High School Football

True that nice guys finish last? Meridian hopes to prove it’s not

Meridian football should be entertaining in 2016

Meridian quarterback Simon Burkett and football coach Bob Ames talk about what to expect from the Trojans in 2016.
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Meridian quarterback Simon Burkett and football coach Bob Ames talk about what to expect from the Trojans in 2016.

During a weightlifting session this summer, a couple of Bob Ames’ grandchildren were brought in for a visit.

After talking with them for a while, the Meridian High School football coach said he put on “Cinderella” to entertain the youngsters, while he and his coaches went into the office for a meeting.

“After a little while, I come out, and all the guys are huddled around the TV watching ‘Cinderella’ with the grandkids,” Ames said. “Then Gus – that little fat mouse – came on, and I said, ‘Holy cow, that’s me!’ It was so funny seeing all these high school-age guys watching ‘Cinderella.’ I guess they’re all just kids. We’ve got a group of nice kids this year, and they work hard.”

For those of you who don’t “speak Bob Ames,” the coaching legend almost always calls his team “nice” and “hard working” about this time of year. He usually follows it up with some colorful way of saying his team doesn’t have a shot against the “monsters of Whatcom County,” and this year wasn’t any different.

We’re all undefeated at this point. Injuries in the small schools play a huge role in how you do.

Meridian coach Bob Ames

But when Ames says how much he likes the guys on his 2016 roster, it’s clear he’s not just giving lip service.

Though Meridian last year made it to the state playoffs for the 22nd time since Ames took the reins in 1974, it was anything but a normal season. A group of players walked off the practice field before a Week 2 game at Squalicum with concerns over communication issues and practice length. The Trojans ended up forfeiting to the Storm, before the issues were ironed out and the team returned to practice the following week.

“These are the guys that stayed together through that whole thing and helped us get through it,” Ames said of players on this year’s roster.

13 Times Meridian has advanced to the state football playoffs since the turn of the millennium.

And they’re more than that – there’s plenty of talent and determination in this bunch.

“People should expect to come out and see a fun football game,” said junior quarterback Simon Burkett, “because we’re going to be fighting hard the whole game. … Our motto is, ‘Do your own job and trust that everyone else going to do theirs.’ 

Burkett has worked hard this summer to ensure he’s ready to do his job after a fairly successful sophomore season. He attended a number of summer passing camps, earning honors at a few of them.

We can do pretty good if gastrointestinal disorders pass through the rest of the county when we play them.

Meridian coach Bob Ames

“He brings a great attitude and all that experience to us,” Ames said. “Simon just keeps working.”

He’ll have to show some patience as Meridian develops a new group of skill-position players around him. Up front, even Ames admits Meridian will be “OK,” especially with the return of All-1A NWC lineman Brenten Fox.

Ames said the Trojans also return a number of starters from last year’s defensive front seven, including All-1A NWC linebackers Andrew Logan and Manuel Sabalza.

“The one thing we’ve got to do is be able to play the pass well,” Ames said. “We’re getting better, but you’ve got to have four guys that can play the pass. In our league, we have teams that can throw the ball all over with these spread offenses. If you’ve got guys that can’t defend, they’ll find you pretty quick.”

2016 schedule

Date

Opponent

Time

Sept. 2

Anacortes

7 p.m.

Sept. 9

Blaine

7 p.m.

Sept. 17

at Cascade Christian

6 p.m.

Sept. 23

Lynden Christian*

7 p.m.

Sept. 30

at Nooksack Valley*

7 p.m.

Oct. 7

at Mount Baker*

7 p.m.

Oct. 14

at Lynden Christian*

7 p.m.

Oct. 21

Nooksack Valley*

7 p.m.

Oct. 28

Mount Baker*

7 p.m.

*1A Northwest Conference game

2016 roster

No.

Player

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

Pos.

1

Dawson Logan

5-8

140

So.

QB

3

Dante Castaneda

5-3

120

So.

RB

5

Cole Roberts

5-3

125

So.

RB

6

Dawson Phillips

5-6

130

Sr.

WR

7

Jordan Birnel

5-5

135

Sr.

WR

8

Bryce Vandenhaak

5-5

135

Jr.

RB

9

Josh Plagerman

5-10

145

Sr.

WR

10

Andrew Logan

5-9

155

Sr.

TE

12

Matt Belanger

5-6

140

Jr.

TE

12

Hunter Holt

5-8

195

Sr.

OL

13

Simon Burkett

5-10

150

Jr.

QB

14

Harlon Stuit

5-10

145

So.

WR

18

Luke Gookstetter

5-6

145

Jr.

WR

20

Josh Needer

5-5

130

So.

WR

21

Lucas Hemenway

5-5

135

Jr.

WR

30

Brayden Zender

5-5

135

So.

RB

31

Baker Otter

5-6

145

Jr.

TE

32

Tony Schleimer

5-7

150

Jr.

RB

33

Dylan Hickok

5-6

140

So.

RB

35

Noah Richardson

5-5

145

Sr.

RB

44

Bryson Hickok

5-4

135

Jr.

RB

45

Tanner Bouwman

5-3

120

So.

RB

47

Oscar Madrigal

5-6

155

Sr.

RB

50

Enrique Gomez

5-7

150

So.

OL

51

Luke Carson

5-6

155

Jr.

OL

59

Braedon Kyzar

5-6

195

Sr.

OL

60

Dustin Bell

5-6

150

So.

OL

61

Manuel Sabalza

5-5

145

Jr.

OL

62

Brenten Fox

5-6

185

Sr.

OL

74

Hesser Sotello

5-6

145

So.

OL

77

Adam Kruzich

5-10

165

So.

OL

78

Bo Roberts

5-7

195

Sr.

OL

81

T J Dykstra

5-10

145

Jr.

WR

82

Trevor Pagnossin

5-10

155

So.

TE

2015 results

Date

Opponent

Score

Sept. 4

Hoquiam

L 36-21

Sept. 11

at Squalicum

L (forfeit)

Sept. 18

at Chelan

W 49-14

Sept. 25

at Lynden Christian*

W 40-13

Oct. 2

Mount Baker*

L 33-28

Oct. 9

at Nooksack Valley*

W 49-28

Oct. 16

Lynden Christian*

W 41-18

Oct. 23

at Mount Baker*

L 36-15

Oct. 30

Nooksack Valley*

W 42-6

1A NORTHWEST DISTRICT PLAYOFFS

Nov. 6

Cedar Park Christian

W 42-6

1A STATE PLAYOFFS

Nov. 14

Hoquaim

L 25-20

*1A Northwest Conference game

2015 statistical leaders

RUSHING

Player

Att.

Yards

Avg.

TD

Nick Dritsas

178

1,021

5.7

12

Tony Schleimer

76

449

5.9

3

Simon Burkett

55

299

5.4

5

Marcus McGuinn

33

158

4.8

2

PASSING

Player

Att.

Cmp.

Yards

TD

Int.

Simon Burkett

99

178

1,374

16

6

Marcus McGuinn

26

50

428

5

3

RECEIVING

Player

Rec.

Yards

Avg.

TD

Nick Dritsas

42

736

17.5

10

Marcus McGuinn

23

344

15.0

4

Andrew Logan

17

225

13.2

2

Daniel Young

19

207

10.9

3

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