Meridian football coach Bob Ames is renowned for his one-liners, especially when it comes to downplaying what he thinks of his team.
This year's gems include his musings on what it's going to take for his team to succeed: "Maybe dysentery hitting everybody else in the county. Failing grades the week before we play them, then we'll be pretty successful."
In fact, if you want a straight answer out of Ames, it's usually best to stick to safe topics such as his home state of Hawaii, old movie lines, his grandchildren and raising horses.
But this year, Ames did give up one nugget about his team mixed in with comments about how small, slow and inexperienced the Trojans are - he truly does like Meridian's makeup.
"We'll have a lot more success in intangibles than we will on the scoreboard," he said. "I really do love these kids. They're great guys to be around. Typical Meridian kids, though - they're late to practice because they're helping old ladies across the street on the Guide."
Beyond that, though, even Ames doesn't know exactly what to expect from this year's group. And if he did, he certainly wouldn't say it.
Inexperience - some of it brought on by graduation and some it by the loss of at least two starters to offseason, non-football-related injuries - create a lot of questions entering the 2013 season.
The one definite is Meridian might have the best lineman in the Northwest Conference to build around in Spencer Blackburn, who has gotten NCAA Division I interest but no offers yet from a number of schools around the region, including Washington State and Boise State, Ames said.
"He's a really good player," Ames said. "Good leader, strong, physical. You don't have many (260)-pounders that can play that way. I think everybody is going to try him. We'll figure something out. But one man does not a team make."
Blackburn will likely be joined up front on defense by Tucker Garcia and Blake Carson. Bryce Garcia and Adam Mydland will lead the linebacking group that is still shaking out, while Letrez Jones at corner is the only definite in the secondary.
"We're still working things out," Ames said. "We have a lot more questions than answers now. We'll be on everybody's wish list for games."
Blackburn also will anchor the Trojans' offensive front and be joined by fellow seniors Tucker Garcia, Jacob Dennis and center Kaleb Heezen along with Carson, who is a junior.
Junior Tanner Tutterrow looked like a sure bet to take over at quarterback, but Ames said he developed "slap shoulder" in July playing baseball, and his status is uncertain. Converted guard/tight end Jamison Hodge likely will see his share of snaps, as well.
Jones likely will be Meridian's primary running back, and he'll be a good one, though Bryce Garcia also will be instrumental. Ames said the receivers will be by committee between Sam Chambers, Kyle Linderman and Jacob Plagerman.
"We've got great kids, great leaders and they have fun and like being around each other. That's what high school football is all about. You make those memories in your 21/2 to three months together that will carry over for the rest of your life." - Meridian coach Bob Ames
KEYS TO THE SEASON
1. Stay out of the infirmary
While Meridian isn't actually wishing dysentery on any opponents, it's already had its own outbreak of injuries. Any more would be tough to overcome.
2. Avoid Black(burn)outs
There's little doubt that teams will attempt to avoid Spencer Blackburn, especially on defense. Other Trojans need to step up to make them pay for that choice.
3. Build toward October
The early schedule could be tough, especially as Meridian answers a number of questions. But if they're strong in NWC 1A play, the Trojans have a shot.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Spencer Blackburn, Senior OL/DL
He's already been a rock on the lines for Meridian the past two seasons. The Trojans need the possible Division I recruit to be simply special this year.
Letrez Jones, Senior RB/DB
Ames said he's looked good in camp this summer, as he attempts to build on the 469 yards and six touchdowns he generated on offense last year.
Tucker Garcia, Senior OL/DL
Will be a valuable piece along Meridian's front after he started last year. As with Blackburn, the team will look to him for leadership and experience.
Tanner Tutterrow, Junior QB
The health of his shoulder could play a big role in determining if Meridian makes it to state for a fifth straight season or not. His father is a former Trojans QB.
Sept. 6 at Burlington-Edison 7 p.m.
Feb. 13 Lakewood 7 p.m.
Sept. 21 at Tri-Cities Prep 2 p.m.
Sept. 27 at Sehome (at Civic Stadium) 7 p.m.
