Head coach T.J. Tomlin pleased with the energy and focus of his team at NHS' annual preseason team camp

A year ago, Kasey Fish was unable to play for the Newberg football team because of a shoulder injury.

Unable to just watch his teammates practice and play, Fish chose instead to go out for water polo.

“I couldn’t sit on the sideline,” Fish said. “I had to compete somewhere.”Photo Credit: SETH GORDON - Getting started - Head coach T.J. Tomlin instructs attendees at the annual NHS preseason football camp last week at Loran Douglas Field.

Last week, Fish was back on the field with his teammates, as eager as anybody to get back to football with Newberg’s annual preseason team camp.

“Water polo was good to compete, but football has been my life since third grade,” he said. “I’m so excited.”

Head coach T.J. Tomlin said the team laid a good foundation at the North Bend team camp in late July, where the Tigers practiced twice a day, played two scrimmages and participated in a 7-on-7 passing league each day. Aside from a slow start to the first session of camp, he said he has liked what he saw from his team last week.

“We’ve been really high energy, so it’s been really good,” Tomlin said. “The kids have been getting after it, getting better every day. They’re really excited and they’re ready. We have a lot of work to do, but they’re excited about the season already and ready to rock and roll.”

In addition to drilling on fundamentals and getting as many reps as possible on both sides of the ball, Tomlin is also trying to prepare the team mentally.

“We’re trying to instill our whole philosophy of being quick, tough and smart,” senior lineman Matt Springer said. “That’s how you win football games and that’s what we’re trying to get in our heads.”

The team will be mentally and physically tested as it moves into the reconfigured Three Rivers League, which features a veritable murderer’s row of state powerhouses. Joining the league along with Newberg will be former Pacific Conference powers Tigard and Tualatin, as well as 5A juggernaut Sherwood. And that’s not to mention Three Rivers stalwarts Lake Oswego, West Linn, Canby and Lakeridge.

“In order for them to be as successful as they want to be, they’re going to have to show up to meetings, study on their own and be at every practice because that’s the kind of competition we’re going to see,” Tomlin said. “If you don’t show up and get better now, you’re going to get passed up by these other teams. We have to bring our game up.”

The team has three weeks of practices to continue preparing, including a three-way scrimmage jamboree with Canby at Barlow Aug. 29, before opening the season at home versus 5A Crescent Valley Sept. 5.

“We’re going to be in one of the toughest leagues in the state and we’re ready to take it on,” Fish said. “Every game is going to be a fight and every win people are going to open their eyes more and more. As long as we keep winning, people are going to notice us and it will be a good year.”

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