Sunday, October 31, 2010


High School Cover 2 has been monitoring the the progress of the Northwest Community College Football League (NWCCFL) this season as it expands from four to five teams. A sixth team (in Everett) will be added for the 2011 season. Next Saturday, November 6, two NWCCFL teams will vie for the league championship at Olympic Stadium in Hoquiam at 5:00 p.m.

The league and the championship game have recently garnered notice by the television media as shown in this Channel 13 footage. If the regular season is any gauge, the championship game in Hoquiam will be exciting. Why not come out and see what Community College football is like and support the league's efforts to give our kids a chance to continue playing football after they graduate from high school. You won't be disappointed and your attendance will help to affirm the good work that is being done by league officials and coaches. See you there.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Question the Coach - Officials and Concussions

There has been, at all levels of football, an emphasis on how to deal with and prevent concussions suffered on the field of play. At the high school level, this State has been in out front in trying to make the sport as safe as possible. The passage last year of the Lystedt Law was ground-breaking and demonstrated the seriousness that is being given to the issue. We wondered if game officials were changing the way they called the game because of this new emphasis so we asked our panel of coaches if they would like to respond to the question below. To see what those that responded told us, read below.

Given the increased attention lately about head trauma and concussions, have you noticed that game officials are being more careful and attentive about helmet-to-helmet hits and with players leading with their heads?

Chelan Coach Darren Talley

Yes, in fact it is a point of emphasis with all officials this year as a top priority during competition. Anytime an official suspects a player of a concussion that player will be sent to the sidelines for a coaches evaluation. If the coach suspects anything during the evaluation, then we are quickly, to the first step protection according to the Lystedt law, "if in doubt hold them out" . Once this has happened they may not reenter competition or practice until they are seen by a health care professional trained in head & concussion management. The health care professional will give the coach a written step by step plan for the athlete to follow as they move toward practice and competition again.

Adna Coach K.C. Johnson

The officials in SW Washington seem to be real aware of the issue. Most have discussed concerns about it during pre-game. The officials just want to be sure that we're all on the same page as far as safety is concerned. I have had officials tell me that they're handing it over to me after a big hit. I did hear of one occasion that officials made a player leave the game for showing signs of a concussion earlier in the season. We have not had any problems with it this year. We always play it safe when it comes to our athletes.

Meridian Coach Bob Ames

Not really. We have had a couple of games, one in particular that I remember, where a member of the opposing team was obviously dazed and having trouble finding the huddle and the player was not checked or at least asked to be sat out for an evaluation. I pointed it out to an official and got a blank stare. It was like I was trying to get an advantage or something by getting him to remove the kid for a look see. I thought it was a point of emphasis, but maybe not. In another game early in the season, there were at least 5 concussion type situations. One player was taken the hospital and others, who were down, removed from the game for evaluation. One player was ours and he didn't return to play.

Lummi Coach Jim Sandusky

I have noticed more players being sent to the sidelines for evaluation then in previous years. I would say at least double. Some of them are legitimate with a kid getting up slow after a hit or tackle. Some also seem to be on the far side of caution which is what has to be done with the new law in place. In the past years those players would not have been sent to the sideline.

Willipa Valley Coach Rob Freise

I am happy to report that this has not been a huge issue in my years of
coaching. I do think there is a heightened awareness for everyone, but
for the most part coaches do a good job teaching kids correct techniques.
Most helmet to helmet contacts I see are incidental rather than a choice
by the tackler/runner. I think the bigger issue will be how referees
handle the suspected concussions. In my opinion, this topic could have
some game changing implications. Everyone is on alert for liability, so
caution is at it's highest. This may be a good thing. After all, this is
high school football. As for our team, we always try to err on the side
of caution.

Mariner Coach John Ondriezek

I haven’t seen the helmet to helmet issue in high school, high school players are taught to not lead with their helmet & always keep their head up. In my opinion , officials have done a good job enforcing the helmet to helmet contact rule. It all starts with how players are taught to tackle, if players are taught proper tackling techniques, it makes it easier for the officials to enforce the rule.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Coaches Corner

For those who are following Chelan's successful 2010 regular season run, here's the result from their game on Friday.

Chelan's Football Team are League Champions!

