It's all about the finish this year for the Lummi football team.
Last year certainly didn't conclude the way the Blackhawks had hoped, coming off their first Class 1B state championship in 2010. Rather than getting back to the Tacoma Dome, Lummi's hopes were dashed at Civic Stadium in the first round by old Northwest Football League rival Neah Bay with a 58-40 second-half comeback win.
"Last year definitely didn't finish the way we wanted, and I think a lot of guys took that to heart," Lummi coach Jim Sandusky said in a phone interview.
To that end, Sandusky said the Blackhawks have had one of their most productive offseasons.
Part of that, of course, is the excitement surrounding the new FieldTurf surface the school installed this summer and will dedicate with a 12:30 p.m. ceremony before its season opener against Pomeroy on Saturday, Sept. 1.
But Sandusky said he's seen a hunger in his team that would have spilled over to a dirt lot, if that's what the Blackhawks called home.
"That's encouraging to see," Sandusky said. "It's on their plate. I can lead them to the water, but I can't make them drink. They have got to want it and work for it, and I think they've showed that they really want it this year."
What Sandusky and his coaching staff have attempted to stress is to finish strong. Not just the season, but every play, every block, every tackle - everything.
"Play to the echo of the whistle is what we're preaching this year," Sandusky said.
Some of that will certainly come with more experience.
After graduating a strong senior class following the 2010 championship, Lummi played three or four freshmen significantly last year.
"The younger guys got a lot of experience, and they made some mistakes," Sandusky said. "That's all part of it. Those guys are now experienced. That's not to say they won't makes mistakes this year, but they're more likely to make less and they can correct them quicker."
Senior Jared Tom returns at quarterback and will share duties with junior Logan Toby, who had an outstanding year for the junior varsity squad last year.
Deion Hoskins is back at running back, and he's looking even bigger and stronger than last year. He'll be joined by newcomer Dimitri Sampson, who transferred in mid-season last year and was a star for the baseball team.
"He is one of our faster players, and I'm pretty sure he will make his mark," Sandusky said.
As always, the Blackhawks will have plenty of receiving threats for their fast-break offense, including Austin Brockie, who piled up 1,184 yards and 21 touchdowns. Jordan Deardorff is also back, while Dino Williams returns from a broken ankle suffered early last year. Also in the mix are transfer Richard Edwards and Jaycob Martin.
Lummi returns all three seniors on the offensive line in Jeremy Spottedbear, Eli Wall and Kevin Cultee, and youngster Hank Hoskins figures to rotate in to give him some time on the field.
Just as in 2010, Lummi is upping its focus on playing hard-nosed defense.
"I think the guys have got a good understanding what we want on defense," Sandusky said. "We have a good base defense, and we have guys that can adjust on the fly. ... The key is finishing tackles and finishing the play so that we can stop the run."
Hank Hoskins and Deion Hoskins will be big players on the defensive line and at linebacker, while Devin Cooper and transfer Leo Scarbourough will be the outside linebackers. Wall, Sampson and Deardorff will likely be in the mix at defensive end, with Williams and Brockie strong on the corners.
Lummi is in the Northwest Football League's North Division along with Neah Bay, Crescent, Clallam Bay, Lopez and Tulalip.
Sandusky said he expects Neah Bay to again be a state participant, and Lopez should be a quality team, as the division will send four teams through to the district playoffs against teams from the NWFL South Division.
"I think we're in the mix (to compete for a state title)," Sandusky said. "We have the potential to be right there. We have to focus on finishing plays and not get ahead of ourselves. That's a positive that came out of last year."
THREE PLAYERS TO WATCH
Tom got a lot of experience last year while passing for 2,364 yards and 35 touchdowns. His ability to read defenses, get the ball to receivers and run Lummi's fast-break offense are invaluable.
Sampson transferred to the school too late to play football last year, but he brings tremendous athleticism and speed to the field. He should be a star in the Blackhawks' backfield.
Lummi returns its entire starting line with Wall, Jeremy Spottedbear and Kevin Cultee. Wall should also be a factor upfront for the Blackhawks defensively.
THREE KEYS TO THE SEASON
1. Get defensive
After allowing 24.0 points in the 12 eight-man games in played in 2010, that average swelled to 27.3 last year. Lummi has always been able to score points, but stopping opponents from doing so can make them great.
2. Finish strong
This has two meanings. First, Lummi is focusing on finishing each and every play, both offensively and defensively, to succeed. Second, the Blackhawks need to be playing their best football entering the postseason.
