WEST LINN, Ore. (KOIN) — Repeating a state championship season is never an easy task. Add in the fact that West Linn lost more than half of its seniors from last year’s perfect season and the difficulty rises.
But, in the cyclical system that is high school football, new seniors are given the reigns each year, and if the Lions want a state title for the second year in a row, they need new players to be difference makers.
Two weeks into this year, Qawi Ntsasa has been exactly that, and more, for West Linn.
So far, Ntsasa has grabbed 4 receiving touchdowns and an interception, including a 9 catch, 116-yard performance last week in a 21-14 win over No. 3 South Medford. His playmaking ability has only been equaled by his leadership skills, which has been a major asset for the Lions.
“He’s one of those special people that you come across very rarely in your lifetime as a coach,” said David Shelofsky, West Linn’s speed and conditioning coach.
After watching the exodus of seniors from last year’s team, Ntsasa decided that it was his time to step up and lead West Linn.
“It’s important for me to take a bunch of kids under my wing so that way when I graduate they can do the same,” Ntsasa said.
In the offseason, Ntsasa would gather his teammates for voluntary workouts. During the season, in the few moments he hasn’t been on the field, he’s also been his teammates biggest supporter. Shelofsky called him a cheerleader for the rest of the guys.
Ntsasa has also led by example.
“You rarely see him hanging his head,” Shelofsky said. “If he misses a play he gets down on himself for a short period of time, but then he rallies back and kind of gets all the guys pepped up for the next play.”
Currently, Ntsasa is rated by 247Sports as the 23rd-best recruiting prospect in the state. He’s excited about the possibility of playing in college, but right now his focus remains on leading West Linn to what he hopes is a second-straight state championship.
“I hope that I’m kind of someone they can look up to, you know, and be a role model for some of those kids.”