The Goats clinched the CTL championship with a 55-20 victory over Tonasket Friday night. The Goats are now 4-0 in league play and are guaranteed home field advantage for the first round of high school crossover playoffs.

Coach Darren Talley was worried heading up to Tonasket, "It's a tough place to play and they have one of the league's best running back in Keegan McCormick". But the Goats showed up on offense and defense this week to secureth
e title.

Matt Peterson scored the first three touchdowns for Chelan. The halftime score was 41-6 .......... By the start of the fourth quarter many of the substitutes were in the game.

Robin Weathersby appeared full strength this week and the Tigers felt his presence as he amassed 72 yards rushing and caught 3 passes...... Cole Schwartz had another good night running the ball as he went 160 yards on 13 carries. Michael Amsel, Jr. was 14 for 18 passing the ball for 131 yards. He also threw for 3 touchdowns. Matt Robinson led the receivers with 3 receptions for 24 yds and one touchdown. Matt Peterson and Robin Weathersby led the runningbacks with four and three receptions each. The team is still without wide receiver and cornerback Aaron McQuaid, Talley predicts he'll be back soon.

Chelan's defense was able to contain McCormick. It had helped the week before, that the defense was tested by the Cashmere Bulldogs.

Matt Pittsinger rallied the defense again, but had lots of support from his teammates. Coach Talley rewarded him by giving him a couple of chances to run the ball. He responded with a stellar 7.5 yards per carry average.

The Mountain Goats are now in a different position that few Chelan football teams have ever been, they still have one league game left, while having the title wrapped up. Next weeks game is against tough Cascade team in Peshastin. "They are going to come at us like a wounded bear", Talley predicts. The Kodiaks lost to Cashmere Friday night, 6-35. History is on the side of the Kodiaks, Chelan has not beaten them in league play for a long time.

The Booster Club is planning another BBQ on the road for this week. Fans and alumni are very excited to be hosting another playoff game in the near future. Go Goats!

Submitted by Russ Gatzemeier

Chelan/Tonasket Stats

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Coaches Corner

Chelan head coach Darren Talley sent the following report on his team. The Goats are obviously having another fine season.

Chelan beats Cashmere--Again!

A record sized crowd were treated to another fantastic football game Friday night. The Chelan Goats defeated the #3 ranked Cashmere Bulldogs 45-38 in a wild scoring fest that was actually won by Chelan's defense.

"Our Defense was outstanding on the D Line. The linebackers filled as well as they ever have", coach Darren Talley commented. The game did not look good at the start, as Casey Ruther a Cashmere Bulldog took the opening kickoff all the way back for a touchdown. Then, Michael Amsel, Jr. and company got started.

The Goats started slow on offense and were facing a 4th down and long, when Amsel recieved a poor snap on an attempted punt. He took the ball, eluded most of the Bulldog defenders and was able to scramble for a first down. Cole Schwartz scored on an 18 yard run to get the Goats on the scoreboard.

Matt Robinson then scored on a 27 yard pass from Amsel to put the Goats on top. The Chelan Goats were able to build on that lead in a tough CTL battle that was fun to watch and coach. Talley said,"Our offense was able to put enough points on the board to hold off a last quarter passing attack by Cashmere."

Schwartz again led the team in tackles with 16 and had 77 yards rushing the ball. Amsel had a huge night; with two +70 yard touchdowns, rushing for 233 yards, passing for 148 yards and played outstanding defense.

This is the first time in 11 years that Chelan has won the Bronze Shoe game, a traveling trophy that was originated by former coach Bill Lippincott. Sophmore Amsel, Jr. looked like a "Young Bill Lippincott" on this evening; he punted, returned both kicks and punts, and starred on both sides of the ball.

It has been a very long time since Chelan has beaten Cashmere two years in row. The Goats are the only unbeaten team in the Caribou Trail League and are now in sole possession of first place.

All who attended the game were treated to an amazing night of football. Athletic director Scott Raab presented the team with the "Bronze Shoe" immediately after the game and the team ran to ring the Victory Bell in a joyous celebration at Sargent Field.

