By Lee Horton
Peninsula Daily News
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For others, it's a cruel reminder of the conditioning they never got around to doing.
High school football returned to the North Olympic Peninsula on Wednesday as practices opened throughout the state.
Here are five storylines to watch in 2014:
■ 1. Can Neah Bay keep pace with itself?
The Red Devils are coming off their second Class 1B state championship in three years and their third consecutive state title game appearance.
Neah Bay has been the class of 8-man football in the state the past few years.
This season, many quality athletes return and there is no reason to believe that the Red Devils won't be reloading.
How much they can match the ammunition of what they lost — a graduating class of size, athleticism and intangibles — will be the question this year.
And, they get right to it, opening the season against Cusick and Lummi, both perennial state powers whose seasons were ended during Neah Bay's romp to the state title last November.
Three All-State players return — John Reamer, Collin Haupt and Cole Svec — as do other major contributors to last year's state championship such as Cameron Buzzell, Collin Haupt and Elisha Winck, so Neah Bay obviously has the talent to start the season 2-0.
But even if they don't, this could be a team that peaks at the end of the season.
■ 2. How will Port Angeles and Sequim do?
It has been a rough two years for the area's 2A teams. They have combined for four wins in that time.
Both should be better this year.
The Roughriders have some big linemen and two quarterbacks with varsity experience in Nathan Angevine and Ryan Rodocker.
The Wolves don't quite have the size of Port Angeles, but they will be bigger and more experienced.
They also have Miguel Moroles, the best passing quarterback on the Peninsula, and head coach Erik Wiker expects more of a running game this year.
How good each team will be likely depends on how well their defenses perform.
■ 3. What about the 1A division of the Olympic League?
Port Townsend and Chimacum are in a much better situation this year with the Olympic League's other Class 1A teams, Klahowya and Coupeville.
If nothing else, the path to the postseason is clear: win the division and you're in.
Klahowya and Port Townsend are probably early favorites based on the last two years.
Perhaps the most interesting thing is that the four teams play each other twice.
That can be good or bad.
The teams will be familiar with each other the second time around, which might lead to boring follow-up games.
Or the coaches will pull out some tricks, which could be awesome.
Also, Chimacum versus Port Townsend twice is a fun thing, especially with the first of those games being played at Chimacum High School the afternoon of Oct. 3.
■ 4. Now, about that forward pass
Recently, area teams haven't taken advantage of this relatively new invention — relative to the beginning of the world — much.
Port Townsend has its version of the Wing-T, Port Angeles has its version and Forks has been playing another version. Chimacum has been employing the flexbone.
However, Port Townsend is looking to throw the ball more with Jeff Seton under center, Crescent is looking to go to the air because it better fits its personnel and Chimacum will have more pass plays in its offense.
So, quarterbacks this year might be more than running backs who take snaps.
The downside of this that incomplete passes lead to long games.
■ 5. Players to watch
Of the 22 players picked for the 2013 All-Peninsula offensive and defensive teams, only five return this season: Reamer, Trevon Noel of Chimacum, Roberto Coronel and Matt Robbins of Port Angeles and Forks' Dimitri Sampson.
So, there will be a lot of new faces on this year's all-area team.
Here are some players to watch:
Chimacum: Drew Yackulic, Noel, Travis Pennington.
Clallam Bay: Casey Randall, Kelly Gregory.
Crescent: Zach Fletcher, K.C. Spencer.
Forks: Sampson, Miguel Morales, Javier Contreras.
Neah Bay: Reamer, Haupt, Svec, Buzzell, Joshua Monette.
Quilcene: Colten Pol, Nate Weller.
Port Angeles: Coronel, Robbins, Angevine, Rodocker, Sam Burton.
Port Townsend: Seton, Wesley Wheeler, David Sua.
Sequim: Moroles, Josiah Anastasi, Dylan Lott, Chris Whitaker.
Sports Editor Lee Horton can be reached at 360-417-3525 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.