High School Football

Will experience and confidence lead Nooksack Valley to a winning season in 2016?

eabell@bhamherald.com

Perhaps no Northwest Conference football team took its lumps more than Nooksack Valley in 2015. With only one returning starter and fielding a team of mostly sophomores and juniors on both sides of the ball, the Pioneers won only one game.

The good news is that the growing pains the Pioneers went through last year helped foster confidence and experience for the squad coming into this fall.

“We return 11 starters on both sides of the ball,” head coach Robb Myhre said. “Our confidence has grown, and is still growing. That will be key this season.”

Michael O’Bryan, a senior wide receiver/defensive back who caught 48 passes for 480 yards and three touchdowns in 2015, said the Pioneers struggled last season to get along, but learning from last year’s pitfalls should benefit the team this season.

Last year was tough when it came to wins, but as a coaching staff we had probably the most fun we’ve had in a while because of how eager the young kids were to learn which should reflect in 2016.

Nooksack Valley coach Robb Myhre.

“Last year, a lot of guys blamed each other after tough losses and just weren’t kind to each other,” O’Bryan said. “It seemed like a lot of guys weren’t playing for each other. This season we’ve been working outside of practice to build that chemistry, and I think that has really helped.”

That budding togetherness has helped brand a new motto for the Pioneers: “Stand Together.” That motto and the goal to work more as a team has O’Bryan feeling much more confident in the Pioneers’ chances.

“I think we look really good so far in practice,” O’Bryan said. “It’s not just a bunch of sophomores and juniors running around, but a bunch of seniors that know how to play with each other after some bumps in the road.”

Many of the returning starters didn’t play junior varsity football, instead jumping straight from the freshman team in 2014 to varsity in 2015. After a year of varsity experience, their confidence has grown during practices this summer.

7 games where Nooksack Valley’s defense allowed 40 or more points in 2015.

“Practices have been good so far,” Myhre said. “There is a lot of energy from our guys, and they’re ready to play.”

Junior Casey Bauman – a 6-foot-5, 200-pound quarterback, who was the Pioneers’ only returner in 2015 and, Myhre said, is currently gaining interest from college recruiters – threw for 1,600 yards and 16 touchdowns last year while adding three rushing touchdowns. He again will play a vital role in the Pioneers’ plans this season.

“We’re depending on Casey a lot,” Myhre said. “He’s going into his second year at quarterback. He’s smart with the football, and as he goes, we will go as well.”

We have a lot more potential and I think we’ll do a lot better than last year.

Nooksack Valley senior wide receiver/defensive back Michael O’Bryan.

As important as Bauman will be, the players protecting him on the offensive line will be integral to his success, Myhre said. With the Pioneers using the spread offense, the offensive line will have to give Bauman time to stand in the pocket and complete a high number of passes.

Defensively, Myhre said, the Pioneers will depend on their defensive ends – senior Evan Blankers and junior Luke Winter. Returning 1A Northwest Conference first-teamer Kyle Vedman, a senior linebacker, also brings experience and talent to the defense.

“The biggest goal for this team in 2016 will to be better at the end of the season than the beginning,” Myhre said.

2016 schedule

Date

Opponent

Time

Sept. 2

at Blaine

7 p.m.

Sept. 9

Granite Falls

7 p.m.

Sept. 16

at Coupeville

7 p.m.

Sept. 23

at Mount Baker*

7 p.m.

Sept. 30

Meridian*

7 p.m.

Oct. 7

at Lynden Christian*

7 p.m.

Oct. 14

Mount Baker*

7 p.m.

Oct. 21

at Meridian*

7 p.m.

Oct. 28

Lynden Christian*

7 p.m.

*1A Northwest Conference game

2016 roster

No.

Player

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

Pos.

1

Jeremy Dykes

6-1

170

Sr.

WR/LB

2

Casey Bauman

6-5

210

Jr.

QB/LB

3

Kyle Long

5-6

130

Fr.

WR/LB

4

Brennan Blankers

5-7

130

Jr.

WR/LB

5

Austin O’Bryan

5-7

165

So.

QB/LB

7

Evan Neitling

5-6

135

So.