Submitted By Russ Gatzemeier

Chelan/Cashmere Stats

Monday, October 18, 2010

Support, Kudos and Concussions

When Jim and I started this blog nearly two years ago, I didn’t really know what to expect. I suspected I might learn something since it had been a long time since I’d either played or coached the game but, for me, it was mainly a chance to reconnect with my favorite sport and to do it with a childhood friend who had recently come back into my life. Since I liked sports and liked to write, starting and writing a blog dedicated to high school football sounded like fun. Now, near the end of that second year, I can say that it has been exactly that – a lot of fun. I have been privileged to meet and observe some truly good people both coaches and players. I have been able to witness how hard both groups work; how dedicated most of the coaches are and how much effort most of the players put in to improve. It has been a privilege to tell their story. There are, however, a few loose ends that have been rolling about in my head (where there’s a lot of empty space) that I never seem to get around to writing about. Maybe they deserve their own story, but I’m going to combine them here and clear them out of my mind.

1. I have been thinking for a while now about something that I’ll label “school support,” for lack of a better term. In the past two years I have seen a lot of high school football games at a variety of venues. I’ve wondered why some teams have great support with overflowing stands and other teams perform for only a handful of people. I’ve drawn a couple of conclusion about why that happens. First, the teams with the most rabid supporters are usually from small towns where there is pride in the local school and no other game or school in town. People in these places often feel pride when their school/town does well. It gives them bragging rights. Of course, if their team loses regularly, then the support may dries up. Secondly, in large urban areas, there is little connection to whatever high school or schools are nearby. Rabid fandom is usually reserved for a college or pro team. Regular attendees at schools like this tend to be students, parents and relatives and a scattering of ex-players who played there and still feel a connection to the school. There are, of course, exceptions. Those exception rarely occur at large inner city schools. They do happen, however, at large, often affluent, suburb schools that field teams that win regularly. Everyone likes to support a winner and if the winner is from an area that you identify with, then you are more likely to go see what the fuss is about. What does all of that mean? I have no idea, but it’s something that I have observed. Does winning bring fans or do fans encourage winning? Probably some of both, but it’s definitely easier to attract fans to an area/city that has an identity.

I spoke above about some of the great people that I have met while doing this job, both coaches and players. This year High School Cover 2 selected two players who we felt were exceptional athletes, students and individuals. We will be following their progress through their Junior and Senior years as they work toward graduation and decide where they will commit after their high school years are finished. Mariner High School’s KeiVarae Russell is one of those athletes. Zach Banner from Lakes High School is the other. The below letter was written by Dave Hernandez who attended a recent Mariner/Eastlake game. It praises KeiVarae for his actions on and off the field. It’s another example of why we felt that KeiVarae and Zach were special. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Eastlake is one of those special places, mentioned above, where team support is excellent. It’s no surprise that someone associated with that school would bother to praise someone from another school.

A Truly Impressive Young Man

As a youth football coach for over 7 years, I have had the privilege of working with a lot of good kids who have passion, love and respect for the game of football. There are not too many things that players do that really surprise me…that is until this past Friday night. My older son plays for Eastlake High School and on Friday night, Mariner High School came to Sammamish to play our Wolves. There was a lot of talk amongst us dads about the running back for Mariner High School. We were all very excited to see for ourselves how good of a player he was. Sure enough, on a number of plays, he showed the caliber of running back he is. The words I heard in the stands were “smooth” and “fast”.

But, it wasn’t until after the game that I found out what kind of player he truly was. The Mariner players left the field first, and all of the players started walking to the locker room, except for one. The running back, whose team had just lost 56-13, stayed at the gate and waited for our team to leave the field, and congratulated each of them on a game well played. I talked with a few of our players after the game and consistently they told me the same things…”he was the nicest player I have ever played against”, “man, he was great”, “after I tackled him, he patted me on the back and told me ‘good tackle’”.

In today’s community of high school football, we talk about stats, wins & losses, and who is going to the playoffs. We tend to not talk as much about the truly important things, like character, sportsmanship, and respect. After what I witnessed, I felt compelled to write what I am sure a lot of people in Everett already know…Kei’Varae Russell truly is a great player, on the field and off.

