By Bob Lundeberg, Albany, Ore., Democrat-Herald
The awards keep piling up for Alex Hoff.
The former Lebanon High School standout has received honor after honor for his breakthrough junior season with the Linfield football team.
Hoff, a 6-foot-3, 230-pound defensive end, was a unanimous Division III first-team all-American after recording 27.5 tackles for loss and 15.5 sacks in 12 games.
Linfield made it all the way to the semifinals of the Division III tournament before falling at Wisconsin-Whitewater, 20-14, on Dec. 13. The Warhawks went on to win their second straight national title and their sixth in eight seasons.
“When we got into camp and saw how athletic this team was, we knew we could put it together and have a good year,” said Hoff, a two-year starter and three-year letter winner for the Wildcats. “We had athletes all over, front line to back. A bunch of guys that were the best from wherever they came from.”
Hoff certainly fits that criteria.
A 5A second-team all-state selection as a senior at Lebanon, Hoff went to Linfield primarily for the opportunity to play with his half-brother, Tyler Steele.
In 2013, Steele (a redshirt-senior defensive tackle) and Hoff (a sophomore end) both started for the Wildcats. It was the first time Steele, a West Salem alum, and Hoff got to play together.
“My brother went down with a knee injury my freshman year, so that gave me the opportunity to come back sophomore year and play with him,” Hoff said. “It was very cool to get to do that.”
Hoff, a business management major, recorded 32 tackles and six sacks as a sophomore pass rush specialist while weighing around 205 pounds.
He added about 25 pounds of muscle during the offseason to improve his run defense.
“I slapped on that weight to hold up better against the run, and I thought that was a strong point of my game this year,” he said. “The extra weight really added to my game.”
The end result was an increase in strength with no loss in quickness.
Hoff overwhelmed opposing offensive tackles all season to win the Northwest Conference Defensive Player of the Year.
He was also named to the Associated Press’ Little All-America first team, which includes Division II, Division III, and NAIA players.
“Alex had the goal this year of trying to be an all-American, and I told him last offseason that was something I thought he was capable of,” Linfield defensive line coach Jackson Vaughan said. “He has a tremendous burst off the ball, which is the most important thing for a pass rusher. He has great change of direction, and it’s very difficult to get him on the ground. He just has that ability to catch himself and continue to run and make progress.”
Hoff said people routinely ask if he’s considering a professional football career.
While his upcoming senior campaign at Linfield is the No. 1 focus, Hoff admitted his mind occasionally wanders ahead.
“So many doors can open in life, and it’s always hard to predict it,” Hoff said. “I would love to play football as long as I can, and I know Linfield has a nice connection with some teams over in Germany. Maybe go over there for a year or two and postpone real life for a bit. We’ll see. It’s always a dream.”
What dreams may come
By Robert Husseman of the McMinnville, Ore. News-Register/N-R
One of Curtis Terry’s first calls out of the firefighting academy led him to a dead body.
Terry joined a crew of Black Butte Ranch Rural Fire Protection District officers at the scene of an accident on Highway 20, east of the Santiam Junction and northwest of the Black Butte Ranch resort community, in July 2006. A motorcyclist took one of the highway’s many sloping turns too fast. His motorcycle skidded out from under him.
A tractor semitrailer ran over the motorcyclist.
“That was a real eye-opening experience,” Terry said. “I think that’s kind of when I knew that I could do that, just because I could handle the situations.”
Terry was a talented athlete at McMinnville High School, playing football, wrestling and running high hurdles in track for the Grizzlies. Upon graduating in June 2006, “when he got out of school, I don’t think he had anything set in stone,” his father, Mike Terry said. A friend’s older brother had gone through the Black Butte Ranch RFPD scholarship program, which sounded intriguing enough to Curtis.
“He gets a purpose and that’s what he’s going to do,” Mike Terry said.
Black Butte Ranch RFPD trainees enroll in Central Oregon Community College and pursue dual associate’s degrees in fire science and emergency medical services. Curtis Terry underwent a rigorous three-month “academy” program with the RFPD, which paid his COCC tuition. Terry was hired on as a full-time officer in January 2010 after completing his degrees.
Terry and the other candidates lived in the fire station at Black Butte Ranch and responded to calls, primarily of a medical nature. Some involved death or serious injury, such as the motorcyclist. Some involved, well, other things.
