By Lee Horton
Peninsula Daily News
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NEAH BAY — The defending champs have some holes to fill.
Neah Bay bid farewell to a senior class that led the Red Devils to their second Class 1B state championship in three years and made their third straight state title game in 2013.
That graduating class included the starting quarterback, starting backfield, top receiver and starting offensive line.
Most of those seniors were two-way players, so they also will need to be replaced on defense.
But the biggest void they left is intangible.
“Probably the main thing that concerns me and that I'm looking to see is leadership,” Neah Bay coach Tony McCaulley said.
The program has already experienced some growing pains, as the offseason participation declined to the point that the Red Devils didn't play summer football.
“I think someone will pick it up in the regular season,” McCaulley said, listing senior John Reamer and sophomores Cameron Buzzell and Cole Svec as players he foresees as some of the team's leaders.
All three were starters last year, and McCaulley praised the offseason work put in by each player.
Buzzell, who started at defensive back last year, will be in the mix to replace two-time state player of the year Josiah Greene at quarterback, along with freshman Ben Greene, Josiah's little brother.
“He has great ball skills,” McCaulley said of Buzzell, “and he beat Josiah Greene in the 100-meter [dash during the track and field season], which is impressive.”
Ben Greene, meanwhile, has the best arm on the team, McCaulley said.
A bigger question mark than quarterback is the offensive line.
The Red Devils have plenty of skill players, but not many lineman to replace 2013 starters Mitchell McGee, Carl Mack and Bill Hanson.
McCaulley said that the offensive line made strides in the spring, but some of the team's skill players might be needed on the offensive line.
Despite all the starters Neah Bay lost, there is still a lot of talent returning.
“We have some kids who nobody has ever seen because it was hard to get on the field with all those seniors,” McCaulley said.
“We're kind of rebuilding, but I think we will be tough.”
One player who really impressed McCaulley in the offseason was senior Elisha Winck, who is expected to start at fullback after filling in most of the season while Tyler McCaulley was sidelined with injuries.
“Elisha Winck looked really good in the spring,” Tony McCaulley said.
“He looked better than I've ever seen him. He's strong and he can run the ball better than I thought.”
Sports Editor Lee Horton can be reached at 360-417-3525 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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