Dave Hernandez -- Sammamish

3. I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention another topic that has garnered a lot of press lately and one that this blog has championed from its inception – increased attention to head injuries. It seems that those in charge of all levels of the game from youth leagues to the NFL have finally realized that there is a problem. Our brains are not nailed down and slosh around when the head gets hit. All that sloshing can lead to permanent damage and even death, if it isn’t treated seriously and professionally. It feels good that we live in a State that is leading the way in doing something about head trauma. On May of 2009, Washington State passed the Lystedt Law in an attempt to prevent the type of serious head injuries suffered by Zachery Lystedt who sustained life-threatening head trauma when returning to a high school football game after suffering a concussion. The Lystedt Law mandates that any player who suffers a concussion cannot return to play again until he/she is cleared by a licensed health care professional trained in the evaluation and management of concussions. The Lystedt Law pertains to all teams, including those in youth leagues that play on public funded fields. Further information on brain trauma can be found on the website, which was started by Jean Rickerson, a Washington State resident whose son suffered a serious concussion while playing in a high school game in 2008. She developed the site to help guide others who need answers about concussions. Still, with all the attention lately and the steps taken and being taken to lessen the chance of serious injury, playing football is still a risk. Is it a risk you or your child should be taking? That depends upon who you ask. Dave Pear, ex-Washington Husky, retired NFL player and advocate for retired and disabled NFL players, told Jim recently that he would not allow his kids to play football given the risk of permanent injury. Of course, Dave’s injuries and those of many of his colleagues were sustained playing at a much higher level than high school. The higher the league and the older the player, the harder they hit and the harder they will be hit. There are a number of safety precautions being tried and proposed to keep players safer and the new concussion rules will certainly help, but there is no denying that football is a violent sport. Given the speed and power of players today, particularly at the upper levels, nothing short of a suit of armor would guarantee complete safety, and maybe even that wouldn’t do so. If helmets can’t be improved further to eliminate concussions, maybe we should think about going the other way. Rugby players play hard and tackle. They play without helmets and suffer fewer brain traumas. Without a hard shell on their head providing an often false sense of security, they are careful how they tackle. Maybe we should return to the days of leather helmets. Do the obvious benefits of the game, i.e. teamwork, sportsmanship, leadership, physical conditioning, etc., etc., outweigh the chance of serious injury. To me they do, but anyone choosing to play the sport should know the dangers and receive instruction in ways to avoid head injury. No leading with the helmet, etc. I don’t know how to correct the problem of head injuries; I’m only removing the ideas from my mind that I have thought about recently and making way for newer, fresher material. As always, we welcome your solutions, thoughts and ideas. Dick Kalla

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Another Role Model: Toughness, Desire, and the Quest for Yardage

In a recent game pitting Cascade of Leavenworth against Tonasket, the fans in a packed house, were treated to an almost unbelievable feat of strength, endurance, and tenacity when Tonasket High School's Keegan McCormick ran for 308 yards on 47 carries. That is right, 308 and 47. That, ladies and gentlemen, is 6.5 yards per carry. When I was in high school, I'm not sure that I could have gained 308 yards even if the opposing coach had forgotten to put a defense on the field. Averaging 6.5 yards a carry for 47 carries with eleven amped-up defenders on one of the tougher 1A teams in the state beating on you the entire time boggles the mind. It sets a mile-high standard for toughness. I am using Keegan's toughness as a model of toughness for my middle school football team. These are thirteen and fourteen year-old kids most of whom had never played a down of football in their lives until they stepped on a football field on September 8 of this year...and it has been glaringly evident. The district's budget-saving move of cutting the seventh-grade program led to the lack of on-field experience of our eighth-graders. I have written at length about the community programs from other communities that stepped in to give these kids a place to play. I would have applauded a community program from our own community that worked with us with the same ultimate goal in mind: sending grade-eligible, football- savvy kids to the high school. Since the Washington State Interscholastic Athletic Association has limited school participants to four quarters a week, I won't play a kid who is playing in a community program and take a chance on his getting injured by doing so. The community programs may not care, but I do. So, we district coaches have become the one-legged man in the butt-kicking contest.

