DEMING - Mount Baker coach Ron Lepper is known for his booming voice, which can be heard all the way across the football practice field, even when logging trucks race past on the Mount Baker Highway.
But even his voice shot up a couple of octaves on Wednesday morning, Aug. 28, when he called for his team to go through the Oklahoma drill.
One defensive lineman against one offensive lineman, a quarterback and a running back - full contact and with everyone huddled around cheering on the big hits.
"That drill over there - guys going at it, head-to-head, making the play - it's a battle," Mountaineers senior running back Seth Bass said. "If you lose, you want to go back and do it again. You don't want to lose. That's the big thing for us - you don't ever want to lose the battle, win."
Make no doubt about it, the Mount Baker football team loves living up to its reputation for toughness.
"I just get fired up watching that drill," senior running back Izaiha Schwinden said. "I like watching my teammates making good plays and hitting hard."
Expect more of the same from the Mountaineers this year after the team advanced to the state semifinals in 2012 for the first time in the program's history.
"We want to get it done again," senior lineman Jake Oiness said. "We want to keep the enthusiasm up (from last year)."
Though the Mountaineers lost a number of crucial pieces off that team, they feel they have still have the athletes to make it back to the Tacoma Dome and possibly go even further.
But the only way to do that is the Baker way - toughness and togetherness.
"Guys are still working hard," Bass said. "They really want to get back to where they were. We don't want a drop off. They want to go even further. ... It's going to take all 11 guys on the field doing what they need to do to get the job done."
Players have already started to get the job done, Schwinden said, during offseason workouts.
"I've noticed a lot of guys working hard, and I've seen a lot of guys in the weight room," he said. "We've all put in the work - the whole senior class and even some of the juniors have stepped up and put in the hard work. ... The success we had last year just kind of proves if we work hard, we can actually get things done, and that is something we've tried to carry over to this season. We're not trying to dwell on last season, this senior class just wants to carry it on and make a name for ourselves."
Mount Baker is scheduled to open the season Saturday, Sept. 7, against Bellingham at Civic Stadium, assuming the new artificial surface is ready to roll.
Reach David Rasbach at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-715-2286.
FOOTBALL CAMP UPDATES
This is the ninth of 11 preseason looks at the high school football programs in Whatcom County. Look for the 2013 season preview in the Friday, Sept. 6, edition of The Bellingham Herald.
Reach DAVID RASBACH at email@example.com or call 715-2271.