Steve Mullensky/for Peninsula Daily News                                Port Townsend captain Dylan Tracer is the team’s leading returning rusher (922 yards), receiver (318) and tackler (106).

Steve Mullensky/for Peninsula Daily News Port Townsend captain Dylan Tracer is the team’s leading returning rusher (922 yards), receiver (318) and tackler (106).

PREP FOOTBALL PREVIEW: Port Townsend has the pieces to contend

Experience returns at skill positions

PORT TOWNSEND — Port Townsend head coach Patrick Gaffney is both optimistic and realistic about his second Redhawks football team.

Optimism can be found in three-year starters returning on both sides of the ball in running back/linebacker Dylan Tracer and quarterback/defensive back Noa Montoya.

Tracer can do it all

Tracer will be the team’s bell-cow back and likely lead the team in tackles again defensively. He was a first-team All-Nisqually/Olympic League linebacker and second-team running back last season.

“He’s our go-to-guy and should be one of the best, if not the best player, in the league,” Gaffney said. “He’s a tough runner, one of the fastest kids and defintely the strongest kid on the team. He has that wrestling mentality.”

Tracer finished third in the 182-pound weight class at the state tournament in February.

Last fall, Montoya missed some time at the start of the season recovering from an injury, but still threw for 884 yards and 11 touchdowns with six interceptions, solid totals in the Redhawks’ ground-based flexbone offense. He also ran for 530 yards and a team-high nine touchdowns.

Montoya was a first-team All-Nisqually/Olympic League pick at defensive back and punter last year.

“He’s probably put on 10 pounds but is still as quick as ever,” Gaffney said. “A lefty, and he’ll probably be kicking off and punting for us and playing safety.

Speedster Jerome Reaux Jr. returns after piling up 534 rushing yards and four TDs as a freshman.

“He averaged 11 yards a carry last season,” Gaffney said. “He put on some weight in the weight room and he’ll see more touches this year than last year.”

Sophomore Tanner Woodley will serve a variety of roles for the Redhawks.

“Tanner is such a good athlete, such a good football player he could end up at wing [running back], receiver and could play some quarterback. He’s real versatile and our utility guy.”

Woodley also has been tested — starting the team’s season opener at quarterback last season and playing much of the year with a broken hand.

“He’s a tough kid, he caught that ball against Chimacum with the cast on his hand,” Gaffney said.

“He’s another guy that probably won’t come off the field too often. Our main guys, they won’t get too much rest, so they will have to be in shape.”

Line still in flux

Port Townsend’s question marks pop up along the offensive and defensive lines.

“Wes Blue is our returner, the other four spots are up for grabs,” Gaffney said.

Blue is a multi-year starter on the line and has good size at 6-1, 210 pounds.

He’ll be expected to help open holes offensively and close them down on defense.

The Redhawks benefited from a senior transfer student along the lines last season in Chase Campbell, an all-league pick who is playing for Hamlin College back in his former home state of Minnesota.

They have another transfer this year in Evan Toner, a 6’3, 200-pound junior from Wyoming.

Gaffney said a pair of freshmen have fared well in the first two weeks of practice.

“Toby Fulton is a 6-foot 165-pound freshman guard and linebacker who has impressed all the coaches,” Gaffney said.

“He’s one of these honor roll kids who worked hard in the weight room this summer and is understanding what we are doing and does what we ask of him. He’s playing like a senior.”

Gaffney also said freshman Siaumau Auseuga has a good shot to start on the line.

“He does not look like a freshman,” Gaffney said. “He’s a big 240 [pounds], but he’s a good-looking 240, not a McDonalds 240.”

Defensively, Port Townsend is going to make a change in its base alignment.

“We will look more like a 3-4 this year, probably,” Gaffney said. “We have to make some changes to deal with these teams that are throwing the ball a lot. Our plan is always to stop the run and [that] still will be a top priority, but we have to do a better job against the pass.”

Montoya, Woodley, Reaux and senior Kesem Coggins are likely to make up the team’s secondary.

Tracer is a lock at strong side linebacker, with Logan Massie a weak side linebacker prospect, according to Gaffney.

“Middle linebacker, I’m not sure,” he said. “We could see the [Toby] Fulton kid there playing both ways.”

Figuring out the defensive line is a work in progress.

“We definitely don’t have the d-lineman which will be the struggle,” Gaffney said.

“We will have to see how it shakes out defensive tackle-wise.”

Cascade Christian is almost a lock to win the league title every season, so the competition for the second spot in the league is hot and heavy. Klahowya took the second seed and a state tournament berth last season and the Eagles do return their leading running back in Hunter Wallis. Charles Wright, with a large number of returners, also should be in the mix.

Port Townsend

• Coach: Patrick Gaffney, second season (4-6).

• Last Year: 4-6 overall, 3-4 Nisqually-Olympic League. Missed playoffs.

• Offense: Flexbone.

• Defense: 3-4 base

• Contributors: QB/DB Noa Montoya, sr.; RB/LB Dylan Tracer, sr.; Wes Blue OL/DE, sr.; Tanner Woodley QB/WR/DB, soph.; Jerome Reaux RB/DB, soph.

• Expected team strength: Experience returns in the offensive backfield at quarterback and running back.

• Question mark: The skill position spots are set, but the Redhawks have to find and develop some linemen on both sides of the ball.

• Game to watch: Port Townsend opens with three winnable nonconference games before heading south to take on a Charles Wright team loaded with returning starters in both sides’ Nisqually/Olympic League opener.

________

Sports reporter Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-417-3525 or [email protected]

<strong>Photos By Steve Mullensky</strong>/for Peninsula Daily News                                Quarterback Noa Montoya threw for 884 yards and 11 touchdown passes and ran for another 530 yards and a team-high nine TDs in 2018.

Photos By Steve Mullensky/for Peninsula Daily News Quarterback Noa Montoya threw for 884 yards and 11 touchdown passes and ran for another 530 yards and a team-high nine TDs in 2018.

Steve Mullensky/for Peninsula Daily News                                Jerome Reaux Jr., right, worked hard to add more strength to go along with his speed. He averaged 11.1 yards per carry as a freshman.

Steve Mullensky/for Peninsula Daily News Jerome Reaux Jr., right, worked hard to add more strength to go along with his speed. He averaged 11.1 yards per carry as a freshman.

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