Nooksack Valley junior quarterback Casey Bauman admits he didn’t have a lot of trust or confidence in his teammates as a difficult 2015 season dragged on for the Pioneers.
Bauman started every game during a 1-9 campaign for Nooksack and watched receivers drop passes, his offensive line fail to keep rushers off his back and a defense that struggled to contain anybody.
“Last season, he just wasn’t comfortable throwing to certain receivers and playing behind our offensive line,” Nooksack Valley coach Robb Myhre said. “But this season, with experience, that has changed.”
Bauman refuses to focus much on the Pioneers’ struggles last season, instead spinning conversations to praise how much the team has improved since last year, with his confidence and trust in teammates being key for this team.
Last season, Bauman completed 57 percent of his passes (161 of 281) for 1,622 yards with 13 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
This season he is on pace to shatter those numbers. In Nooksack’s first three games, he has completed 68 percent (47 of 69) of his passes for a Whatcom County-leading 764 yards and has thrown six touchdowns and just one interception.
“We’ve been working hard all summer,” Bauman said. “We’ve run routes, worked out together, and I have way more trust in my teammates, and my teammates have more trust in me, as well.”
That trust wasn’t built in a day. Bauman and his teammates worked out together every week during the summer, and Bauman and his teammates said how much last season’s growing pains helped galvanize the team.
Bauman’s confidence in his teammateshas improved many aspects of his game.
“His throwing accuracy and decision-making has become a lot better this season I think based on that trust and confidence that he has now,” said junior wide receiver Tre Silva, who has nine catches for 115 receiving yards as well as 124 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
Bauman has improved his game, but he has always had the sheer athleticism and size to play quarterback at 6-foot-5 and 210 pounds.
“He’s a three-sport athlete with a great arm,” Myhre said. “Also, his experience in the offense is just as important. We run an intricate offense, and last season we shrunk our playbook for everyone to understand, but this year we have gone back to our original playbook. It also helps that he’s tall and can see the entire field behind his offensive line, because that lets us spread the field vertically and horizontally.”
Bauman said he wants to play college football, and he still has his senior season left to impress. He said he has heard from a few colleges, but not a whole lot.
To improve his chances of getting recognized, Bauman went to UCLA and USC football camps this summer while also competing at the Northwest 9 – a select quarterback competition against other high school quarterbacks from Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana.
But Bauman isn’t concerned with what he accomplished over the summer or what he hopes to do once he’s done at Nooksack. Instead, he’s focused on enjoying the here and now with his teammates.
The Pioneers (2-1) open Class 1A Northwest Conference play against Mount Baker on Friday, Sept. 23. Last season, the Pioneers lost to Mount Baker twice, getting outscored 121-44.
This year is different, though.
The whole season is different. Wide receivers aren’t dropping as many passes, the offensive line is blocking and the defense is getting stops.
“It’s not just me that has improved this season,” Bauman said, “it’s the entire team, and I’m really proud of everyone.”