High School Football

Young Pioneers focused on improving while acclimating to varsity

Joe McNeely is one of the Pioneers’ top athletes and is in the position to be a leader for a young group.
Joe McNeely is one of the Pioneers’ top athletes and is in the position to be a leader for a young group. The Bellingham Herald

Nooksack Valley coach Robb Myhre offered myriad positive adjectives for his 2015 Pioneers: hard working, competitive, tough.

But while Myhre has witnessed many pleasing traits regarding his young football team, he knows this season is quite different than anyone he’s had in recent memory.

“We haven’t had a group like this — so new — in forever, but we really like these kids as people,” Myhre said.

For Nooksack Valley, graduating so many talented seniors who played prominent roles may have its repercussions in terms of on-field success this fall, but opens spots breed opportunity, and Myhre said his Pioneers are making the most of their chance to play.

“They are a real hard-working group,” Myhre said. “A large group of kids have spent more time in the weight room this year than we’ve ever had.”

That should be beneficial for a team Myhre said returns only two starters, and each them — Alex Boots and Kirk Veldman — will be moving to new positions on the offensive line.

Nooksack Valley has five seniors, most of whom haven’t played much varsity ball, a small junior class and a whole lot of sophomores, who are expected to see plenty of playing time.

Senior quarterback Joe McNeely and sophomore up-and-comer Casey Bauman are battling to see who will succeed longtime starter Tanner Myhre.

Whoever wins the competition will have a completely new cast of receivers to throw to, after the Pioneers graduated six of their top seven pass-catchers and Connor Beard decided to forgo his senior season.

Myhre is expecting Michael O’Bryan to emerge from amongst the receiving group, and Tre Silva, whom Myhre said is the team’s fastest player, could see targets.

Junior Colton Kautz didn’t play a lot last year, logging only four rush attempts, but he figures to be the lead running back after an impressive offseason that included a strong track and field spring. He also should factor in defensively.

On defense, sophomores Kyle Veldman and Luke Winter should see big roles most likely at linebacker. Boots and Kirk give the Pioneers some experience along the defensive line, and Jared Parson, who didn’t join the team until late last fall, should be a two-way starter.

“I expect us to get better every game,” Myhre said. “I expect us to be very fundamentally improved by the end of the season.”

Nooksack Valley again faces a brutal schedule. Besides facing Mount Baker and Meridian twice, the Pioneers play perennial powers Montesano and Cascade Christian.

Key numbers

2

Offensive starters from 2014 returning for

Nooksack Valley in 2015.

2

Defensive starters from 2014 returning for

Nooksack Valley in 2015.

188

Yards of offense this year’s Pioneers accounted for last season.

61

Last year’s win total of Nooksack Valley’s opponents this season.

Players to watch

JOE MCNEELY

Sr., QB/LB

McNeely is one of the Pioneers’ top athletes and is in the position to be a leader for a young group.

KIRK VELDMAN

So., OL/DL

Veldman is one of two returning starters, so the Pioneers will lean heavily on his services along the offensive and defensive lines.

COLTON KAUTZ

Jr., RB/DL

Myhre has been pleased with Kautz’s development. Now it’s time for the junior to prove what he’s capable of.

MICHAEL O’BRYAN

Jr., WR/DB

O’Bryan could be targeted quite a bit after Nooksack Valley gradated nearly everyone who caught a pass in 2014.

Three keys to 2015

1. MASTER THE ESSENTIALS

Myhre isn’t bothering to install mulitple plays with different complexities. The Nooksack Valley coach is keeping it simple and wants his team to perfect what the Pioneers will run. Doing a few things great is better than doing a lot of things average.

2. QUICK LEARNER

Nooksack Valley’s roster doesn’t have much varsity experience, so it’s imperative the many new faces digest Myhre’s coaching and implent the lessons in their play early on.

3. SOPHOMORE RISE

The Pioneers are left with a five-man senior class and a small junior class, too, but Myhre has a large sophomore class. Nooksack Valley needs the young ones to elevate their play and start establishing leadership as the season rolls on.

Projection

Nooksack Valley is left with a lot work after graduating so many key players last season. Success is measured in a lot of ways, but wins could be hard to come by for this young, inexperienced team.

2015 schedule

Date

Opponent

Time

Sept. 4

Anacortes

7 p.m.

Sept. 11

at Montesano

TBD

Sept. 19

Cascade Christian

7 p.m.

Sept. 25

at Mount Baker*

7 p.m.

Oct. 2

at Lynden Christian*

7 p.m.

Oct. 9

Meridian*

7 p.m.

Oct. 16

Mount Baker*

7 p.m.

Oct. 23

Lynden Christian*

7 p.m.

Oct. 30

at Meridian*

7 p.m.

*NWC 1A game

2015 Roster

No.

Player

Yr.

Ht.

Wt.

Pos.

1

Evan Neitling

Fr.

