Lynden Christian coach Galen Kaemingk, for the first time since taking over the Lyncs’ football program, is working with a senior class he’s been able to mold and shape for four years.
Since their sophomore season, many of this year’s seniors have played varsity ball, and while they’ve taken their lumps, their game experience has Kaemingk looking forward to what could be this fall.
“This is a nice group because we’ve got 13 seniors, and this is my fourth year here,” Kaemingk said. “It’s just kind of a group I’ve had high hopes for all along, so I’m just anxious to see how this year plays out, because I think they’ve been putting in some hard work.”
The Lyncs, who finished 6-6, got a small taste of the 2013 postseason, reaching the Class 1A Northwest District half-game playoffs. LC beat South Whidbey before losing to Meridian in a win-or-go-home scenario.
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Kaemingk is hoping the momentum carries over to this fall. He has 13 seniors, and for the Lyncs it starts with believing they can take the next step.
“A lot of them had to play varsity when they really weren’t ready, so they haven’t had a lot of success in the win and loss side of it,” Kaemingk said, “so they need to learn how to finish games. Last year we had a couple games get away and stuff like that.”
Although not a senior, junior quarterback Lucas Roetcisoender is one of Kaemingk’s players who had to learn under fire. Lynden Christian lost would-be starter Daulton Hommes for the season, and Roetcisoender had to give up a year of learning at the JV level in order to lead the varsity squad.
Still, Roetcisoender’s 1,438 yards, 20 touchdowns and 12 interceptions wasn’t bad for a sophomore seeing his first varsity playing time. He probably didn’t like his 48 percent passing completion rate, but Kaemingk raved about his signal-caller’s maturation during the offseason.
“Physically, he wasn’t very filled out, so he took a pounding,” Kaemingk said. “He’s a year older and had a year in the weight room, so physically he’s stronger. Mentally, he’s got a whole year of experience, so he’ll have a lot better year, I’m sure.”
Senior Alex Vander Velden, Roetcisoender’s favorite target last season, returns, and fellow receivers Ty Vander Yacht, Kaden Bratt and Nathan Rusnak should help make up for the loss of Zach Roetcisoender, who opted not to play this year. Tight ends Travis Roosma and Kyle Tiemersma also could factor into the pass game.
Kaemingk has a number of options at running back. Senior Jordan Jansen is the Lyncs’ leading returning rusher, and Blake Mellema earned 66 carries last fall. Jake Van Berkum, Nolan Greenough and Lynden transfer Blake Browning also could see some backfield work.
Cole Stump, Terrel Brown, Sebastian Canfield, Eric Vree, John-Mark Stromberg and Sam Mumford, with the exception of Mumford, who plays linebacker, are all guys Kaemingk plans to rotate in and out of both his offensive and defensive lines.
The Lyncs’ defense was often a strong suit last fall. It displayed a knack for creating turnovers, and Tiemersma, Mellema, Van Berkum, Greenough and Mumford are some of LC’s top playmakers within the front seven.
Vander Velden, Jansen, Vander Yacht, Bratt and Rusnak highlight Lynden Christian’s secondary.
“With our numbers, health is always an issue,” Kaemingk said. “We can’t afford to get guys hurt, so that is No. 1. ... This year the way it’s set up, you have to finish No. 1 or 2 (for postseason). We’ve got four good teams, but I like our chances.”