammates, making friends and having as much fun as possible. Winning games was icing on the cake. And, Southridge still had a comparably great season, reeling off five straight wins at one point to finish second in Metro.

“This season was obviously disappointing because we didn’t do as well as had wanted, but in the end we had fun,” said Beekman. “I think we all got to know each other. The whole year at Southridge our mantra was ‘Brotherhood’, and I feel like I made a lot of brothers on the team. There’s not much I could ask for.”

“I made a lot of memories with the guys,” added Cox. “I have some brothers for life now just from the four years at Southridge.”

Cox and Beekman represented Southridge at the Les Schwab Bowl on Saturday, with Cox helping open holes for the North’s running backs and Beekman tacking on extra points and booting a 30-yard field goal that gave the North an early 10-0 lead. Teaming up with some of their former Metro enemies such as Beaverton’s Grant Johnson and Jesuit’s Charlie Landgraf on the North squad and banding together to dethrone the South, 31-21, was a little eerie at first, Cox said. But, with a week of practice and team activities including visiting sick children at the Providence Medical Center, the Metro rivals quickly united.

“I hated these guys six months ago and now we’re like best friends,” said Cox. “It’s been an awesome week, but it’s definitely been more than football that’s made it fun. Meeting all the guys and getting to know them has been great.”

“When we played Aloha I kicked off to (Maurice McSwain) and the whole time we were like ‘Kick it away from him, don’t let him make plays’,” said Beekman. “Now, we’re on the same team. Now, I want him to get the ball so he can score. It’s kind of weird, having the change of perspective, but it’s all fun.”

Cox went to Utah State’s football camp last summer “not expecting much”, but the all-Metro selection started making plays all over the field and dominating in the same manner he did for the Skyhawks. The Aggies offered Cox a spot on the roster as preferred walk-on, as did the University of Oregon.

Cox chose USU because he “liked the atmosphere better” as well as the tradition and culture around the Aggie program. A versatile, athletic offensive lineman who was also a state wrestler as a senior, Cox will play at center for the Aggies.

“I’ve always liked leading the group,” said Cox. “That’ll be fun. I was very talkative at Southridge on the line, always making calls. It won’t be that different, so I’m excited.”

by: TIMES PHOTO: JOHN LARIVIERE - North team kicker Alex Beekman from Southridge High School kicks the extra point following Maurice McSwains pass interception touchdown late in the fourth quarter.

Beekman is kicking for Pacific University and possibly playing wide receiver next season. A former youth soccer player who started playing football in seventh grade, Beekman was willing do what it took to help the team and get on the field for the Skyhawks, whether it was lining up at wide receiver or crushing touchback kicks out of the end zone.

“My coaches told me if I kept working I could do something with kicking,” said Beekman. “I kept working out and working hard. It got me to where I am right now.”

Getting recruiting looks as a kicker isn’t much different than say quarterback or wide receiver. The second-team all-state pick went to camps and combines showcasing the strength and accuracy of his right leg and hooked Pacific’s attention after a stellar senior season.

The difference between being a skill position player or lineman and kicker, however, comes to scholarships. Scholarship money isn’t doled out as freely to kickers, so initially athletes like Beekman must walk on to the team for the love of the game. Plus, Pacific has a renowned physical therapy program that attracted Beekman’s notice when it came to deciding schools.

“I just wanted a spot on the team,” said Beekman. “I decided to go a little bit smaller because football isn’t all that high on my priority list. The school along with football was sort of the perfect match.”

Kicking in college comes with a lot pressure to perform, Beekman said, but it comes with the territory and the nature of football.

“You just have to take it in stride,” said Beekman. “You have to know if you’re put in a situation and your team trusts you enough to make the play, then you have to make it happen.”

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