By Michael Carman
Peninsula Daily News
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PORT TOWNSEND — A new nickname, a search for leadership and some tweaks on offense are planned for Port Townsend in 2014.
Gone is the long-standing Redskins nickname, replaced by Redhawks after a student-led mascot selection process.
“It's different and will take a while to get used to,” Port Townsend coach and alumnus Nick Snyder said of the switch.
“It was a little bit odd at first, but it's getting easier.”
Lost to graduation is do-everything All-Nisqually League Division 1 MVP quarterback Jacob King, who is now playing at Pacific Lutheran University.
Along with King, two 900-yard plus rushers in Matt Cain and Tim Russell and all-league offensive linemen Max Ghai, Alex Reierson and all-league tight end/defensive end Skyler Coppenrath, all graduated.
The loss of King and the ascension of his likely successor at quarterback, senior Jeff Seton, will lead to some different looks on offense.
“The difference between Jeff and Jacob is Jacob was more comfortable with the option, while Jeff is a more traditional, drop-back passer,” Snyder said.
“We will do more play-action with Jeff and change the playbook with him, but that's not a bad thing.”
Snyder was looking at Seton as his starter at the beginning of the summer and has liked what's he seen out of the confident signal caller.
“The kid can flat out throw the football,” Snyder said.
“He's really accurate with the ball, has great technique and understands his progressions.”
After spring practices and jamborees with Washington and Yelm, Snyder was pleased with what he witnessed out of his almost-all-new backfield.
“I felt we were a little ahead of the game after losing the entire backfield from last year, minus David Sua,” Snyder said.
Sua, a 220-pound junior this year, rushed 39 times for 242 yards last season.
Another back to watch is junior Wesley Wheeler, who Snyder said is at 230 pounds entering the season.
“The backfield is much different than last year,” Snyder said.
“We were small and fast last year, and while we aren't as fast this year, we've got good pad level and some guys who can just run people over.”
Despite the graduation losses, the Redhawks will have plenty of size on the offensive and defensive lines.
Snyder mentioned 6-foot-2-inch 327-pound junior Lucas Foster, 6-foot 290-pound Luke Flanigan, 175-pound Keegan Khile, along with Dave Hoagland, Tyler Manthe, Zach Parcher and Ellis Henderson as in the mix for spots on the line.
“I think we are in good shape on the lines,” Snyder said.
“We have plenty of size, but also have some quicker guards that can get out and set the edge so we can run more buck sweep and outside run plays.”
Snyder also praised the improvement of senior Liam Anderson.
“He's really doing a great job at tight end,” Snyder said.
“At camp he was probably the most improved overall and just did a great job catching and blocking for us.”
Snyder was referring to a team camp at Ellensburg High School with 2A schools Ellensburg, Steilacoom, and 1A Cascade (Leavenworth).
Snyder's looking to feature Seton's passing skills this fall and said he'll need some targets to step up in camp.
“Wide receiver is a little up in the air,” Snyder said.
“We do have a basketball player that turned out, Chris Adkins — good speed, good hands — but that position is probably the most up-for-grabs.”
“We can also put Liam [Anderson] out wide. His receiving ability really stepped up.”
What players will assume the leadership roles that King and company held last season is still unclear and will likely remain so through the first few games.
“Sua, Wheeler and Khile were the guys leading the team in the weight room this offseason,” Snyder said.
“Seton has great leadership ability in him and he's at the position where we look for leadership, so I expect him to step up.
“It takes a bit of time for the cream to rise to the top and I think we will find our leaders come game time.”
Sports reporter Michael Carman can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5152 or at email@example.com.
Previous camp previews
Neah Bay: http://tinyurl.com/NeahBayCamp
Clallam Bay: http://tinyurl.com/ClallamBayCamp
Port Angeles: http://tinyurl.com/RidersCamp