FORKS — It took some time for Forks senior Cole Baysinger to find his rightful position at tailback on the offensive side of the football field for the Spartans.
A state-medalist in track and field and a talented basketball player as well, Baysinger’s athletic versatility saw him star at quarterback as a sophomore.
Heck, Baysinger set a school record for passing yards in a win over Chimacum in the fall of 2015, earning a WIAA Athlete of the Week Award for throwing a school-record 355 yards in a Spartans’ win.
A change at the head coach position and a switch back to a ground-churning rushing attack had Baysinger playing at wide receiver and occasionally getting direct snaps as a wildcat QB in his junior season.
But Baysinger wasted no time cementing his status as Forks’ primary ball-carrier this past fall, rolling up 834 yards and 13 rushing touchdowns through the Spartans’ first three games.
He kept it up, rushing for 1,700 yards and 21 TDs in nine games, earning first-team All-Evergreen 1A League honors at running back and honorable mention status at defensive back as Forks improved its record by two games (6-4) and advanced to a district playoff game against eventual Class 1A semifinalist La Center.
Baysinger also caught two TD passes, threw for another and totaled more than 2,100 all-purpose yards.
For all those accomplishments Baysinger has been selected as the All-Peninsula Football MVP by area coaches and the sports staff of the Peninsula Daily News.
“I didn’t think I was going to have the season I did,” Baysinger said. “I give credit to the coaches for putting their trust in me and the offensive line and my teammates for being supportive.”
Forks head coach Emil West said Baysinger put in the time watching film, lifting weights, in practice in a bid to better the Spartans’ program.
“He watched more film than anybody, he worked as hard as anyone on the team and I know Cole gave everything he had to win as many games as possible for Forks football,” West said.
West enjoyed watching his progression at the position.
“He was a lot of fun to coach because there’s so many things he can do and can do well,” West said.
“The easiest way to get the ball to him was to hand it off, and he just grew so much as a running back.
“He learned so much about hitting the hole, bouncing outside and finding the cutback lane. He really got good at working with the offensive line, working with them to find the second level and using that burst of speed. More often than not he was the fastest kid on the field and toughest kid.”
As for that toughness, Baysinger played the final half of the season with a number of injuries.
“I played with a broken left hand the last four weeks of the season and I dislocated my shoulder and tore some ligaments and my labrum in week five against Montesano,” Baysinger said. “But it was my senior year. I had to keep going.”
West said he never heard Baysinger complain.
“I know it was hurting him pretty bad, it had to have some impact on his effectiveness, but he was still productive for us,” West said.
In a playoff-clinching victory over Elma late in the season,
Baysinger led the way, rushing 26 times for 213 yards and two scores on the game. He also had an interception that curtailed Elma’s first drive deep in Spartans’ territory.
Baysinger put the game out of reach at 20-3 with a 64-yard run through the heart of the Elma defense with 7:01 left in the third quarter.
The play was a microcosm of the player: Baysinger followed offensive lineman Luke Dahlgren’s block through the heart of the Eagles’ defense, stiff-armed an Elma player to the ground and zoomed past two other Eagles on a 64-yard TD run.
Now, West said Baysinger is looking for a spot at the next level. Baysinger said he may try and walk on at Idaho as it moves back to the Big Sky Conference and other schools, like Linfield in McMinnville, Ore., have shown interest.
“Part of me wants him to go off and play at a junior college in California, like I did and show what he can do for a four-year school,” West said.
“He will play somewhere. I know he will play college football next year.”
PORT ANGELES — Forks senior running back/safety Cole Baysinger heads up the 2017 All-Peninsula Football Team.
Baysinger was selected All-Peninsula MVP by area coaches and the sports staff of the Peninsula Daily News.
Fellow team members are: Quarterback: Riley Cowan, jr., Sequim.
Running Backs: Dylan Tracer, soph., Port Townsend; Olin Reynolds, jr., Quilcene
Wide Receivers: Gavin Velarde, sr., Sequim; Garrett Edwards, jr., Port Angeles;
Offensive Linemen: Luke Dahlgren, jr., Forks; Jackson Foster, sr., Port Townsend; Johnnie Young, jr., Sequim; Eden Cisneros, jr., Forks; Joseph Yallup, jr. Neah Bay
Tight End: Brett Moody, sr., Forks
Defensive Linemen: Foster, Robert Comstock, jr., Quilcene; Dahlgren, Moody
Linebackers: Noah Leonard, jr., Crescent; Daniel Kilmer, sr., Neah Bay; Taig Wiker, fr., Sequim
Defensive Backs: Velarde, Edwards, KC Spencer, sr., Crescent; Andy Johnston, sr., Quilcene
Kick Returner: Velarde
Kicker: Byron Rice, sr., Sequim
Defensive Backs: Velarde
Forks coach Emil West was selected as Coach of the Year for guiding the Spartans to a two-game improvement in the win column and a return trip to the Southwest District 4 playoffs.