BELLINGHAM - The last time Sehome had a winning football team, this year's freshmen were in first grade. In the seven seasons since going 6-4 in 2004, the Mariners have gone a combined 17-55 (.236 winning percentage).
It's not that Sehome doesn't have athletes - they've got plenty of them. All you have to do is look at the success of almost every other program at the school during that time.
First-year coach Bob Norvell and the Mariners are ready for it to be their turn in 2012.
"I think what we've done is intensified a few things, and the kids have really bought in," Norvell said. "Sehome kids are used to working hard. (Baseball coach Gary) Hatch has had plenty of success with his programs. The track program is awesome. AJ (LaBree) has been making the playoffs in basketball. The guys know how to do it, they just don't know how to do it in football. I think it's us extending that football base and making it a little more like the next level."
Results are already beginning to show, as Sehome lists 59 players on its varsity roster - way up from where the program has been in years past.
And it's not just numbers that turned out - there are athletes.
That starts at quarterback, where Austin Rapp returns to start for a third straight year.
Rapp should be joined in the backfield, once again, by standout tailback Titi Lamositele, who has rushed for 1,323 bruising yards and 14 touchdowns the past two years.
"Titi is just a force in and of himself," Norvell said. "I just have to teach Titi that he doesn't have to win the game on every play, because he wants to."
Lamositele won't have to carry the team by himself, because the passing game figures to improve with targets like Mo Williams, Willy Lallas, Matt Haggen and Brice and Forrest Longanecker, along with tight end Daniel Goebel, for the Mariners, who will utilize the spread offense.
"I look for those seniors to step in and contribute a lot," Norvell said.
Norvell, who played offensive line at Washington State, is looking for the guys up front, led by Jordan Patrick and returning starter Tyler Haggen, to do the same.
Speed is expected to be a key on defense for the Mariners, especially with lock-down corners Rapp and Williams. Bo Banner also is looking for a big season at defensive end, while Norvell is expecting junior Daniel Ziegler to emerge as a star from either the secondary or at linebacker.
And of course, the physical presence in the middle of the Mariners defense will be Lamositele at linebacker.
"I think our fans are going to like what they see at Sehome," Norvell said. "We need them to come out and support us. Hopefully we can give back to them what they've given to us."
THREE PLAYERS TO WATCH
Rapp brings outstanding athleticism and intelligence to Sehome's offensive and defensive backfields along with his tremendous work ethic and leadership skills.
Lamositele is as big as many linemen in the area and is tough to bring down when he gets rolling. He's equally as valuable in the middle of the Mariners' defense.
Williams' explosiveness should make a difference for the Sehome offense, while he and Rapp give the Mariners a pair of lock-down corners on defense.
THREE KEYS TO THE SEASON
1. Learn how to win
Winning in football is a bit different from doing it in any other sport, and the Mariners just need to get confidence that they are capable of grabbing victories on Friday nights.
2. Don't lose confidence
Three of Sehome's first NWC 2A/3A games are against perennial powers Ferndale, Lynden and Burlington-Edison. Even if the results aren't favorable in those games, Sehome can have a successful season with a strong finish.
3. Tighten things up defensively
Sehome allowed 34.4 points per game last year, and that number must go down. The Mariners plan to rely on defensive team speed this year.
Aug. 31 at Nooksack Valley 7 p.m.
Sept. 7 at Ferndale* 7 p.m.
Sept. 15 Anacortes (at Civic Stadium)* 7 p.m.
Sept. 21 at Meridian 7 p.m.
Sept. 28 Lynden (at Civic Stadium)* 7 p.m.
Oct. 5 at Burlington-Edison* 7 p.m.
Oct. 12 Squalicum (at Civic Stadium)* 7 p.m.
Oct. 19 at Sedro-Woolley* 7 p.m.
Oct. 26 Bellingham (at Civic Stadium)* 7 p.m.
*NWC 2A/3A game
2011 RESULTS (3-7 2-6 NWC 1-5 NWC 2A)
at Lynden Christian W 34-14
Burlington-Edison* L 36-13
Mount Vernon L 47-7
Lynden* L 40-6
at Bellingham* W 28-24
at Anacortes* L 22-0
Squalicum* L 38-14
Mount Baker* L 55-0
at Blaine* L 48-14
Sultan W 21-20
*NWC 2A game
2011 STATS LEADERS
RUSHING Att. Yards Avg. TD
Titi Lamositele* 96 537 5.6 6
Austin Rapp* 100 455 4.6 4
Eric Ho 75 398 5.3 4
PASSING Cmp. Att. Yards TD Int.