I have been chronicling, on a weekly basis, our progress (or lack of it) thus far. I did not write after our third game because we had a number of other topics that we needed to deal with on this site. It is too bad, because although we suffered another loss, we were able to isolate two of our defensive problems that led to their scoring, and correct them. Our game this week was a lot like the game of whack-a-mole. You solve two problems and another one pops up. This time it was over-aggressiveness. Our kids pursued well...too well. They over-pursued and the other team scored three times on the same mis-direction play. We lost the game to a school that has energetic, classy young coaches by four points. We found in Kiernen, an attentive and serious young man, a hard-running back who refused to be stopped, breaking six or seven tackles on the way to a 47-yard touchdown. He epitomizes my belief that a running back must fight for every inch of turf that he can get...die hard! Kodi, our QB, is a tough kid who also plays middle linebacker. We had him roll out to improve his vision, and he responded. He will make an excellent varsity quarterback one day. Junius is an enjoyable young kid who does not suffer from a lack of ego. He makes a habit of going up high in coverage and snagging the ball (sometimes one-handed). He may be our most athletic kid. We are blessed with three linemen who are big by most standards. All three weigh over 200 pounds with Ty tipping the scales at 230. Ty and Brandon are very quick for such big kids and Ty showed his strength by blocking a PAT with the opposing guards backside. I was afraid that they would have to take the kid to the hospital and have the ball removed.

We're getting better. Fast enough to suit me? No, not at all, but maybe with using someone like Keegan McCormick as a role model, all of our backs, not just Viernen, will get everything they can out of a run and lead us to our first victory. Jim Olsen

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Coaches Corner

In this post, Chelan coach Darren Talley forwarded an account of Chelan's last game. This week, Coach Talley also included his JV team's game.

Goats win Defensive Battle

Last year the Chelan Mountain Goats went up to Omak and were left with short end of the stick on a critical Goal Line Stance. This year, they broke through into the end zone for a much needed 15-12 victory.

Coach Talley predicted a wild dogfight between two tough teams and this game was all of that and more. Just one week after racking up 77 points against Okanogan, the Pioneers were able to hold them to only 15.

"The defense, led by Matt Pittsinger, played their best game of the season," said coach Darren Talley. At halftime, the Chelan team had a slim 8-5 lead. At the end of the Third quarter, the Goats were behind 8 -12-- that's when the critical Goal Line offense showed their valor.

Cole Schwartz scored on a one yard plunge that pushed the Goats two points ahead. Jose Ramirez made the PAT for the final score of the night.

Other outstanding players for the Mountain Goats Friday night were Mike Lahaye, Jose Aparicio, Alex Cortez, Michael Amsel, Jr. and Tyler Hood. Robin Weathersby returned to action after sitting out two games .

This week the Goats are in action against the Cashmere Bulldogs at Sargent Field. This regular season game should be a great one, since both teams are ranked high in the Class A polls. This contest is being played for the "Bronze Shoe." Chelan was able to upset the Bulldogs last season to advance deep into the state playoffs.

Submitted by Russ Gatzemeier.

Chelan JV 44 Omak JV 8

Chelan JV football played Omak JV at Sergeant field. Bobby Anderson had the first touchdown of the night. Eric Oscarson scrambled for a TD. Konnar Stevens had 2 rushing touchdowns and one kickoff return for a touchdown. Billy Poppie had a rushing touchdown and Miguel Sanchez followed the TD with an extra point. Frankie Rosas returned an interception for a touchdown. Matt Barnes also had an interception for the goats. The Chelan defense was lead by Billy Poppie who had seven sacks.

reported by Coach David Talley

Saturday, October 9, 2010

A Lesson on How the Game is Played

When I was a young kid walking the half mile or so up a fairly steep hill to Don Lapinski's house, I noticed a sweet-looking old lady who smiled at me as she stood in her front yard. Dressed in a bathrobe, she had a white chicken nestled under her left arm. With her right hand she was stroking the chicken under the neck and beak. Its eyes were closed as if asleep. Suddenly, in a single move, she dropped the chicken from her arm while clamping down on the head and snapping it sharply up. The chicken's lifeless body dropped to the ground and lay there motionless as she tossed the head to the side. I had seen chickens running around with their heads cut off, but this was something that I had never witnessed before, and it shook me. I continued walking, but even though that incident happened decades ago, I remember it vividly.

