PREP COLUMN: Today’s the day for Neah Bay

Longtime Forks coach Rick Gooding steps down

Today’s the day for Neah Bay when the No. 2-seed Red Devils (10-0) take on No. 5 Liberty Bell (10-2) in the Class 1B State Football Championship.

Kickoff is set for noon at Mount Tahoma High School in Tacoma. The game will be live streamed on the NFHS Network.

And really, it’s been about this first Saturday in December for Neah Bay since all the way back in the spring.

“We have been talking about Dec. 3 since May [spring football practices],” Red Devils head coach Kane Bachelor said. “The boys have heard all of us say we need to play our best football on Dec. 3. We aren’t surprised to be in this championship game and they’ve been visualizing playing in this championship game since the spring.

“Hopefully, that kind of consistent, encouraging messaging pays off for us.”

Bachelor said his team remains healthy and injury free, a season-long blessing.

“We are so blessed in that regard, we have made it to this point clean. Super blessed.”

Bachelor said he belives the game’s outcome will be decided by each team’s respective strength.

“We feel our strength is in our linemen and theirs is with those skill positions players. I saw some things we better watch out for on film, they have some electric players and they tackle with bad intentions. We’ve challenged our offensive line to make it happen.”

Gooding steps down

Longtime Forks boys head basketball head coach Rick Gooding resigned during the offseason. He compiled a 114-92 overall record in 10 seasons, guiding his hometown Spartans to an Evergreen League title in 2018-2019 and an undefeated run in 2021’s COVID-condensed season.

Gooding said he wants to be there to cheer on his high-school freshman daughter Grace’s athletic and academic acheivements.

“If a varsity season was just the middle of November to the beginning of March it would be one thing,” Gooding said. “But to run a program the right way, it’s a year-round comittment. I want to be the best dad I can be and not miss any volleyball or softball or anything else’s into.”

Gooding said he inherited the program in a positive trajectory.

“I got the program in a really good position from Scott Justus and I just wanted Forks basketball to be a team that would provide a tough matchup. One of the things I always wanted to instill in our kids is that we were going to always outwork other teams, and hopefully some of those traits of integrity and responsibility stick around for sure.”

Gooding said he enjoyed each year on the bench.

“The year with Parker [Browning] and Marky [Adams] in 2017, our undefeated COVID year — I still wish we had a real season that year because that team was talented. Other years where we didn’t win a lot of games were the years I thought I learned the most. And even if you don’t win a lot of games, you can learn a ton.”

And Gooding will still be around to root on Forks basketball and chat up his former players.

“It’s obviously pretty cool to have successful seasons, but when you see them out of school after a few years and you see those kids that have turned into good fathers, college graduates and business owners, there’s definitely some pride there.”

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Contact sports reporter Michael Carman at mcarman@peninsuladailynews.com.

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