“You get a lot of bachelor parties, bachelorette parties and things like that,” Terry said. “They do scavenger hunts for these parties, and usually somewhere down the line it involved something where you have to give a kiss to a firefighter or take a picture. Things like that.”
According to his parents, he had never showed an inclination for the firefighting profession before signing up for the academy. After completing the COCC program, he couldn’t see himself doing anything else.
“I think I took that for granted. The opportunity that I was given, I just blew it,” Terry said. “I was 21. I was still immature, just making bad decisions, making selfish decisions.”
It was 4 p.m. on June 18, 2010, when Terry drove his 1999 Saturn along Highway 219, just outside St. Paul. Terry had been drinking beforehand and was on his way to a friend’s farm.
“Their driveway’s right off the highway,” Terry said. “I don’t remember much. I remember seeing a car coming towards me. Thought I could make it. Turned in front of him – obviously, couldn’t.”
Terry was taken by helicopter to Oregon Health and Science University in Portland to treat minor injuries sustained in the wreck. The driver of the other vehicle also sustained injuries.
“I think it was just the balance of the lifestyle I was living and days off from work – that was what we did,” “Every chance I got when I wasn’t working, I was taking advantage of it. Whether I was out on a boat or out on a lake, camping somewhere out in the woods, up in the mountains, doing whatever, usually whatever I was doing involved alcohol. It just kind of got out of control.”
Following the incident, Terry was charged with driving under the influence of intoxicants, reckless driving and assault in the third degree – the latter, a Class C felony. He faced up to six years in prison and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines. His employment with the Black Butte Ranch RFPD was terminated shortly thereafter.
Terry agreed to a plea deal with the Marion County Circuit Court. He pled guilty to the DUII and assault charges and was sentenced to 17 days in jail and three years probation. (The assault charge has since been reduced to a misdemeanor.) Terry was required to complete an alcohol treatment program and pay $1,904 in fines. Finally – and most critically for his job prospects – Terry lost his driving privileges for five years.
“At that point, I wasn’t really sure what I was going to do,” Terry said. “I knew I wanted to get back into the fire service. I just didn’t know how I was going to get there.”
He considered joining the military. His parents advocated for him to attend college. Instead, Terry moved into a home in the St. Johns neighborhood of Portland with four high school friends. He drove a forklift at a Mor furniture warehouse, working as many as 16-hours a day.
“I’d get the paycheck and it would be so disappointing,” Terry said. “It was a high-stress environment because everything’s about turnover rate.”
Terry returned to his mother Paula’s house in McMinnville in the winter of 2011 to combat an illness. (Mike and Paula Terry are divorced.) It was then that he decided – not relented – to go back to school.
“I did everything I could to not come back home,” Terry said with a laugh. “just because I didn’t want to be that same story of everyone that leaves and then comes back home. I explored all my options. I looked at all the state schools in the area.”
Terry factored football into his college decision. He had maintained his strong physical condition from his firefighting days. He picked up an application for Eastern Oregon University, an NAIA school in La Grande, but backed out at the last minute.
“His choice to come to Linfield was 75 percent to play football and 25 percent to get the degree,” Paula Terry said. “Now, he’s not going to walk away when football’s over.”
Paula Terry is an administrator at the Nicholson Library on the Linfield campus, and Curtis was eligible for free tuition to the college. The Terrys learned that Linfield’s tuition remission program expired once the child in question turned 24, an age Curtis reached on August 19, 2012. As he considered other schools, the financial savings of living in his hometown and his familiarity with the campus environment won out.
“He’s paying for it to go here,” Paula Terry said.
When Curtis tried out for the football team, familiarity was an extra benefit. His coach at Mac High, Greg McAnally, had joined the Linfield staff as an assistant, then working with the defensive line.
“That class that he was in at McMinnville High School, they were a fun class and they were hard-working,” McAnally said. “Those guys looked up to him and he did a good job in our program. Watching him come back in was kind of neat because, when he first came in, he was kind of the older guy.”
College football took its toll on Terry physically. “That was some pain my body hadn’t felt in a long time,” he said. “There were some muscles there that I hadn’t used in years.” Compounding matters, he tore the labrum in his left shoulder in fall camp and missed the 2012 season.