Oct. 4 at Friday Harbor* 7 p.m.
Oct. 11 Nooksack Valley* 7 p.m.
Oct. 18 Blaine* 7 p.m.
Oct. 25 at Lynden Christian* 7 p.m.
Oct. 31 Mount Baker* 7 p.m.
*NWC 1A game
8-5, 3-2 NWC 1A
Aug. 31 Burlington-Edison L 42-8
Sept. 7 at Lakewood L 41-28
Sept. 14 Lord Tweedsmuir (B.C.) W 20-7
Sept. 21 Sehome W 19-13
Sept. 28 Friday Harbor* W 27-26
Oct. 5 at Nooksack Valley* W 42-14
Oct. 12 at Blaine* L 34-27
Oct. 19 Lynden Christian* W 28-7
Oct. 26 at Mount Baker* L 30-8
CLASS 1A NORTHWEST DISTRICT PLAYOFFS
Oct. 30 Coupeville (half game at Blaine) W 34-6
Oct. 30 at Blaine (half game) W 15-14
CLASS 1A TRI-DISTRICT PLAYOFFS
Nov. 3 at Eatonville W 26-15
CLASS 1A STATE PLAYOFFS
Nov. 10 at La Center L 29-13
*NWC 1A game
2012 STATISTICAL LEADERS
Player Att. Yards Avg. TD
Junior Castro 138 671 4.9 2
Letrez Jones* 98 469 4.8 6
Max McGuinn 119 396 3.3 6
Player Cmp. Att. Yards TD Int.
Max McGuinn 153 304 1,841 20 23
RECEIVING Rec. Yards Avg. TD
Relijah McMillen 47 667 14.2 11
Sam Chambers* 28 315 11.3 2
Drake VanderYacht 17 253 14.9 2
No. Player Year Ht. Wt.
1 Letrez Jones Sr. 5-6 140
2 Marcus McGuinn So. 6-0 125
3 Devyn Holmes So. 5-10 160
7 Tanner Tutterrow Jr. 5-6 165
9 Jacob Plagerman Sr. 5-7 150
10 Kyle Linderman Sr. 5-6 145
11 Danner Linderman Sr. 5-5 140
15 Yoel Ortiz Sr. 5-4 125
16 Adam Mydland Jr. 5-10 180
17 Jamison Hodge Sr. 5-8 165
18 Josiah Knoll So. 5-7 140
20 Kevin Castro Jr. 5-5 140
22 Bryce Garcia Sr. 5-5 145
24 Sam Chambers Sr. 5-8 145
27 Isaiah Thompson Jr. 5-7 150
31 Cody Bachman Jr. 5-5 135
34 Dakota Jones So. 5-6 150
38 Mack Hughes So. 5-5 130
40 Erick Price Jr. 5-5 130
42 Zeke Smith Jr. 5-10 160
43 Harjaap Atwal Jr. 5-9 135
44 Koby Smith So. 5-6 130
50 Tucker Garcia Sr. 5-6 180
51 Kaleb Heezen Sr. 5-9 170
52 Jeff Holland So. 5-8 150
54 Austin Stewart So. 5-8 140
55 Jacob Dennis Sr. 5-10 175
58 Joey Bell Sr. 5-10 170
59 Dustin Hardesty So. 5-9 160
60 Jetson Pitsch So. 5-8 160
67 William Moreland So. 5-10 160
70 Edvard Yelfimov Sr. 5-6 150
71 Jackson Day So. 5-5 135
76 Spencer Blackburn Sr. 6-0 185
77 Treven Elgersma Jr. 5-5 150
79 Blake Carson Jr. 5-8 175
80 Thomas Nau So. 5-2 140
82 Daniel Young So. 5-11 140
83 Kyle Young Jr. 6-0 165
85 Suki Virk Jr. 5-5 145
86 Nick Miller Jr. 6-0 140
88 Alan Eyoub So. 5-5 140
89 Christopher Poortinga So. 5-7 145
Reach Sports Editor David Rasbach at 360-715-2271 or firstname.lastname@example.org .