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Crater’s Jordahl embraces rare opportunity at Les Schwab Bowl

Amid what could be considered an extremely chaotic time in Jimmy Jordahl’s life, the 17-year-old Crater High junior has done well to remain composed.

Fresh off a fourth-place showing in the Oregon Wrestling Association’s Class 5A state tournament for the Comets this past Saturday in Cottage Grove, Jordahl found himself in the car again and up in the Portland area to train for this weekend’s Les Schwab Bowl.

The 73rd playing of the all-star invitational, which features the top football large-school players in the state, will take place at 6 p.m. Saturday at Linfield University in McMinnville.

“I haven’t been home at all it feels like,” Jordahl said with a laugh of his whirlwind week. “I came home for a night to see family and then hit the road the next morning.

“It’s funky going from wrestling to football that fast. The technique and type of aggression and the muscles you use, everything is just different, but I’m in shape so it’s not as hard as some people have it.”

The fact that the 6-foot-4, 215-pound two-sport standout is gearing up for the all-star football game is already an unusual circumstance.

Typically a senior showcase, the Les Schwab Bowl has opted to allow play by underclassmen for the first time in the event’s history.

“I was kind of shocked when I learned that I was going to get to play,” said Jordahl. “Everybody looks at me kind of funky when I tell them I’m a junior. I look a lot older than I am, I guess.”

Saturday’s game will also feature more of Southern Oregon’s finest in graduated seniors Devin Bradd of North Medford, Jalen Steadmon of South Medford and Dawson Douglas of Crater.

Former Black Tornado head coach Steve Turner, who stepped down after the spring season and was recently replaced by Nathan Chin, will serve as an assistant coach for Thurston’s Justin Starck, who will serve as the South team head coach.

Bradd (5-10, 210) rushed for 1,035 yards and 12 touchdowns on 161 carries in six games this spring to lead all running backs in Southern Oregon, while Douglas (6-1, 190) was the area’s top receiver with 47 catches for 584 yards and seven TDs and Steadmon (6-5, 310) helped pave the way on the offensive line for a Panther crew that averaged 306 yards and 32 points per game.

To be surrounded by such talent has been eye-opening for Jordahl, who has enjoyed quality teammates at Crater but certainly not the wealth and depth comprising the North and South rosters for the Les Schwab Bowl.

“It’s just really awkward to see everybody good,” said Jordahl. “You normally see maybe one or two big, big linemen per team, but to see them all in one place everywhere you look here is really unique and special. It’s been really interesting and cool because going against everybody that’s good, it just makes you better. You’re learning new stuff and it’s just a good atmosphere.”

Being surrounded by such talent can also play mind games when you’re someone like Jordahl, who is used to enjoying a little more success during practice reps.

“I don’t want to sound like I’m boasting or anything because I’m not, but when we practice at Crater,” he cautioned, “normally I do so well in practice that I can tell that I’m doing good and I can feel it and I can feel that I’m overpowering other people. With these guys here, you’re all pretty level and even. We all have our tiny strengths in certain spots but everybody is kind of left to wonder, ‘Am I doing that good? Am I doing bad?’ It’s hard to know.”

Competing in such an environment is what drew Jordahl to the Les Schwab Bowl, as well as the opportunity to expand his horizons and information as a player moving forward.

“I came here to get the experience and the knowledge, and hopefully maybe even to be scouted to get me on the radar,” said the all-state defensive end. “My ultimate goal, though, is just to stay above water, try to be in there as much as I can (Saturday) and maybe stick above the crowd a little bit to try and redeem myself for being an underclassman and just go represent my school in the best way possible.”

As a wrestler, Jordahl has known immediate success since stepping on the Crater High campus. He finished as Class 5A state runner-up at 195 pounds as a freshman and sophomore, then placed fourth at 220 this past weekend following a tough 8-6 loss in the third-place final to Crescent Valley’s Konrad Hoyer.

“At state I didn’t do as good as I have in recent years with fourth place,” said Jordahl. “I feel like a lot of it was due to the fact that it was 90-something inside the building and everybody was sweating and slipping and sliding, but I can’t complain too much. It was nice that we even got a state tournament, I was happy with that.”

Jordahl said he plans to use that learning experience for the next wrestling season, just as he will use this week’s experience to better himself for the football season this fall.

“This is really one of the only camps I’ve ever been to,” he said, “so my goal for this is just to learn something new for defense. My coaches are great at Crater, but you kind of want to know what else is out there when you’ve been learning the same thing for three years. You want to know if there’s more and what can make you better, little stuff like that, so I’ve tried to come out here and learn more and go against the best.”

The learning curve definitely has been steep with so many talented coaches on hand for the Les Schwab Bowl.

“This camp, some of the stuff they’re teaching, I’ve never even heard of,” Jordahl said in amazement. “You get so many coaches from all around the area where all their techniques are different and they’re trying to teach everybody their own thing, but they also want you to do what you know. It is a really hard balance. I felt like I bombed the first day because I was just trying so hard to try the new techniques and it was not working out that well, so I just refrained back to what I knew.”

“At the same time,” he added, “there are little things that you can still implement that each coach tries to tell you about it, so that’s what I’ve been doing and it’s been good so far.”

With such a great training ground and welcoming attitudes from all the players, the only real downfall this week for Jordahl was his experience during a lineman 7-on-7 competition that complemented a tug-of-war between the running backs and defensive backs.

“I lost ... I cannot catch a ball at all,” he said with a laugh. “I forgot to bring my gloves on this trip so it did not work out too well. The line is definitely where I belong.”

Have a local story idea? Reach sports editor Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, khenry@rosebudmedia.com, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry

Crater junior defensive lineman Jimmy Jordahl (52) brings down a Grants Pass runner during the 2021 spring football season. ANDY ATKINSON / MAIL TRIBUNE
Jimmy Jordahl