Injuries took their toll yet again in 2013; Terry played in five games, recording eight tackles and one sack. He was unsure about his eligibility to play beyond the season; when Linfield matched up against Wisconsin-Whitewater in the NCAA Division III semifinals, Terry was on the sidelines, contemplating his future.
“Once it kind of set in that we were going to lose, I just had this feeling that it wasn’t done yet, it wasn’t over,” Terry said.
It turned out that he could play another year under a perverse condition. Terry had to drop out of Linfield for the spring semester to preserve one final semester of eligibility, a true senior season. He was not allowed to participate in football-related activities but kept close tabs with his teammates off the NCAA’s clock.
Terry could have walked at Linfield’s graduation ceremony on June 1. He had one semester’s worth of courses to complete his bachelor’s degree in exercise science.
Instead, he didn’t want to take the spotlight away from his mother.
Paula Terry started working at Linfield 20 years ago as a part-time clerk in the school’s accounting office. Lacking a college degree, she began taking “a class a year” toward a bachelor’s in social and behavioral sciences, which she obtained this past spring.
“What am I doing with it? I’m keeping my job,” Paula said with a smile.
So Paula walked at the ceremony in the green between Melrose Hall and the President’s House with members of the football team whom she had known since their freshman seasons.
“He was pretty excited to see her getting that done,” said Brynnan Hyland, a senior in 2014 who walked in the June ceremony. “That was cool, to see him really excited with her. That was fun, to see her son, who is older than all of us, graduating after her.”
For the last three months, Terry has lived a low-key lifestyle. He worked out and played football. He spent time at a pair of work-study jobs. He rode his bicycle to and from campus, and wherever he needed to go. He and his roommates – defensive end Alex Hoff and defensive tackles Trey and Ty Farber – sat down for “family dinners” on the Fridays before games, eating spaghetti.
“He’s a normal friend, a normal teammate, except he’s older and takes more ice baths,” Trey Farber said.
Terry is happy to lend a sympathetic ear to his wayward younger teammates. When former Wildcats safety Colin Forman was arrested for DUII in May 2013, Terry said that he and Forman discussed their struggles with alcohol.
“A lot of guys just think it can’t happen to them,” said defensive coordinator Jackson Vaughan, Terry’s position coach. “Curtis and (Forman) are good people. They made bad choices in bad situations.”
On the field, Terry started 11 of 13 games at defensive end opposite his roommate, Hoff. He recorded 24 tackles (nine for loss) and 3.5 sacks, but his most impactful moment came in the 2014 Division III semifinals against Wisconsin-Whitewater. Terry blocked an extra-point attempt in the third quarter, a play that could have proven vital if the Wildcats scored and converted their kick. Terry’s name was never mentioned on the ESPN3 national broadcast.
Even in the midst of a football season, Terry has been reminded of what he has lost, what he is working to regain. If the Linfield football team travels north on Interstate 5, the team bus takes Highway 219 outside Newberg before heading east on McKay Road.
“A mile away from where you turn,” Terry said, “is where my accident was.”
Story "Top 10: notable deaths" in 12/30/2014 McMinnville, Ore., News-Register/N-R includes "Yamhill County lost some prominent citizens in 2014" and the following ...
Steve Davis, who went from being a Linfield College football star to a major fundraiser for the college’s athletic programs, died April 22 from complications related to treatment he was undergoing for leukemia.
He was 63. After graduating in 1972, Davis went to work for his family’s business, Cherry City Electric, in Salem. He later worked for McMinnville’s Farnham Electric. Most recently, he worked for Daktronics, a manufacturer and installer of electronic scoreboards and signage. He helped launch the Wildcat Open, a golf tournament played annually at Michelbook Country Club that serves as the athletic department’s top fund-raiser. He had headed up tee sponsorship sales in recent years.
In 1986, Davis collaborated with Ron Davison and Jeff Kizer to build the concession and restroom facility adjacent to the baseball, football and track and field complex. He helped coordinate operation of the concession stand on days events took place. In 1988, Davis was honored with the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics’ District 2 Distinguished Service Award. That same year, he received the college’s Alumni Service Award. He was inducted into the Linfield Athletics Hall of Fame for meritorious service in 2003.