BELLINGHAM - For the past six years since he left Squalicum following the 2005 season, new Bellingham coach Steve Wilson did everything he could to remove himself from the game.
"I was a math teacher at Bellingham, and that was it," Wilson said. "I would just come to the games to support my students. I don't know anything about what went on during practice or with this team. ... It was kind of neat, because I realized that life goes on without football."
Now that he's taken over for the departed Doug Trainor, Wilson hopes to help the Red Raiders make a fresh start after a disappointing 2-8 campaign in 2011.
Just about everything will change for 2012, including what Bellingham is wearing, as the Red Raiders will lose the black and return to the traditional red and white uniforms that they used to wear when Wilson was an assistant before taking over at Squalicum.
"I think we're making a fresh start," senior lineman Thomas Vazorka said. "It's kind of like a clean slate. New coach, new team, new uniforms - I think everybody is excited and optimistic about this season."
Vazorka is one of the big reasons why, as the 6-foot-6, 285-pound senior should continue Bellingham's tradition of producing outstanding linemen. He, along with junior Nick Hanks, should anchor both lines.
On offense, they'll be protecting returning starting quarterback Justin Pruett, who passed for 1,229 yards and 15 touchdowns last year.
Pruett will run a spread offense that plans to run the ball plenty with senior Marques Reynolds moving to the backfield from tight end.
"Our formation will be a spread, but we'll run with power," Wilson said. "We're not going to be a finesse team. Marques isn't a finesse player. I'm really impressed with Marques, because he really has a move. He's one of those guys that will make one move and keep going. I'm sure he'll run through you, but he's not afraid to put one move on you and go."
Wilson said the Red Raiders have plenty of talented options to choose from at receiver and in the defensive backfield, and a number of other positions were still up for grabs.
"There are about eight of them in the mix (at receiver)," Wilson said. "None of them really jump out right now, because they're all so good. They'll all be right there in the mix."
Reynolds should be a force at linebacker, though, along with Vazorka and Hanks up front.
"I've always been a guy that wants to swarm to the football," Wilson said. "I really believe in that first guy getting there and wrapping up and driving them back, and then having a bunch of your teammates come and pile on. I don't look for one individual big hit."
THREE PLAYERS TO WATCH
Reynolds moves back to his natural position of running back after starting at tight end last year. He should bring the thunder on offense and defense.
A year more mature, Pruett should be an excellent leader for the Red Raiders. He has already impressed his coaches with his arm strength.
At 285 pounds, Vazorka is a beast up front and may develop into the top lineman in the NWC. He'll also get a lot of looks from colleges.
THREE KEYS TO THE SEASON
1. Stay healthy
With only 40 players on the roster, depth could be an issue for the Red Raiders if the bumps and bruises start to pile up.
2. Stick together
Wilson has been impressed with the cohesiveness and optimism of this group during camp. Bellingham needs to maintain that if things get tough.
3. Find a deep threat
The Red Raiders lost their most dynamic player with the graduation of Oliver Dougherty. They need to find somebody that can stretch the defense and allow Reynolds to run.
Aug. 31 at Mount Baker 7 p.m.
Sept. 7 Burlington-Edison (at Civic Stadium)* 7 p.m.
Sept. 14 at Squalicum (at Civic Stadium)* 7 p.m.
Sept. 21 Blaine (at Civic Stadium)* 7 p.m.
Sept. 29 Sedro-Woolley (at Civic Stadium)* 7 p.m.
Oct. 5 at Lynden* 7 p.m.
Oct. 12 at Ferndale* 7 p.m.
Oct. 19 Anacortes (at Civic Stadium)* 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 26 at Sehome (at Civic Stadium)* 7 p.m.
*NWC 2A/3A game
2011 RESULTS (2-8, 0-8 NWC 0-7, NWC 2A)
South Whidbey W 17-0
at Lynden* L 45-7
at Mount Baker* L 41-12
Anacortes * L 42-27
Sehome* L 28-24
at Sedro-Woolley L 35-32
Blaine* L 61-34
at Squalicum* L 31-28
Burlington-Edison* L 51-20
at Granite Falls W 49-7
*NWC 2A game
2011 STATS LEADERS
RUSHING Att. Yards Avg. TD
Oliver Dougherty 97 549 5.7 9
Dominic Franklin 96 467 4.9 0
Justin Pruett* 73 354 4.8 3
PASSING Cmp. Att. Yards TD Int.
Justin Pruett* 73 214 1229 15 20
RECEIVING Rec. Yards Avg. TD
Oliver Dougherty 31 598 19.3 8
Kyle Redmond* 16 245 15.3 2
Jaleel Woods 7 199 28.4 1
No. Player Yr. Ht. Wt. Pos.
2 Patrick Anderson Sr. 5-11 155 QB/LB
3 Babak Abedsaidi Jr. 5-6 155 RB/DB
4 Nicholas Estrada Sr. 5-10 185 WR/LB
5 Noah Silverman Jr. 5-6 145 WR/DB/K
7 Christian Amano Jr. 5-3 135 WR/DB
8 Kevin Hernandez Sr. 5-10 157 WR/LB
9 Isaiah White So. 5-8 150 RB/DB
10 Kyle Redmond Sr. 5-10 156 WR/DB
11 Scott Tang Sr. 5-8 145 WR/DB
12 Zach Wilkens Sr. 6-2 185 WR/DL
13 Darice Haywood Sr. 5-11 150 WR/DB
14 Damir Alexandre VonRohrbach Jr. 6-0 170 QB/LB
15 Justin Pruett Sr. 6-0 175 QB
16 Joey Piedel Sr. 6-0 178 WR/LB
21 Elijahwa Ninnemann So. 6-1 180 WR/DL
22 Ferenc Boda Sr. 6-0 180 RB/LB
23 Jacob Thompson So. 5-8 135 WR/DB
24 Cyrus Davies Sr. 5-9 140 WR/DB
25 Adam Estrada So. 5-9 151 WR/DB
27 Alden Roberts So. 5-10 150 WR/DB
31 Marques Reynolds Sr. 6-1 215 RB/LB
33 Kaleb Smart So. 5-9 145 WR/DB/K
34 David Burnham Jr. 5-6 160 WR/LB
35 Melvin Deal Jr. 5-10 240 RB/LB
42 Zeke Smith So. 6-0 180 WR/LB
44 Tanner Aliff So. 5-11 160 RB/LB
50 Mark Springer Sr. 6-0 195 OL/DL
52 Anthony Smith Sr. 6-0 185 OL/DL
54 Thomas Vazorka Sr. 6-6 285 OL/DL
55 Macleod Kendricks So. 6-2 205 OL/DL
56 Braden Farlow Jr. 6-0 185 OL/LB
57 Spencer Marshall-Rodenberg So. 5-9 205 OL/DL
59 Nick Hanks Jr. 6-0 215 OL/DL
60 Branden Komac Jr. 5-8 175 OL/DL
61 Blair Bennett So. 5-11 172 OL/DL
63 Dylan Hanson So. 6-0 255 OL/DL
70 Jacob Thorsteinson So. 6-1 298 OL/DL
73 Sam Knowles Sr. 6-1 280 OL/DL
80 Austin Bavaro Sr. 5-7 136 WR/DB
81 Eric Thompson So. 5-9 140 WR/DB
Reach DAVID RASBACH at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 715-2271.