RB/DB

10

Keldon Weidkamp

5-7

150

Fr.

QB/LB

11

Halston Boersema

6-0

140

So.

WR/DB

12

Logan Clabaugh

5-7

110

Fr.

WR/DB

14

Baylor Galley

5-7

125

So.

WR/DB

15

Michael O’Bryan

5-10

165

Sr.

WR/CB

18

Zach Johnson

5-11

140

Fr.

QB/LB

20

Connor Passe

6-0

150

Jr.

WR/LB

21

Cameron Bauman

5-7

130

Fr.

WR/LB

22

Devin Lackey

5-6

145

So.

RB/LB

23

Braden Leyba

5-6

130

Fr.

RB/LB

25

Tre Silva

5-9

155

Jr.

WR/DB

27

Kyle Veldman

5-11

185

Jr.

WR/LB

28

Ryan Veening

6-1

175

Fr.

WR/LB

31

Travis Cunningham

5-8

150

Fr.

WR/DB

32

Mark Coppinger

5-11

175

Sr.

WR/LB

34

Cole Eldridge

5-11

160

Fr.

WR/DB

44

Colton Kautz

6-1

200

Sr.

RB/LB

50

Alex Boots

6-2

220

Sr.

T/DE

51

Hayden Hester

5-9

210

So.

C/DT

52

Logan Rodriguez

5-10

190

Sr.

G/LB

53

Evan Blankers

6-2

175

Sr.

T/DE

54

Easton Zylstra

5-11

200

Fr.

T/DE

55

Luke Winter

6-1

230

Jr.

G/DE

56

Zach Daniels

5-10

225

Sr.

C/DT

57

Jordan Prink

6-

210

So.

G/DT

60

Levi Harlan

6-2

210

Fr.

T/DE

62

Cy Encinias

6-1

205

So.

T/DT

64

Hunter Morgan

5-5

160

Fr.

C/DT

65

Landon Bruland

6-2

165

So.

T/DE

66

Conner Bruland

5-8

140

Fr.

G/DE

68

Kirk Veldman

6-1

270

Jr.

T/DT

69

Dane Winter

5-6

155

Fr.

G/LB

71

Tyson Mergel

5-11

260

Sr.

T/DT

74

Joey Leezer

6-1

210

So.

G/DT

78

Cooper Clawson

5-8

175

So.

G/LB

79

Devon Huskey

5-10

250

Jr.

C/DT

81

Adam Dugger

6-0

180

So.

TE/LB

82

Jordan Veening

6-4

180

Jr.

WR/DB

85

Tanner Schoonover

6-1

170

Sr.

WR/LB

86

Levi Tenkley

5-11

155

Jr.

WR/CB

88

Nick Averys

5- 9

150

So.

WR/CB

NA

Mason Lentz

5-8

190

Fr.

OL/DT

NA

Clancy Coppinger

6-0

135

Fr.

WR/LB

2015 results

Date

Opponent

Score

Sept. 4

Anacortes

L 47-33

Sept. 11

Montesano

L 56-0

Sept. 18

Cascade Christian

L 42-8

Sept. 25

at Mount Baker*

L 64-30

Oct. 2

at Lynden Christian*

L 19-14

Oct. 9

Meridian*

L 49-28

Oct. 16

Mount Baker*

L 57-14

Oct. 23

Lynden Christian*

L 35-28

Oct. 30

Meridian*

L 42-6

Nov. 6

at South Whidbey

W 51-8

*1A Northwest Conference game

2015 statistical leaders

RUSHING

Player

Att.

Yards

Avg.

TD

Joe McNeely

59

211

3.6

2

Colton Kautz

37

159

4.3

3

Casey Bauman

84

111

1.3

3

Austin O’Bryan

5

33

6.6

1

PASSING

Player

Att.

Cmp.

Yards

TD

Int.

Casey Bauman

161

281

1,622

13

7

Joe McNeely

23

42

295

1

0

RECEIVING

Player

Rec.

Yards

Avg.

TD

Michael O’Bryan

48

480

10.0

3

Kyle Veldman

31

341

11.0

1

Tre Silva

33

325

9.8

4

Michael Jackson

24

253

10.5

1

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