I don't know why I thought of it on Friday night as we drove away from the Eastlake/Mariner football game, but upon reflection, it was appropriate. When we walked into the Eastlake front gate after our middle-school practice and were welcomed by a sign that said "Everyone welcome", and everyone was indeed welcome. There was a buffet dinner set up and a host of ladies with smiling faces bid us welcome and to please share their food. Now, I have to tell you, that food was good. My wife Lynda is an incredible and creative cook, so I do know the difference. All we could say was "Wow!" And then we walked into the stadium and onto the Mariner sideline. The whistle blew and the chicken was dropped with the head being snapped off. Welcome to Kingco football.

Eastlake scored on each of its possessions in the first half and went into the locker room at halftime comfortably ahead in a 42-7romp. I guess "comfortably" ahead is a matter of perspective. In his previous game against Cascade High School of Everett, John Ondriezek, Mariner's head coach, ever-mindful of how his decisions might affect other coaches and players, chose to remove league-leading rusher KeiVarae Russell from the contest. KeiVarae had rushed for about 160 yards in the first half and looked to be on his way to a record-setting kind of night, but Coach O (as his players call him) chose not to let him continue...for a number of reasons: why risk injury to an excellent running back when the game has been all but decided? why continue to attack with all your weapons a defeated team essentially rubbing their noses in the the dirt and excrement? Why not give your back-up players a much-deserved chance to play in a meaningful game. After all, they have been out there at practice every day, performing the essential job as opposition to the starters, making both the starters and back-ups better athletes at the same time. There is also the time-honored cliche': "what goes around, comes around". In high school sports, that is all too true.

Every team has its own gear-down point, the point at which you begin to substitute freely. Coach O's is a halftime score of 32-7. The Eastlake coaching staff has a higher gear-down point and that is seemingly somewhere in the neighborhood of 55-56 points. Since they compete in a high-powered league where touchdowns are scored quickly and come in bunches, the competition seems to have dictated that gear-down point. I do know that their starters scored all eight of their touchdowns, and those starters are amazing. They are quick, all of them. Defensively, they flow to the ball as well as any team I have seen in my limited (56 years on a football field) experience, and when they get to the ball-carrier, they bring a whole truckload of hurt with them. Their running backs are both quick and strong, finishing a run better than any team I have seen in years. Seemingly, they have been taught that football is, indeed, a game of inches and that every inch matters. They play that way anyway.

In my occasional look at the progress of Mariner High School's KeiVarae, I need to report that although Eastlake made him look all-too-human at times, he still managed 124 yards on 10 carries. Plus, he was one of the Marauder's leading tacklers from his safety position. Jim Olsen

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Question the Coach -- Any Surprises?

Periodically, we ask our panel of coaches a question about the game or their team that we feel will be of interest to our readers and will help you to gain insight into what goes on behind the scenes. With the football season now well underway, we were curious if there were any surprises that they hadn't anticipated. Several of them responded. Here what they said when we asked the question directly below:

"What has been the thing that surprised you the most about your team this year?"

Willipa Valley Coach Rob Freise

The players work ethic and attitude, which seemed to be all intrinsically
motivated. They fire themselves up every practice and game.

Chelan Coach Darren Talley

Our new offensive line. They are doing great. Each week they continue to work hard to improve and make our team successful.

Mariner Coach John Ondriezek

I have not been surprised by our early success . I knew going into the season that we had a group of hard working athletes & because of their dedication---as the season progressed--- they would continue to improve & gain confidence.

Lummi Coach Jim Sandusky

One big surprise for Lummi is the high number of 8th and 9th graders that have turned out. 15 in total which is over half our team.
I believe we only have 12 eighth grade boys in the school and only eleven 9th graders. So almost all the boys in those classes turned out.
It is a pretty good number of players that will produce a few good athletes that could put us in good shape in 2-3 years.

Lakes Coach Dave Miller

I have been pleasantly surprised at how quickly our young sophomores and juniors have stepped up and assumed strong roles on our team that returned only 2 starters. It is one of the hardest working teams we have had and they have improved dramatically from June 1st.

