In its first year under coach Bob Norvell, the Sehome football team took its first step - learning how to be competitive.
Not only did the Mariners' four wins in 2012 match their season high during the Northwest Conference era (since 2006), but five of their six losses came by 11 or fewer points - four of them they were within a touchdown and a 2-point conversion.
"We did a good job of learning to compete last year," Norvell said. "That was a big goal for us."
But this year, that won't be enough. This year, Norvell wants to see some of those close losses turn into close victories.
"I think we're on the right path, but I don't think we're there yet," Norvell said.
But he said he sees signs that things are changing.
He said the team has focused on building the necessary size and strength he feels can get it over the top in some of those close games.
And he said he's already seeing a change of attitude - from thinking it can win to knowing it can.
"I think with the influx of a few guys like Daniel Ziegler, who came from a football community (Tehachapi, Calif.), he's helped raise our football awareness," Norvell said. "This junior class has played sports for a long time, and that's really helping. So I think it's a combination of things. To continue having guys that are out here coaching football fundamentals, that's a big deal for us. All of that is leading us in the right direction."
Ziegler, now a senior, burst onto the scene last year, dazzling fans and frustrating opponents with his blazing speed and athleticism and quickly gaining his teammates' respect with his desire to win.
He split his time between quarterback, running back and receiver last year, and with the graduation of Austin Rapp, he's expected to start behind center this year. But Norvell said the Mariners still plan to utilize his abilities at other positions when they rotate in junior Aaron Nichols behind center.
Ziegler and Nichols will have a big, physical interior line in front of them with center Drew Norvell and guards Tyler Haggen and Austin Rosas.
"That's three big juniors that are already good and are going to get better as they go," Norvell said. "It's going to be a huge difference from the size Sehome has had in the past. A couple of years ago, we had a center that was 180 pounds. This year, we're going to average 240 pounds across the front."
Taking advantage of that will be downhill runner Taylor Rapp and scat backs Austin Vosburgh, Blaise Black and Skyler Conner, while Samuel Diehl and newcomer Evan Miksovsky will likely be the top receivers.
Drew Norvell, Haggen and Rosas will anchor the defensive line, while the Mariners look strong at outside linebacker with Tyler Hruby and Vosburgh.
Bob Norvell also is excited about the secondary, with Austin Meggyesy and Rapp at safety and Ziegler at corner.
"I think for Sehome, we have to believe that we can compete. They got a taste of it last year, because we were in a lot of football games. Even the games we weren't in, we had chances. They could see it. I think we need to learn to compete and rise from that." - Sehome coach Bob Norvell
KEYS TO THE SEASON
1. Hold on to the ball
The quickest way to turn a close win into a close loss is turning the ball over, and Sehome committed about five per game in 2012.
2. Ride the line
After years of getting beat up, Sehome is big and strong in the middle of both lines. The Mariners must use that to be more physical than opponents.
3. Catch some Zs
Daniel Ziegler showed last year he is equally dangerous running and throwing the ball and on the returns. Expect more big things from him this year.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Tyler Haggen, Junior OL/DL
Haggen is part of a big interior line, along with Drew Norvell and Austin Rosas. They're only juniors, so they're going to get better and be around for a while.
Daniel Ziegler, Senior QB/CB
The California transfer broke onto the scene last year, rushing for 521 yards. He'll likely get more time at quarterback this year to showcase his talent.
Taylor Rapp, Sophomore WR/S
Older brother Austin is a walk on at Washington State, and Taylor has just as much, if not more, athleticism. Sehome will count heavily on the downhill runner who can catch.
Samuel Diehl, Senior WR/K
Looked good over the summer at receiver and could team up with newcomer Evan Miksovsky to make a formidable receiving duo this year.
Sept. 7 Nooksack Valley (at Civic Stadium) 1 p.m.
Sept. 13 Ferndale (at Civic Stadium)* 7 p.m.
Sept. 20 at Anacortes 7 p.m.
Sept. 27 Meridian (at Civic Stadium) 7 p.m.
Oct. 4 at Lynden* 7 p.m.
Oct. 12 Burlington-Edison (at Civic Stadium)* 7 p.m.
Oct. 18 at Squalicum (at Civic Stadium)* 7 p.m.
Oct. 25 Sedro-Woolley (at Civic Stadium)* 7 p.m.
Oct. 31 at Bellingham (at Civic Stadium)* 7 p.m.
