PREP FOOTBALL PREVIEW: Experience, athleticism could help Squalicum take next step in 2013

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDSeptember 5, 2013 

FB TAB Squalicum Koetje

Squalicum's Neall Koetje on Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013 in Bellingham.

ANDY BRONSON — THE BELLINGHAM HERALD Buy Photo

Remember all those guys at Lynden, who before graduating last spring seemed like they were playing for the football team forever and ended up winning a pair of Class 2A state titles? You know, Josh Somebody, Matt Whatshisname, Caleb Thearmyguy, Zach Whatshisface and all those other fellas.

Well, the Squalicum football team has its own group of athletes that have been playing together for a while. And though they may not have earned quite the same notoriety or had quite as much success as Lynden's bunch, they're hoping this is their year to make a name for themselves.

"We'd like to be at that level Lynden was at last year," coach Reed Richardson said. "I don't know if we can compare this class to them, just yet, but we've got some darned good kids, that's for sure."

Many of whom have been starting or playing key roles the past two years.

They took their lumps two years ago, but last year showed progress, finishing second to Lynden in the NWC 2A standings and advancing to the district playoffs.

"When we go out on Friday night, guys aren't going to be seeing stars," Richardson said. "Like Nick Manchester's been on the field; he's been there. Clark Hazlett has been there. Christian Jorgensen's been there."

This year, they're going to resemble Lynden even a little more, as the Storm plans to implement some four-receiver sets into its offense.

"We feel like with the group of receivers and athletes we have there, we need to try to get more athletes on the field," Richardson said. "We're going to try to get more four receiver sets to get a little bit more of look out there, as well as continue to pound the ball."

Richardson says he has 10 to 12 potential varsity receivers on the roster, led by returning No. 1 Ben Garcia. Jorgensen returns after a year at Archbishop Murphy and will be a backup quarterback but also will see time at receiver. They'll be joined by Neall Koetje, Coleman Schwab, Riley Zehnder, Quinn Carpenter, Blake Youtsey, DJ Mitchell and a host of others.

Hazlett will be a three-year starter at quarterback, and he's only a junior. Richardson said he's looked great with his ability "to throw on the dime" and his leadership.

Even with the increased receiving targets, running backs Manchester and Luke Weber will make sure Squalicum remains a power team behind an athletic offensive line that will include Joel Jensen, Ryan Thurston and Max Evans.

Squalicum has plenty of depth across the board on a defense that is focusing on improved tackling.

Manchester and Jorgensen will likely man the safety spots, while up to eight guys, including Hazlett, could see time at corner. Koetje, Nathan Kamkoff and Bobby Iverson will rotate at inside linebacker, while Taylor Russell, Zehnder and sophomore Creighton Kaui will rotate on the outside with a couple others. Depth is also strong up front, with Evans, Jordan Campbell, Caleb Starkovich and Colin Gray among the options.

COACH'S PERSPECTIVE

"The nicest and best quality we have this year is we've got a number of guys, it seems, everywhere. And when you have depth, it creates competition. And when you have competition, everybody raises their level. That's what we need to do this year to take the next step we're looking to make." - Squalicum coach Reed Richardson

KEYS TO THE SEASON

1. Big picture, limited focus

Squalicum has all the pieces to take a step forward and possibly make the state playoffs for the first time, but it's the attention to detail that gets you there.

2. Powerful Storm

In spite of all the athletes it has at its disposal, Squalicum can't get away from its power roots. Smash-mouth football is a proven to win in November.

3. Wrap it up

In spite of its offensive weapons, the Storm needs to play better defense. Tackling is key for a team that nearly allowed 2,000 yards on the ground in 2012.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Neall Koetje, Senior OL/WR/LB

After playing on the lines last year, he likely will be one of the many athletes Squalicum counts on at receiver and linebacker this year.

Clark Hazlett, Junior QB/DB

The three-year starter will have more opportunities to throw and more targets this year after passing for 941 yards in 2012. He's also a strong leader.

Nick Manchester, Junior RB/DB

He'll play a key role in keeping Squalicum's focus on power football as a key running back, and Richardson said he "was everywhere" during camp at safety.

Joel Jensen, Senior OL/DL

Don't forget about the Storm's big guys. Jensen is the leader of the group that has enough depth that it may not have to go both ways, allowing them to stay fresh.

2013 SCHEDULE

Sept. 6 at Kingston 7 p.m.

Sept. 14 Sedro-Woolley (at Civic Stadium)* 7 p.m.

Sept. 20 at Bellingham (at Civic Stadium)* 7 p.m.

Sept. 28 at Seaquam Secondary (B.C.) 1:30 p.m.

Oct. 4 Ferndale (at Civic Stadium)* 7 p.m.

Oct. 11 at Anacortes* 7 p.m.

Oct. 18 Sehome (at Civic Stadium)* 7 p.m.

Oct. 25 at Burlington-Edison* 7 p.m.

Oct. 31 at Lynden* 7 p.m.