3. Utilize the fast track
The new FieldTurf playing surface has created a lot of excitement for the team this year, but it also should produce some mismatches for Lummi's speedy skill position players to exploit.
Sept. 1 Pomeroy 1 p.m.
Sept. 7 at La Conner^ 7 p.m.
Sept. 14 Taholah 7 p.m.
Sept. 22 at Evergreen Lutheran (at Mountainview) 1 p.m.
Sept. 28 Neah Bay* 7 p.m.
Oct. 6 at Crescent* 2 p.m.
Oct. 11 at Muckleshoot 6 p.m.
Oct. 13 Clallam Bay* 6 p.m.
Oct. 20 at Lopez* 2 p.m.
Oct. 25 Tulalip* 7 p.m.
*NWFL game; ^11-man game
2011 RESULTS (11-1, 8-0 NWFL)
at Neah Bay W 38-36
Rainier Christian* W 62-22
St. Paul (Ore.) W 54-48
Crescent* W 57-14
at Tulalip* W 59-26
at Evergreen Lutheran* W 81-32
at Quilcene* W 63-18
Highland* W 56-14
Neah Bay* W 40-12
Muckleshoot* W 2-0 (forfeit)
CLASS 1B TRI-DISTRICT PLAYOFFS
Crescent (at Civic Stadium) W 65-20
CLASS 1B STATE PLAYOFFS
Neah Bay (at Civic Stadium) L 58-40
2011 STATS LEADERS
RUSHING Att. Yards Avg. TD
Robert Scott 69 685 9.9 9
Deion Hoskins* 64 623 9.7 12
Jared Tom* 64 558 8.7 6
PASSING Cmp. Att. Yards TD Int.
Jared Tom* 114 174 2,364 35 3
RECEIVING Rec. Yards Avg. TD
Austin Brockie* 46 1,184 25.7 21
Deion Hoskins* 29 351 12.1 8
Jordan Deardorff* 17 317 18.6 4
No. Player Yr. Ht. Wt. Pos.
1 Austin Brockie So. 5-10 180 WR/DB
2 Jonathan Casimir Fr. 5-11 147 QB/DB
4 Eli Wall Sr. 5-11 221 OL/LB
5 Logan Toby Jr. 5-11 172 QB/LB
6 Eagle Hawk Jr. 5-9 153 WR/DB
7 Dimitri Sampson Sr. 6-1 185 RB/DE
8 Richard Jefferson Sr. 5-10 155 WR/DB
9 Devin Cooper So. 5-9 148 RB/LB
10 Jared Tom Sr. 6-0 174 QB/LB
12 Leo Scarbourough Sr. 5-8 155 RB/DB
13 Free Borsey 8th 5-6 120 WR/LB
17 Jordan Deardorff Sr. 5-11 167 WR/DB
18 Anthony Phare Sr. 5-8 175 OL/DL
20 Elder Roberts 8th 5-6 140 RB/LB
21 Dino Williams So. 5-10 150 RB/DB
22 Jaycob Martin Sr. 5-9 164 WR/DB
23 Donald George Sr. 6-2 205 OL/DE
24 Hank Hoskins Fr. 5-7 175 RB/LB
25 Enrique Medina So. 5-9 144 WR/DB
26 Richard Edwards Sr. 6-0 176 WR/DE
27 Deion Hoskins Jr. 5-11 241 RB/LB
32 Willie Jones So. 6-2 185 WR/DE
33 Jeffrey Cultee Fr. 5-5 134 WR/DB
34 Kyle Jefferson Sr. 5-6 151 WR/DB
40 Jason James Fr. 5-8 148 OL/DL
43 Malich Roberts Fr. 6-1 162 WR/DE
50 Darian Williams Jr. 5-11 238 OL/DL
52 Terrance Solomon 8th 5-7 198 OL/DL
59 Jeremy Spottedbear Sr. 6-1 234 OL/DL
66 Shawn Diggs Fr. 5-9 295 OL/DL
72 Adam Lawrence So. 5-11 284 OL/DL
75 Tyler Martin 8th 5-5 155 OL/DL
77 Alex Jefferson So. 5-9 267 OL/DL
88 Gene Cultee So. 5-11 173 OL/LB
90 Kevin Cultee Sr. 5-11 196 OL/DL
91 James J. Lawrence So. 5-11 222 OL/DL
Reach DAVID RASBACH at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 715-2271.