When Curt Kramme studies his roster, it’s pretty hard for the Lynden coach to pinpoint an area he doesn’t like.
Last year’s state champion Lions were motivated by the fact they weren’t expected to bring home a third straight title following a wealth of graduated talent. Lynden put together a dominant defense and up-and-coming stars blossomed on the offensive end.
Now many of those relatively unknowns return following a 14-0 season capped with a 38-28 championship win over Tumwater.
But while Lynden’s talent is abundant, Kramme made clear his Lions will need to place an emphasis on team chemistry in order to attain continued success.
“I think the kids are very talented, but the big key for me is, are we going to play hard when it matters?” Kramme asked. “Are we going to be a team, meaning putting the team first, putting our personal goals secondary to the success of the team?”
And if Lynden does?
“I think we have a chance to be an outstanding team.” Kramme said.
One of Kramme’s consistent coaching points is ensuring his team places a premium on effort, and the way he sees it, this year’s Lions haven’t done a thing until they prove their ability the first Friday night.
It’s a sentiment several Lynden seniors echoed during preseason practice.
“Talent will get you so far, but effort and desire are ultimately what wins football games,” Kramme said, “and, you know, I think it is there, but until we actually prove it on Friday night, we won’t really know.”
Still, the reality is Lynden, the Associated Press Washington State Prep Football Preseason Poll No. 1-ranked team in Class 2A, is loaded with talent.
One of the largest offseason question marks was who will win the quarterback job with the success of both Lucas Petersen and Sterling Somers last year? Kramme has moved Petersen to wide receiver, and Squalicum transfer quarterback Clark Hazlett is expect to backup junior Sterling Somers, who started the second half of last fall following Petersen’s wrist injury.
Somers will be throwing to a deep wide receiving group, including massive target Scooter Hastings, Petersen, Jordan Wittenberg and Trey Shagren. The group combined for 68 receptions last year without Petersen’s production.
“As a group, that might be the best four we’ve had,” Kramme said. “They are talented.”
Last year’s 2A All-State Player of the Year, Trent Postma, returns to the Lynden backfield, and he’ll be complemented by both Nui La Bat and Dalton Ohligschlager.
Responsible for making the offense go will be returning lineman Caden Lair and Derron Dunnigan, as well as newcomers Bryce Sterk, Jensen Mayberry, Davis Bode and Tanner Steele.
The Lions face a tall task emulating last year’s defensive unit that allowed an average of 11.4 points per game, 124.4 rush yards and 119.1 pass yards.
Jaremy Martin will be missed, but Postma is one of the best linebackers in the state. Mayberry or Quinlan Vasey should play by his side.
Kramme is looking to rotate Jeevan Brar, Brody Weinheimer, Nathan Gomes, La Bat and Ohligschlager along the defensive line, and Sterk, Lair, Hastings and Bode are strong options at defensive end.
There’s no slouches in the secondary, as Petersen — a player Kramme said is all-state caliber — returns at safety with Shagren flanking him. Wittenberg should start at one cornerback spot, while the Lions are looking at either Hazlett, Jonathan Whetnal or Drew Kraus on the other side.