*NWC 2A/3A game

2012 RESULTS

6-4, 4-3 NWC 2A/3A

Aug. 31 Kingston W 27-10

Sept. 7 at Sedro-Woolley* W 29-28

Sept. 14 Bellingham* W 42-20

Sept. 22 Abbottsford Collegiate (B.C.) W 63-7

Sept. 28 at Ferndale* L 41-14

Oct. 5 Anacortes* W 28-7

Oct. 12 at Sehome* W 28-20

Oct. 19 Burlington-Edison* L 24-17

Oct. 25 Lynden* L 49-7

CLASS 2A NORTHWEST DISTRICT PLAYOFFS

Nov. 2 at Archbishop Murphy L 44-16

*NWC 2A/3A game

2012 STATISTICAL LEADERS

RUSHING

Player Att. Yards Avg. TD

Luke Weber* 173 939 5.4 15

Nick Manchester* 65 439 6.8 5

Brandon LeDoux 41 237 5.8 2

PASSING

Player Cmp. Att. Yards TD Int.

Clark Hazlett* 68 144 941 9 7

RECEIVING Rec. Yards Avg. TD

Ben Garcia* 22 379 17.2 4

Blaze Yetter 19 185 9.7 1

Luke Weber* 6 94 15.7 1

*Returning player

2013 ROSTER

No. Player Yr. Ht. Wt. Pos.

1 Ben Garcia Sr. 6-0 145 WR/DB

2 Christian Jorgensen Jr. 6-2 170 WR/DB

3 Coleman Schwab Jr. 6-0 160 WR/DB

4 Jess Swanson Jr. 6-0 165 WR/DB

5 Cain Doronso Sr. 5-11 170 WR/LB

6 Quinn Carpenter Jr. 5-9 155 WR/DB

7 DJ Mitchell Jr. 5-10 165 RB/DB

8 James Romanov So. 5-8 140 QB/DB

9 Luke Weber Sr. 6-0 180 WR/DB

10 Bunji McLeod So. 5-8 165 WR/DB

11 Clark Hazlett Jr. 6-3 200 QB/DB

12 Bobby Iverson Sr. 5-9 170 WR/LB

13 Riley Zehnder So. 5-10 165 WR/LB

14 Brandon Burbank Jr. 6-1 165 WR/DB

15 Jordan Andreason Jr. 5-10 190 RB/LB

16 Creighton Kaui So. 6-0 180 RB/LB

17 Jay McWilliams So. 6-1 160 QB/DB

18 Michael Ulate So. 5-11 190 WR/LB

19 Phuvadon Thammarat Jr. 5-9 155 RB/DL

21 Nathan Striggow Jr. 5-10 145 QB/DB

22 Anthony Krause So. 5-7 120 WR/DB

24 Austin Schlenbaker So. 6-0 140 WR/DB

25 Nick Manchester Jr. 6-1 190 RB/DB

26 Nathan Kamkoff Sr. 5-11 175 WR/LB

27 Carlos Hernandez So. 5-8 150 RB/LB

28 Manuel Romero So. 5-11 165 RB/LB

29 Calvin Nguyen So. 5-8 140 WR/DB

31 Damek Mitchell Fr. 5-8 175 RB/LB

32 Will Nickelson So. 5-5 140 RB/LB

33 Jordan Campbell Jr. 6-0 200 RB/DL

34 Nathaniel Gaines So. 5-5 145 RB/LB

36 Mac Walker Jr. 5-9 160 WR/LB

42 Brian Dunphy Sr. 5-11 190 RB/LB

44 Jack Curnow So. 6-0 155 WR/LB

50/87 Neall Koetje Sr. 6-2 195 OL/WR/LB

51 Tavo O'Connell Jr. 6-3 215 OL/DL

52 Caleb Starkovich So. 6-2 220 OL/DL

53 Kyle Basart So. 5-9 200 OL/DL

54 Chris Paz Jr. 6-5 270 OL/DL

55 JR Baldivinos Sr. 5-7 200 OL/DL

56 Michael Doyle Sr. 6-0 225 OL/DL

57 Andrew Napier So. 6-0 220 OL/DL

58 Max Evans Sr. 6-2 210 OL/DL

60 Jordan Campbell Jr. 6-0 200 OL/DL

62 Brian Dunphy Sr. 5-11 190 OL/LB

63 Jacob Burgoon So. 5-10 150 OL/LB

64 Colin Gray Sr. 6-1 235 OL/DL

65 Taylor Russell Sr. 6-0 175 OL/LB

66 Joel Jensen Sr. 6-4 270 OL/DL

67 Everet Turner So. 5-10 220 OL/DL

68 Hayden Ramsey So. 5-8 180 OL/LB

70 Ben Jabbora Jr. 6-1 180 OL/DL

71 Harris Rahimi Sr. 6-1 180 OL/LB

72 Alex Shermerhorn So. 5-11 230 OL/DL

73 Calum Huber So. 6-0 195 OL/DL

74 Ben Mai So. 5-9 200 OL/DL

75 Dylan Gibson So. 5-7 175 OL/LB

76 Ryan Thurston Jr. 6-1 225 OL/DL

77 Colton Clemens Sr. 6-0 220 OL/DL

78 Beau Hubsch So. 6-2 260 OL/DL

79 Mike Banks Jr. 6-2 335 OL/DL

80 Taylor Russell Sr. 6-0 175 WR/LB

82 Rolan Ryan So. 5-9 135 WR/DB

83 Ben Peterson Fr. 5-8 155 WR/DB

84 Michael Wong Jr. 5-5 125 WR/DB

85 Tanner Griffiths Jr. 5-9 145 WR/DB

89 Blake Youtsey Sr. 6-5 225 WR/LB

Reach Sports Editor David Rasbach at 360-715-2271 or david.rasbach@bellinghamherald.com .

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