BELLINGHAM - Don't expect anything to be slow or methodical about the Squalicum football team in 2013.
Not getting into the huddle, not getting to the line and certainly not once the ball is snapped.
There's really not even a half or three-quarter speed in practice.
"We've worked on our tempo a lot and have been picking it up," said senior Neall Koetje, who ran a leg on the Storm's state championship 4x400 relay team last spring. "This year has been fun. We have a lot of depth now, and we have a lot of speed. We've been working hard to develop it. ... We've been working on going full speed every rep and getting everything out of it we can. We're minimizing the jogging and slacking off."
There's a reason Squalicum doesn't want any slacking off - it doesn't want to waste an opportunity it's been anxiously anticipating.
For the past two seasons, coach Reed Richardson has raved about the wealth of talented skill position players he's had working their way up.
But it's not just the running backs and receivers that have been focusing on using their speed.
"We've emphasized speed a lot," senior lineman Joel Jensen said. "It teaches us to go and give our all on every play. We need to be able to get out and make blocks for our backs and receivers so they can score touchdowns."
The Storm showed good ability to do that last season, as it averaged 27.1 points per game.
It ended up finished tied for third in the Northwest Conference 2A/3A before losing to Archbishop Murphy in the district playoffs.
This year Squalicum has its sights set on something much bigger - the first state playoff appearance in the program's history.
While its team speed should definitely help in that endeavor, it's going to take something more.
"As a team, I think we really need to stick together and trust each other," senior Nick Manchester said.
Fortunately, the Storm already seems to be doing a good job of that.
Most of Squalicum's core group has been playing together on the varsity level since they were sophomores or freshmen.
Though that might have meant they took some lumps when they were younger, that experience has helped develop team chemistry.
"I felt like as a young team, we were really able to develop as one, instead of as individuals," Manchester said. "We really came together with a lot of team bonding, so we trust each other to do our jobs. We've been playing together for a long time - a lot of these guys for as long as I can remember. I think that really brings us together."
The Storm opens the season Sept. 6 at Kingston, before it hopes to host Sedro-Woolley at Civic Stadium in a Sept. 14 game that could be crucial in the NWC 2A race in Week 2.
Reach David Rasbach at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-715-2286.
FOOTBALL CAMP UPDATES
This is the fourth of 11 preseason looks at the high school football programs in Whatcom County. Look for the 2013 season preview in the Sept. 6 edition of The Bellingham Herald
Reach DAVID RASBACH at email@example.com or call 715-2271.