By Lee Horton
Peninsula Daily News
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“So, are you guys going to win it all this year?” Port Townsend's head coach was asked.
Last year, the question might have been, “Will you win at all?” because the Redskins were coming off two consecutive seasons without a win.
But a physical, talented and junior-heavy squad managed a 4-6 record in 2012.
Now, all those juniors are seniors, and expectations are high.
The Redskins return nine starters on both sides of the ball.
The offense will again be led by athletic quarterback Jacob King, who received All-Peninsula and second-team all-league honors as a junior.
Running back Matt Cain is the Nisqually League's top returning rusher with 747 yards last season.
Tim Russell and sophomore fullback David Sua will be the other backfield starters. Sua saw late-season action as a freshman in 2012.
Port Townsend will again be a run-heavy team, but when King drops back to pass, he'll have a nice target in Skyler Coppenrath.
Coppenrath, an All-Peninsula and all-league first-team defensive lineman, is back to anchor the defensive front, along with Spencer Bond, Max Ghai and Alex Reierson.
Behind them will be all-league first-teamers Cain (linebacker) and King (defensive back).
With all the Redskins have back from last year's team, they should be one of the top teams
in the Nisqually League Division 1.
“Hopefully, we'll be pretty competitive this year,” Snyder said.
Port Townsend opens on the road against 2A Granite Falls on Saturday.
Much has been made about what the Cowboys don't have, namely a large roster, a lot of experience, and players such as two-time Nisqually League Defensive Player of the Year Daryl Settlemire and 1,000-yard rusher Mel Thornton.
The lack of eligible players has already forced the cancelation of Chimacum's season opener against Forks (which was scheduled for today), and Settlemire and Thornton won't be easy to replace.
But what about what the Cowboys do have?
For starters, a three-year starter at quarterback in Alex Morris. Morris also earned all-league second-team honors at defensive back.
Drew Yackulic was a first-team all-league defensive back and second-team wide receiver as a sophomore in 2012.
Chimacum head coach Shawn Meacham said that Yackulic's role will increase on offense this year.
“Drew made a lot of big steps last year,” Meacham said.
“We'll use him in different spots: wide receiver, running back, and maybe even as a quarterback sometimes.”
Linebacker Gregg Shold (“Heck of a linebacker,” Meacham said.) and sophomore defensive lineman Trevon Noel were both named to the Nisqually League second-team defensive team last season.
Meacham is excited about some of the newcomers, as well.
Nick Jones, a sophomore, didn't play last year due to a broke leg.
“He's a strong boy,” Meacham said.
Brendan Naylor is a tall, athletic newcomer. Meacham: “I'm excited to see what he can do for us.”
Finally, Victor Hitt is a junior running back who runs a 4.7-second 40-meter dash.
The Cowboys will take this week off due to the cancelation, and open its season at Klahowya next Friday, Sept. 13.
The Spartans have 13 seniors this season.
Head coach Mark Feasel said most of them have been playing together since youth football, and another coach estimated those seniors have won 75 percent of their games together.
“This bunch is pretty used to winning, so we have high expectations for this season,” Feasel said.
One of those seniors is Leo Gonzales. Last year, the SWL-Evergreen Division coaches voted Gonzales second-team all-league at offensive line and honorable mention at defensive line.
He also received all-camp honors at Forks' summer camp at Linfield College.
Feasel said Gonzales will play tight end on offense this year.
Dmitri Sampson is expected to be the feature back in the Wing-T offense. Brett Pederson and Miguel Morales will also receive a lot of carries.
The quarterback battle is between Javier Contreras, a junior, and sophomore Reece Moody.
Feasel said Contreras is more athletic, but Moody has more experience playing quarterback.
“We have two really good quarterbacks,” Feasel said, adding that both will receive significant playing time.
After Chimacum canceled the opening game, Forks had to scramble to find an opponent for this week, but they found one.
The Spartans will play Charles Wright Academy at Stewart Field in Aberdeen on Saturday afternoon.
Sports reporter/outdoors columnist Lee Horton can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5152 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.