Adna Coach K.C. Johnson

Coming off a 13-0 State Championship season, and graduating 16 seniors, our biggest surprise has been our physical strength. We knew we'd have a solid defense, and our offense would probably be more run oriented, but we didn't think we'd be as strong as we are. We set a school record in our team power lifting at camp this summer!! We have very dedicated athletes when it comes to the weight room, but we have graduated some seriously strong kids the past few years. For this group to out lift the teams we have had in Adna, was a very big surprise to say the least!! A nice surprise at that.

Meridian Coach Bob Ames

Their resiliency. Stuff has swirled around them and football is their sanctuary. They have so much fun being with one another. Practices are hard work, but the daily rigors are softened by good-natured ribbing, trivia questions and lots of laughter. We may not be very good [ed. note: Meridian is 5-0 this year and has outscored its opponents 256-49], but we have lots of fun being that way.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Coaches Corner

Here's the weekly report on the Chelan Goats, submitted by Head Coach Darren Talley:

Goats Score 77 in Huge CTL Win

On First Friday, the Chelan Goats football team was able to outhit and outscore their rivals from up north, the Okanogan Bulldogs 77-49. The matchup was supposed to be Ryan Price, QB -vs- Chelan's amazing sophomore, Michael Amsel Jr.. Instead the game was a flurry of touchdowns that left the necks of the crowd sore from watching many of the Goats cross the goal line again and again.

The home team got off to a great start, but Okanogan closed the gap late in the first half to 28-35. The high scoring offense was led by Aaron McQuaid, Matt Peterson, Mike Amsel Jr., and Cole Schwartz. Amsel had a stellar 119 yards rushing while Schwartz tallied 117 yards. McQuaid had 3 catches for 132 yards. Peterson, although slightly injured, came back big and had several fantastic plays to spark the team.

Defensively, the Goats were challenged by the strong play of Okanogan's Price. Even late in the game, it seemed as if the Bulldogs were still in the hunt. Chelan was not able to play their substitutes as freely as in previous games because of the offensive explosiveness of the opponent. The line play of Matt Pittsinger, Alex Cortez and Quin Courtney bent but, did not break while facing this high scoring team. Allowing another team to score 49 points on you in a football game typically spells disaster, however scoring 77 means that you are doing a lot of things right.

The Goat football team (4-1) is in action this week at Omak. In the tough Caribou Trail League, every game from now on is critical, as the playoffs are fast approaching.

by Russ Gatzemeier

Chelan/Okanagan Game Stats

Sunday, October 3, 2010

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

After this, our second game of the Voyager Middle School season, I have been at a complete loss when attempting to explain what happened. What happened was that we were thoroughly beaten, defeated, destroyed, thumped, embarrassed, and white-washed, losing 32-0. It was one of those beatings that Huck Finn said that his Pap used to give. "It was a beatin'," Huck would say admiringly, "that a boy could take pride in". I guess that might be true if you survived it. Well, we survived it. The next day at practice we had all our team there, at least the able-bodied ones. So, football does not build character, it reflects character. These kids have plenty of character. Our running back Xavier had what his doctor said was a fractured thumb and would be in a cast for four to five weeks. A couple of other kids had various bumps and bruises, but nothing serious except injured pride.

The loss was made more difficult by the fact that some of the team's classmates, guys who chose to play for a community team some ten or so miles away instead of their own school, sat in the stands and made fun of our efforts. The community team from Mountlake Terrace (MTYAA) has made inroads in ours and other schools programs in the area promising kids...what? Scholarships? It has been suggested that the gentleman coaching MTYAA has a relationship with a prominent private school (Archbishop Murphy) in the area and has funneled players there. It has also been suggested that this particular community program doesn't care about the players' grades and uses kids who would be ineligible to play for the school, not having the requisite 2.0 (C) grade point average. That makes sense. The players are not from their community and will not help the local high school, so who cares if it hurts another community or school. Understand, I could have used those kids who chose to play for MTYAA, but the Washington Interscholastic Athletic Association will not allow a kid to play more than four quarters in a week, I cannot allow them to play for us if they are playing elsewhere. It may not bother the MTYAA officials, but I believe that the WAIAA rule is correct, and I will not jeopardize a young boy's future for a win, not at any level or for any team. A note of possible interest: I was the consultant for the MTYAA football program thirty years ago. It seems to have changed.

