New Squalicum coach Nick Lucey knows how fortunate he is to be taking over the Storm’s football program this season in particular.
A coaching change often requires patience in order for a team to return to prominence. It usually means a school is talent-starved and in desperate need of athletes.
That’s not the case in Storm country.
In fact, it seems Lucey has stumbled across a treasure trove of talent, including an experienced senior class and a strong overall group finally ready to break through after years of missing the state playoffs
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Bellingham Herald
“It starts with having an awesome staff, and we’ve got great kids,” said Lucey, who comes to Squalicum after serving as Simon Fraser University’s offensive coordinator last season. “They like being around each other. They are super coachable. There are no egos, and we’ve got a great senior group.”
That group of seniors starts with quarterback Christian Jorgensen, who has been waiting his chance to get the keys to an offense. Lucey raved about Jorgensen’s offseason leadership, ability to orchestrate an offense and overall arm talent he presents the team.
He’s fit in flawlessly with Lucey’s spread-offense system, and the Storm coach praised his ability to quickly grasp concepts.
“He has the quarterback ‘it’ factor,” Lucey said. “He just has a presence about him. He’s a guy that everyone follows. You watch him throw mechanically, he’s awesome. ... He’s picked up the offense as well as the college quarterbacks I’ve had. I couldn’t ask for much more than to have him in the driver’s seat in what we are doing.”
High praise indeed, but still Jorgensen is yet to log his first varsity start. Thankfully, his job should be made easier with a plethora of talented skill position players to get the ball to.
Senior Nick Manchester, who finished second on the team in rushing last fall, headlines a list of talented running backs that includes Dajaylyn Mitchell and younger brother Damek Mitchell.
On the outside senior Coleman Schwab, Blaine transfer Josiah Westbrook, Quinn Carpenter, Damek and last year’s leading pass-catcher Ben Peterson give Jorgensen a number of strong targets.
But Lucey knows his offense won’t be able to move the ball without the big boys up front, and the positional group, which will be anchored by senior leaders Chris Paz and Ryan Thurston, has caught Lucey’s eye both during the offseason and in preseason camp.
“I think we are pretty darn good one through 11,” Lucey said. “I really like our quarterback. I think we have talented skill, and I think we got a good line. I’ve really been pleased with the line.”
While the offense seems to have enough talent to move the ball, a major key to Squalicum’s success will be whether or not it can trim down the 31.5 points per game the defense allowed last year.
Thurston, Paz, Andrew Napier and Jordan Campbell should be fixtures along the line, with Manchester and returning starter Creighton Kaui handling the linebacker duties.
Dajaylyn, Damek and Peterson should share time at safety, and the Storm have great speed at the corners with Carpenter, Schwab and Westbrook.
“It starts with being physical,” Lucey said. “Our guys have to be very detailed in our preparation. You see it all from Lynden’s spread to Sedro-Woolley runs wing-T, and Ferndale runs it their own way, and they’re all good at it. We have to execute every play and make each one the most important play and really value them.”