SPORT SECTIONS
Tuesday, December 1
Updated: December 4, 11:03 AM ET
 
Brett's Blog: For Landon ...

By Brett Smith
For ESPN RISE

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This week's playoff game in Portland has extra meaning for Brett Smith and his West Salem teammates.

Brett Smith | #16 Quarterback, Junior | West Salem (Salem, Ore.)

Brett Smith, a 6-foot-2, 180-pounder at West Salem, is one of the top junior quarterbacks in the nation. He was an ESPN RISE Magazine Preseason All-Oregon Player to Watch and bounced back from an injury this fall to lead West Salem to an 8-1 record heading into the postseason. A standout at last summer's Nike Camp at Stanford and Elite 11 regional camps at Georgia and Cal, Smith will periodically check in with ESPNRISE.com to discuss his season and the recruiting process.

We were able to defeat the West Linn Lions 41-20 in the quarterfinals on Friday and the victory was important because it sets up a matchup this Friday against the #2 ranked Jesuit Crusaders. The wins in the playoffs have been great for our school and for our West Salem community. Everyone is excited about our next step, but Jesuit is fast and physical and they will be a good challenge for us. People are saying that we haven't played a team as physical as these guys all year, but I don't believe they have either. That is the way it is when you come down to the best 4 teams in the state, because the teams that remain are all capable of beating each other. We have to protect the ball on offense and I have to make good decisions. With some stops on defense, I am confident that we will play well against this formidable foe. We are definitely the underdogs, and there are a lot of people out there that aren't even giving us a chance. I like the position that we are in and I have been thinking a lot about the story of David vs. Goliath this week.

Aside from actually playing our opponents on Friday nights, there is something that our team thinks about prior to kickoff and during the actual course of the game and beyond what happens on the field. We are all playing for something much more than just the "W." Before this season started we dedicated it to our friend, and former Titan football player Landon Kuenzi, who was tragically killed in a car accident this summer just before doubles started. Landon was a member of our 2007 football team. He wasn't very big, wasn't very fast, a 2nd-team LB that was put in after we had some injuries. His play was inspiring to all of us who played with him. He stepped up that season in 2007 as we reached the state semifinal game that year, where we ultimately were beat in a heartbreaker 21-20.

Shane Kuenzi, Landon's little brother, and my good friend, now wears #40, in honor of his older brother, who was the original #40 on our Titan team that advanced to the place we are today in 2007. I wear "LTK Forever" on my eye black before every game, and as soon as Coach Stanley is finished with our talk, our entire team goes to the nearest 40-yard line and prays as a memorial to Landon. It is always very emotional to me when I see Landon and Shane's parents on the field after the games, but it is something that I always look forward to. They always congratulate me and I appreciate it very much.

I will never forget Landon, his friendship, his example, or his place in our Titan family. That is why this week is extra meaningful for us. We want to make PGE Park our home field and pray on the 40 for #40, who played on the exact same field only two years ago -- hopefully, this time, after a win Friday, that would put us in the State Championship!





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