Our job at Voyager, as I see it, is to try to teach the game of football to thirteen and fourteen year old kids, make sure that they are eligible to play the game, instill sportsmanship in each player, connect each kid with his own (sometimes dormant) competitive nature, and prepare him for his football future at Mariner High School. Next year these kids will be freshmen at Mariner playing for a couple of great coaches: Bill Ojeda and Dexter Griffin who will further refine them and their new teammates who will come from Explorer and Olympic View Middle Schools. After their freshman season they will step into the program of the master teacher and organizer John Ondriezek and become part of the Marauder legacy. At this point though, our job is hard, the most difficult job I have ever undertaken. Outside community programs poaching our players make the job even more difficult.

The school we played feeds the Shoreline schools and their kids understand the game. Their community programs work hand-in-hand with the schools, not against them. So, they had seasoned, knowledgeable, football-smart, and tough athletes playing against our kids who had had a total of sixteen practices and one game under their belt. As I said in an earlier post, out of thirty-six kids who turned out, only four had ever been on a football field before. And, it showed. We were better, and had we played against our first opponent again, I believe we would have won. However, the other team was vastly superior in experience, numbers, knowledge, all phases of the game. Losing our seventh grade program in the Mukilteo School District has done irreparable damage to the middle school programs. Unfortunately, that seems to be exactly what more and more administrators want. A growing number of administrators see sports as a costly nuisance that schools should turn over to the communities. They choose not to see the kids who come through these schools whose lives have been changed for the better because of life-lessons that they have learned on football fields, softball fields, and basketball and tennis courts as well as tracks and cross-country courses.

So, what did we learn from this loss? We learned that some coaches will keep the hammer down even when they are four touchdowns ahead in the third quarter. We learned that referees do not have to point out alignment mistakes to kids as they used to. A referee last year told me, after I thanked him for correcting a receiver for not being on the line (instead of just throwing a flag), "That's what I am here for. We are teachers too". We learned that some referees feel free to talk to coaches and players in sarcastic or sardonic ways when those coaches are desperately trying to correct a myriad of problems: kids who forget which special teams they are on, nine players on the field or twelve on the field, tackling when they are supposed to block, or not enough players on the line of scrimmage. We mostly learned that kids are resilient. They can bounce back from a loss a lot more quickly than their coaches can.

One of our kids came up to Coach Glenn Smith and said, "Coach, I have a problem. I don't like to hit" That is a problem. "And, I don't like to get hit. Can I be a manager?" Glenn was laughing when he told me that, and it was telling that the kid revealed that to him. Glenn is one of the best friends I have ever had. He is a volunteer coach, doesn't get paid a dime, and he works magic with kids. His passions are his wife Veronica, his son Grayson, and Voyager/Mariner football, in that order. What the players don't know is that this energetic, passionate guy is beyond tough. He is scheduled to have surgery soon, a surgery that is anything but routine, and the kids have no knowledge of it. He is relieved that it is the day after a Voyager game, but a day before a Mariner game. He says he can't miss a Mariner game. When we talk about toughness and dedication and loyalty, the model for it is standing over in the Mariner hat, coat, and shorts. Jim Olsen

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Recruiting Trail

With the first real month of the high school season in the books, we wanted to know if the two highly recruited players we are following as they progress through their Junior and Senior years had encountered any surprises so far. To find out, we asked them the following question:

"Now that the season is underway, what has surprised you the most this year?"

KeiVarae Russell

Mine and my team's productivity. I am running behind a line with only ONE returning starter, but they managed to help me run for 961 yards, and 13 offensive TD's in only 4 games! That is truly unbelievable for a near rookie line. The hard work our coaches and the team put in after our week one loss to Arlington was huge. The coaches drilled in our minds that we will win out and focused us on winning each and every game week by week and to not worry about the loss. It must have paid off since we just recently beat previously undefeated Edmonds-Woodway.

Zach Banner

I'm guessing the biggest thing for me is my speed. When you are shooting off that line you have to be the first one off to dominate your opponent, especially on offense. In saying that, I feel I am on the correct road right now to reaching my goal of helping my team win and also of being the best in the country. Our team is on a great track right now going into the our leagues games, and we are working on staying focused. GO LANCERS!