Austin Rapp* 64 147 860 4 6
RECEIVING Rec. Yards Avg. TD
Daniel Goebel* Sr. 245 20.4 3
Willie Lallas* 17 189 11.1 1
Lawrence Strasser Sr. 144 12.0 0
No. Player Yr. Ht. Wt. Pos.
2 Tyler Knutsen Sr. NA NA NA
3 Brice Longanecker Sr. 5-10 170 RB/SS
6 Forrest Longanecker Sr. 5-8 175 RB/LB
11 Matt Haggen Sr. 6-0 180 WR/DB
12 Sam Diehl Jr. 6-1 160 K/WR
14 Austin Rapp Sr. 6-2 220 QB/CB
18 Tanner Clark So. 5-10 140 WR/DB
18 Josh Larson So. 6-1 160 QB/LB
20 Skyler Conner Jr. NA NA NA
21 Blaise Black Jr. 5-8 150 RB/LB
22 Taylor Rapp Fr. 5-11 185 RB/S
23 Daniel Ziegler Jr. 5-8 165 QB/CB
24 Jose Gutierrez Sr. 5-6 150 RB
25 Daniel Goebel Sr. 5-10 190 TE
30 Willy Lallas Sr. 5-11 185 WR
33 Gary Vanieperen Jr. 5-8 160 RB/LB
35 Austin Vosburgh Jr. NA NA NA
36 Titi Lamositele Sr. 6-0 245 RB/LB
43 Josh Slesk So. 5-7 150 RB/LB
44 Evan Villalobos Sr. 5-6 160 FB/LB
45 Jesse Haggen Jr. 6-0 190 RB/LB
50 Duncan James So. 6-2 195 DE
52 Elijah Andrushendo So. 6-2 190 TE/DE
53 Erik Lane Sr. 6-0 170 WR/DE
54 James Jaime Sr. 6-3 250 OL/DL
55 Steven Gorosave Sr. 5-10 190 OL/DL
57 Jordan Patrick Sr. 5-9 175 OL/LB
58 Sam Carroll So. 6-2 160 TE
61 Drew Norvell So. 6-3 240 C/DT
62 Austin Nolan Sr. 6-2 225 OL/DL
64 Cameron Carter Jr. 6-4 310 LT
64 Alex Kinsman Jr. 6-2 570 DT/NG
65 George Loeppky So. 6-4 210 G/DT
66 Lucas Mallahan Sr. 6-0 270 Bl/DT
68 Austin Roasa So. 6-0 255 DL
71 Tyler Haggen So. 6-3 235 OL/DL
73 James Foster Sr. NA NA NA
74 Brady Lehman Jr. 6-2 190 C/DT
75 Josh Witman Sr. 6-1 220 DT
76 Devon Tefft-Meeker Sr. 6-1 275 RT
77 Caleb Leavitt Sr. 5-11 225 OL/DL
79 Devin Robins Sr. 6-7 290 Ot/DT
80 Drake Zinns So. 6-0 145 WR/DB
81 Austin Meggyesy So. 5-11 165 RB/DB
82 Tyler Hruby So. 5-10 165 RB/LB
84 Joe Guevara Jr. NA NA NA
85 Michael Defries Sr. 5-7 145 WR/DB
87 Nick Martinez Sr. 6-5 230 DE
88 Jose Ramirez Jr. 5-11 150 WR/CB
90 Bo Banner Sr. 6-3 220 WR/DE
NA Cody Carter So. 6-2 250 RT
NA Issac Day Jr. NA NA NA
NA Harmon Kanemitsu So. 5-9 170 Sr/LB
NA Zach Larson So. 5-11 155 TE/DE
NA Max Mccreery So. 6-2 220 OL/DL
NA Collin Mcdonell So. 6-0 200 OL/DL
NA Gunnar Nelson So. 5-7 130 WR
NA Aaron Nichols So. 5-11 165 QQ
NA Mo Williams Sr. 5-11 180 WR/CB
Reach DAVID RASBACH at email@example.com or call 715-2271.