*NWC 2A/3A game
4-6, 3-4 NWC 2A/3A
Aug. 31 at Nooksack Valley L 17-6
Sept. 7 at Ferndale* L 35-29
Sept. 15 Anacortes (at Civic Stadium)* W 48-14
Sept. 21 at Meridian L 19-13
Sept. 28 Lynden (at Civic Stadium)* L 41-0
Oct. 5 at Burlington-Edison* W 30-29
Oct. 12 Squalicum (at Civic Stadium)* L 28-20
Oct. 19 at Sedro-Woolley* L 21-13
Oct. 26 Bellingham (at Civic Stadium)* W 18-6
Nov. 2 Sammamish (at Civic Stadium) W 62-29
*NWC 2A/3A game
2012 STATISTICAL LEADERS
Player Att. Yards Avg. TD
Titi Lamositele 106 802 7.6 4
Daniel Ziegler* 55 521 9.5 11
Austin Rapp 87 414 4.8 3
Player Cmp. Att. Yards TD Int.
Austin Rapp 41 95 612 3 2
RECEIVING Rec. Yards Avg. TD
Taylor Rapp* 11 175 15.9 0
Daniel Ziegler* 9 136 15.1 1
Malik Williams 5 122 24.4 2
No. Player Yr. Ht. Wt. Pos.
1 Gavin Kaepernick So. 5-11 165 QB
3 Skyler Conner Sr. 5-10 200 LB/RB
5 Jose Ramirez Sr. 5-10 165 WR/CB
7 Taylor Rapp So. 6-0 195 WR/S
8 Austin Vosburgh Sr. 5-8 190 LB/RB
10 Daniel Ziegler Sr. 5-8 160 QB/CB
11 Samuel Diehl Sr. 6-3 180 WR/K
12 Evan Miksovsky Sr. 6-0 185 WR/S
15 Luke Lowry-Brye Sr. 5-10 180 WR/LB
16 Ethan Vinup Sr. 5-10 200 -
17 Joe Guevara Sr. 5-10 165 WR
18 Aaron Nichols Jr. 5-10 160 QB/S
20 Blaise Black Sr. 5-9 160 RB/CB
21 Austin Meggyesy Jr. 6-1 185 WR/DB
24 Gary Vanieperen Sr. 5-9 175 RB/LB
25 Jonny Reid Jr. 6-0 195 S/WR
26 Larry Waters So. 5-8 185 -
27 Tanner Patrick So. 5-8 185 LB/RB
28 Devon Wakelin Jr. 5-10 175 -
30 Tyler Hruby Jr. 6-0 185 RB/LB
32 Sam Carroll Jr. 6-4 170 WR/CB
33 Daton Nestlebush So. 5-8 175 LB/RB
34 Josh Slesk Jr. 5-9 170 LB/RB
35 Max Diehl So. 5-8 170 LB/RB
36 Zach Zimmerman So. 6-0 205 LB/RB
37 Kevin Sun So. 5-5 150 RB
38 Jace Rinker So. 5-10 175 WR/S
41 Scott McIvor-Garman So. 6-4 205 TE/LB
42 Preston Zapien-Baldwin So. 5-7 165 -
44 Kyle Clemenson So. 5-7 145 LB/RB
51 Briley Funk So. 6-1 240 NG/G
53 Zeke Pavlosky So. 6-0 170 LB
54 Duncan James Jr. 6-4 220 RT/DE
59 Michael Ganow So. 6-0 285 RT/RG/DT
60 Drew Norvell Jr. 6-4 270 C/DT
66 Nick Coats So. 5-10 190 C/DE
68 Austin Rosas Jr. 6-1 255 DE/LG
69 Cody Carter Jr. 6-3 280 LG
71 Tyler Haggen Jr. 6-3 250 OL/DL
72 Collin McDonell Jr. 6-1 210 OL/DL
75 George Loeppky Jr. 6-5 240 T/DT
76 Jeremy Johnson So. 6-3 240 OL/DL
77 Brady Lehman Sr. 6-2 230 DL
79 Alex Kinsman Sr. 6-2 300 NG/RG
80 Drake Zinns Jr. 6-0 150 WR/DB
81 Gabriel Weight So. 6-0 165 WR/S
84 Josh Larson Jr. 6-2 180 TE/LB
85 Warren Zinns So. 5-10 145 WR/CB
87 Gunnar Nelson Jr. 5-10 150 WR/CB
88 Elijah Andrushenko Jr. 6-3 190 WR/LB
Reach Sports Editor David Rasbach at 360-715-2271 or email@example.com .