The good news is if you like what you see out of the Nooksack Valley football team this year, you'll get to see it again next year.
"We have a small senior class - small seniors and sophomores; big juniors and freshmen," Pioneers coach Robb Myhre said. "What that means is we have a lot of guys that haven't played on the varsity level much yet. Our senior class is not the strongest group in the world, in terms of experience. They're still leaders, but it allows the juniors to step up and be leaders. They're all kind of feeling each other out, which means nobody is intimidated by anybody else, and they all get along real well."
Nowhere are the Pioneers more youthful than at the skill positions.
One of Nooksack's young guys who did get plenty of experience on last year's team, which came within a Kansas tie-breaker of advancing to the postseason, is junior quarterback Tanner Myhre, who is the returning starter.
"The biggest expectation for him this year is just reading defenses - understanding what's going on out there and where the open guys are going to be and trying to figure that out before the ball has ever been snapped," said the coach, who also is Tanner's father. "That was the nice thing about him playing as a sophomore. It's a long, hard process."
Senior Daryk Heidt is one of three running backs likely to join Tanner in the backfield, along with speedy, tough junior Hunter Whittern and athletic Dalton Biehle, assuming he is granted eligibility after transferring from Lynden Christian.
Curtis Handy and Joshua Gimmaka will give the Pioneers a pair of tall, athletic targets at the inside receiver spots. Handy is a mature kid with an outstanding football sense, Myhre said, while Gimmaka "has the best hands we've ever had." Junior Brady Wood, who is big after the catch, and speedy Connor Beard will be dangerous threats on the outside.
"We could start five juniors and a sophomore at all our skill positions," Myhre said, "and we really like that group."
Similar things could be said on the line, where senior returners Leni Halaapiapi, Blake Warner and J Snider will be joined by juniors Lathan Halaapiapi, Austin Holmstrom-Conn and newcomer Blake Williams.
"We just need to keep learning and working up front," Myhre said. "We don't have that dominant B.J. Salmonson-type of kid, but we usually don't. It will be how those front line guys help us on defense. If they can be stout on defense, we'll be OK."
Myhre said he expects Lathan Halaapiapi to be strong on both sides of the ball, as Nooksack looks to continue the success it had stopping the run during the second half of the season last year. Leni Halaapiapi, Gimmaka and Holmstrom-Conn give the Pioneers good height up front.
Handy will lead the linebacking corps, along with Biehle and Parker Schram. Newcomer William Kingma comes from a hockey background, and Myhre said he likes his smartness and toughness.
Tanner Myhre will start at safety along with Wood at corner, while Jason Swanson and Beard will split time at the other corner.
"Tanner (Myhre), Curtis (Handy) and Josh Gimmaka have to say healthy. We've built this little triangle, and if they stay on the field, everybody else will rise up, we think. We're just thin everywhere, but we're a small school, and that's the story everywhere." - Nooksack Valley coach Robb Myhre
KEYS TO THE SEASON
1. Bermuda triangle
Nooksack is built around Tanner Myhre, Curtis Handy and Joshua Gimmaka. All three must stay on the field to make everyone around them better on both sides.
2. Stuff the run
After allowing 257.3 rushing yards per game the first six weeks, defensive changes limited opponents to 104.3 the final four. That trend must continue.
3. Time to be special
Nooksack used mostly JV players on special teams last year. With only six or seven guys going both ways this year, more varsity guys will be available.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Tanner Myhre, Junior QB/FS
He passed for 1,897 yards and rushed for 709 as a sophomore starter. Look for bigger things as he begins to mature and grow into the position. He'll also be a standout on defense.
Curtis Handy, Junior WR/MLB
He's is learning how to get open as a receiver to utilize his great hands and athleticism. He also will be instrumental in shutting down the run on defense.
Joshua Gimmaka, Junior TE/DE
Gimmaka probably could have started as a sophomore if not for Joey Scheffer. His height also will create problems along the defensive front.
Leni Halaapiapi, Senior T/DT
His younger brother might be Nooksack's best lineman, but Leni is one of a handful of Pioneers who saw extensive varsity time last season.
Sept. 7 at Sehome (at Civic Stadium) 1 p.m.
Sept. 14 at Forks 2 p.m.
Sept. 20 Sedro-Woolley 7 p.m.
Sept. 27 Coupeville 7 p.m.
Oct. 4 Mount Baker* 7 p.m.
Oct. 11 at Meridian* 7 p.m.
Oct. 18 at Lynden Christian* 7 p.m.
Oct. 25 Friday Harbor* 6 p.m.
Oct. 31 at Blaine* 7 p.m.
