FORKS — It all starts up front for Forks. And that’s a positive for a Spartans squad loaded with experience and toughness along the offensive line.
“We will have three guys on the line that have been starting since they were freshmen, so it’s a huge part of our offense,” head coach Emil West said.
Forks seniors Eden Cisneros, Luke Dahlgren and Iziah Morton are those long-term starters and they will be joined by sophomore Trey Baysinger at right tackle and the winner of what West described as a “battle” between another pair of seniors in Zeke Rosa and Domonyk Qunneke.
“The offensive line has been with me all four years,” West said. “I’ve always been the OL coach and I’m hard on those guys. We have long practices, long individual sessions and I’ve taught them just about as much about playing line as I know.”
Those linemen won’t be opening holes to pay dirt for All-Peninsula Football MVP Cole Baysinger. Baysinger graduated after totaling more than 1,700 rushing yards and 21 TDs. He also won the Boys’ Track MVP in the spring and will compete as a decathlete for Lewis & Clark State’s track team in Lewiston, Idaho this fall.
Hard charging back
Senior running back/linebacker Tristan Pisani should get the bulk of carries this fall in Forks’ power running game.
“Our offensive line loves to block for him,” West said. “He has some shiftiness, but he’s a bulldozer. Tristan never goes down with the first tackler ever. You love to have a guy in the backfield who keeps his legs churning and is always driving for more yards.”
Caleb Peters returns at fullback.
“He’s coming into his own, running tough and really starting to come on as a blocker in our isolation plays against linebackers,” West said.
West said seniors Colby Demorest and Keith Thompson also will get carries at running back as well as Skyler Steffan and Josh Salazar.
Forks went into summer camp at Central Washington University with the same goals as 2017: Branch out a bit more in the passing game offensively and become a little bit more stingy through the air on defense.
“The big emphasis this year, like it was last year is we know we can pound the rock, we can convert on fourth downs, but we need to be able to throw the ball consistently,” West said.
Senior Gabriel Reaume returns for his third straight season as a starter.
“Gabe has matured,” West said.
“He’s had some nagging injuries the past couple years that are taken care of and he has some great targets at tight end and receiver.”
Senior Brett Moody was an All-Evergreen League selection at tight end and defensive end in 2017.
“He’s a great blocker and another guy who has started since he was a sophomore,” West said.
Moody also took snaps at QB when Forks went to a wildcat package offensively and the change of pace worked well for the Spartans.
Sophomore Tony Flores should be another passing catching target and West called him a shutdown-type cornerback defensively.
“Tony is a playmaker,” West said. “A stud soccer player, a phenomenal athlete and a shutdown type guy at corner.”
And Joe Reaume, a Forks basketball player and Gabriel Reaume’s cousin, also should see time at wide receiver.
The biggest change defensively is Moody’s move to the defensive backfield.
“He’s been an all-conference D-end for us, and it’s hard to give him up,” West said.
“But we have two new defensive backs coaches and they saw him and wanted him at safety.
“I’m a little bummed to lose him, but he’s such a great athlete. He has that sideline to sideline speed and he’s been making the shift really well at [preseason] camp so far.”
West, who was an assistant in 2015, and took over as head coach in 2016, is focused on sending the Spartans’ seniors out on a high note.
“Just getting to have one more season with this group of seniors will be special,” he said.
“I came in with this senior class when they were freshman and we have had some growing pains but they’ve built the program back up. It’s a special group and I can’t wait to see what they will do this season.”
And with a schedule that features three games against traditional Olympic League rivals Port Angeles (week one), Sequim (week two) and Port Townsend (week three), more Forks fans will get a chance to see what the Spartans can do this fall.
West, for one is thrilled with Forks’ schedule.
“We want to play a tough schedule but it’s really a matter of where they are located,” West said. “Kids growing up here in Forks and the rivals are Port Angeles and Sequim. And once you get to high school you don’t play them and it doesn’t make sense to me.
“And parents want to see their kids play. Every road trip is 3 or 4 hours [in the Evergreen League].”
As for the Evergreen League, West said Montesano lost a couple of its top players in Carson Klinger and Trevor Ridgway, but the Bulldogs should reload and compete for another league title.
It’s Hoquiam that has West’s attention. The Grizzlies have knocked Forks out of the league’s second playoff seed and forced the Spartans into third place the past two seasons.
“Hoquiam has a big buzz right now, a lot of confidence right now,” West said. “We saw them at camp and had a good battle with them but one where we couldn’t really give either side the win. I know they were dipping in their playbook for some trick plays while we were working on our bread and butter stuff.
“Hoquiam has had big turnouts in the past and it’s been tough to get the kids to wrap their heads around beating a team like that.
“But I think this squad knows when we put our best 11 on the field they are as good or better as what we are going to face from a team with 70 kids.”
• Head Coach: Emil West, 3rd season (10-9).
• Last Year: 6-4, third in Evergreen League. Lost to La Center in district playoffs.
• Offense: I-formation, Double-Tight, One-Back.
• Defense: 4-4-3.
• Contributors: Brett Moody TE/DB; Tristan Pisani RB/LB; Luke Dahlgren OL/DL; Eden Cisneros OL/DL; Tony Flores WR/DB; Gabriel Reaume QB.
• Expected team strength: Experience along the offensive line and a bruising running game.
• Question mark: Replacing production of graduated All-Peninsula Football MVP Cole Baysinger.
• Game to watch: Spartans open with three straight North Olympic Peninsula foes: Port Angeles and Port Townsend at home in week one and three and at Sequim in week two. Win all three and Forks has bragging rights.
Sports reporter Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-417-3525 or [email protected]