5-3

115

WR/DB

2

Casey Bauman

So.

6-4

190

QB/SS

3

Michael Jackson

Jr.

5-7

175

WR/SS

4

Brennan Blankers

So.

5-3

110

WR/FS

5

Austin O'Bryan

Fr.

5-6

150

QB/SS

10

Joe McNeely

Sr.

5-10

190

QB/SS

11

Halston Boersema

Fr.

5-10

130

WR/DB

14

Baylor Galley

Fr.

5-4

100

WR/DB

15

Michael O'Bryan

Jr.

5-9

150

WR/CB

20

Connor Passe

So.

5-10

140

WR/CB

21

Kyle Pike

Jr.

5-10

170

WR/LB

22

Cody Gonzalez

Sr.

5-10

145

WR/OLB

23

Devin Lackey

Fr.

5-5

130

RB/LB

25

Tre Silva

So.

5-9

145

WR/DB

27

Kyle Veldman

So.

5-9

175

WR/LB

28

Luke Parson

So.

5-11

160

WR/CB

31

Anselmo Cristobal

Sr.

5-7

165

RB/LB

32

Adam Dugger

Fr.

5-6

150

WR/LB

33

Evan Anker

So.

6-2

160

WR/LB

43

Andrew Jefferson

Fr.

5-8

160

WR/LB

44

Colton Kautz

Jr.

6-1

205

RB/LB

50

Alex Boots

Jr.

6-2

210

T/DE

51

Hayden Hester

Fr.

5-6

185

C/DT

52

Logan Rodriguez

Jr.

5-9

200

G/LB

53

Cooper Clawson

Fr.

5-7

160

G/LB

54

Jared Parson

Sr.

6-0

170

G/DT

55

Luke Winter

So.

6-0

215

G/LB

56

Zach Daniels

Jr.

5-10

215

C/DT

57

Jordan Prink

Fr.

5-9

190

G/DT

60

Zane Sexton

Sr.

5-7

160

G/DE

61

Colton Hickey

So.

6-2''

215

T/DE

63

Jason Stredicke

Sr.

5-7

200

C/DE

64

Gino Steltzer

So.

5-9

210

T/DT

65

Landon Bruland

Fr.

6-1

150

T/DE

66

Tyler Matter

Fr.

6-0

180

T/DE

67

Jacob Roosma

Fr.

5-3

135

G/LB

68

Kirk Veldman

So.

6-1

250

T/DT

69

David McCormick

Fr.

5-9

137

T/DT

70

Sunny Brar

Jr.

6-0

180

G/DE

71

Tyson Mergel

Jr.

5-10

240

T/DT

72

Henry Kamkoff

So.

5-10

215

G/DT

74

Joey Leezer

Fr.

6-0

240

G/DT

75

Kevin Alcaraz

Jr.

5-10

180

T/DT

79

Devon Huskey

So.

5-9

215

C/DT

80

Zach Paz

Fr.

5-6

125

WR/DB

81

Adam Dugger

Fr.

5-6

150

G/LB

82

Jordan Veening

So.

6-1

165

WR/DB

84

Jacob Whitmer

So.

6- 1

180

WR/LB

85

Tanner Schoonover

Jr.

6-0

190

WR/LB

86

Levi Tenkley

So.

510

140

WR/CB

87

Evan Blankers

Jr.

6-1

170

WR/DE

88

Nick Averys

Fr.

5-9

130

WR/CB

2014 Season recap

RESULTS

(5-5, 2-4 NWC 1A)

Date

Opponent

Result

Sept. 5

at Anacortes

W 49-35

Sept. 12

Montesano

W 40-34

Sept. 20

at Cascade Christian

L 42-18

Sept. 26

Mount Baker*

L 24-14

Oct. 3

Lynden Christian*

L 48-20

Oct. 10

at Meridian*

L 43-15

Oct. 17

at Mount Baker*

L 21-11

Oct. 24

at Lynden Christian*

W 27-24

Oct. 30

Meridian*

W 22-20

Nov. 7

Sultan

W 48-18

*NWC 1A game

INDIVIDUAL LEADERS

Rushing

Att.

Yards

Avg.

TD

Tanner Myhre

154

742

4.8

11

Adam Mydland

57

325

5.7

1

Connor Beard

13

84

6.5

0

Joe McNeely*

13

79

6.1

0

Colton Kautz*

4

50

12.5

0

Passing

Cmp.

Att.

Yds.

TD

Int.

Tanner Myhre

192

302

2,395

22

12

Adamy Mydland

1

1

60

1

0

Receiving

Rec.

Yards

Avg.

TD

Willy Kingma

49

633

12.9

6

Connor Beard

41

628

15.3

4

Joshua Gimmaka

38

492

12.9

7

Adam Mydland

19

212

11.2

2

Brady Wood

18

189

10.5

1

*returning player

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