*NWC 1A game
7-3, 3-2 NWC 1A
Aug. 31 Sehome W 17-6
Sept. 8 Forks W 35-6
Sept. 14 at Sedro-Woolley L 32-27
Sept. 21 at Coupeville W 56-15
Sept. 28 at Mount Baker* L 59-14
Oct. 5 Meridian* L 42-14
Oct. 12 Lynden Christian* W 51-16
Oct. 19 at Friday Harbor* W 28-14
Oct. 26 Blaine* W 34-28
Nov. 2 at Port Townsend W 41-7
*NWC 1A game
2012 STATISTICAL LEADERS
Player Att. Yards Avg. TD
Tanner Myhre* 113 709 6.3 8
Bret Rediger 40 281 7.0 4
Levi Schram 35 194 5.5 3
Player Cmp. Att. Yards TD Int.
Tanner Myhre* 155 252 1,897 21 16
RECEIVING Rec. Yards Avg. TD
Trey Handy 55 669 12.2 11
Joey Scheffer 35 438 12.5 2
Bret Rediger 27 432 16.0 5
No. Player Yr. Ht. Wt. Pos.
2 Joshua Gimmaka Jr. 6-3 180 TE/DE
3 Joe McNeely So. 5-11 165 QB
4 Ryan Gelwicks Jr. 5-7 145 WR/OLB
5 William Kingma Jr. 5-10 170 WR/LB
7 Andrew Klander Sr. 6-0 165 WR/FS
10 Michael Jackson Fr. 5-6 150 QB/SS
11 Tanner Myhre Jr. 5-10 160 QB/FS
12 Connor Beard So. 5-8 145 WR/CB
13 Daryk Heidt Sr. 5-11 160 RB/LB
14 Aaron Bosscher So. 6-0 160 WR/CB
17 Austin Holder So. 5-11 140 WR/DB
18 Antonio Swanaset Sr. 5-7 145 WR/CB
20 Curtis Handy Jr. 6-1 190 RB/MLB
22 Parker Schram Jr. 6-0 170 WR/OLB
23 Hunter Whittern Jr. 5-7 155 RB/OLB
28 Dalton Biehle Jr. 5-9 175 RB/LB
31 Kyle Pike Fr. 5-10 160 WR/LB
34 Jason Swanson Sr. 6-3 170 WR/CB
44 Colton Kautz Fr. 5-10 180 RB/LB
50 Kalvin Jimmy Jr. 5-9 175 G/DT
51 Tyson Thorp Jr. 6-4 170 T/DE
53 Nathan Anderson Jr. 5-7 150 G/DE
54 Isaiah Lemon Fr. 5-8 185 G/DE
55 Gonzalo Mendoza-Lopez So. 5-4 205 G/DT
60 Zane Sexton So. 5-6 168 G/DE
61 Dale J Snider Sr. 5-9 230 T/DT
63 Jason Stridicke So. 5-8 160 C/DE
64 Alex Boots Fr. 6-1 185 T/DE
65 Austin Bruijn Jr. 5-9 300 T/DT
67 Ross Luton So. 5-6 245 G/DT
68 Blake Warner Sr. 6-0 215 C/DE
69 Blake Williams Jr. 6-2 215 T/DT
70 Sunny Brar Fr. 6- 165 G/DE
71 Tyson Mergel Fr. 5-11 230 T/DT
73 Chris Gonzales Jr. 5-6 228 G/DT
74 Lathan Halaapiapi Jr. 6-1 210 G/DE
75 Nick Bourassa Sr. 6-2 275 T/DT
77 Leni Halaapiapi Sr. 6-1 255 T/DT
78 Zach Daniels Fr. 5-6 190 C/DT
79 Austin Holmstrom-Conn Jr. 6-2 210 TE/DE
80 Michael O'Bryan Fr. 5-8 130 QB/FS
81 Philip Burger So. 5-11 120 WR/FS
84 Kasey Buoy Fr. 5-5 155 WR/DB
85 Tanner Schoonover Fr. 5-8 150 WR/LB
88 Brady Wood Jr. 5-11 145 WR/CB
NA Evan Blankers Fr. 6- 170 WR/DE
NA Orlando Campos Jr. 5-11 210 G/DT
NA Mark Coppinger Fr. 5-6 145 G/LB
NA Jeremy Dykes Fr. 5-6 125 WR/DB
NA Joseph Jefferson Fr. 5-8 145 WR/DB
NA Noel Mondragon Fr. 5-8 145 WR/DB
NA Valentin Villalobos Fr. 5-6 125 WR/DB
NA Martin Voglsinger Jr. 5-11 180 G/DT
Reach Sports Editor David Rasbach at 360-715-2271 or firstname.lastname@example.org .