QUILCENE — Quilcene is coming off arguably the best football season in school history, in which it captured the team’s second straight SeaTac 1B League title, earned a state playoff road win and advanced to the Class 1B state semifinals, bowing out with an 11-1 record.
Hard to top that level of performance, but a talented and capable — if not extremely deep — roster returns for the Rangers in 2019.
We had a lot of depth last year and we had more injuries than normal and were able to overcome them,” Quilcene head coach Trey Beathard said.
“This year we have some really good players, but not quite the depth that we had last year. I’m hoping that we will be lucky injury-wise, because we will have a little more of a dropoff than we had last year if we have to replace them.”
The Rangers return starting quarterback Holdem Elkins, a senior who led the SeaTac League in passing yards, passing touchdowns and completions. He is 15-1 as the starting QB.
Elkins will be protected by a big crop of lineman led by junior Zach Budnek, listed at 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds, and who doubles as a nasty nose guard defensively. Budnek led the team in tackles and was an honorable mention all-state pick by the Associated Press in 2018.
Younger brother Deakon Budnek is 6’1, 250 and will be part of the team’s offensive and defensive lines.
“He’s the strongest kid on our team and he can move,” Beathard said.
“I expect him to be a good offensive lineman for us.”
Beathard said Deakon Budnek won the camp strongman title at the Entiat team camp.
And senior Kristian Mack will play the tackle/tight end position for Quilcene.
“He’s super fast for a lineman and has good feet,” Beathard said.
“He’s played a lot of football for us and I expect him to be one of our best players. He was first-team all-league as a 10th grader, but had some nagging injuries last season that kept him out.”
Max Redmon is another returning starter along the offensive line.
The Rangers do have skill position players returning, but figuring out a rotation and how carries will be divided up has yet to be determined.
“Bishop Budnek started at fullback for us last year pretty much the whole season,” Beathard said. “He catches the ball well and runs it well. A bigger back, he’s around 208 pounds and he doesn’t have the speed that Olin [Reynolds] had or Ben Bruner had. But he’s a different kind of back and is smart with his cuts.”
The three Budnek brothers also were weight-room warriors for the Rangers this summer.
“We opened the weight room every Monday, Wednesday and Friday after going to team camp, so there were 25 chances to lift,” Beathard said.
“Zach and Bishop came every single time and Deakon missed once because he had to baby sit the youngest kid.”
As for the tailback spot, Beathard has some bodies available.
“We have a kid that started quite a bit at defensive back, Isaac Dugdale,” Beathard said. “He’s got pretty good speed and is one of our fastest players and he will play tailback as well.”
Chase Newman is another player Quilcene will count on.
“We have played him at a lot of different spots and he’s real football smart,” Beathard said. “I expect him to get reps at QB, tailback and fullback. And we will play him at linebacker and defensive back. He’s just real versatile.”
Beathard also expects freshman Cash Thacker to contribute this season after being slowed by an ankle injury as an eighth grader.
With those big bodies on the line, Beathard and the Rangers will remain a squad built on power. But despite the graduation of All-State tight end Robert Comstock III, Beathard said he expects to let Elkins take to the air.
“I plan to throw the ball more,” Beathard said. “Zack Budnek has been a pretty good receiver for us. He’s not quite as tall as Robert, but he’s a load.”
Quilcene is the favorite to win a third-straight SeaTac League title, but Beathard expects to be tested.
“Our first league game is at Rainier Christian on the turf [at Kentwood High School],” Beathard said. “They have all their best players back, so that will be a super-important game for us.”
• Head coach: Trey Beathard, 4th season (26-5)
• Last Year: (5-0, 12-1) Sea-Tac League Champions. Advanced to Class 1B State Semifinals.
• Offense: Power run
• Defense: 3-4-1
• Contributors: QB/DB Holdem Elkins, sr.; OL/DE Zach Budnek, jr.; TE/OL/DL Kristian Mack, sr.; RB/DB Isaac Dugdale, sr.; RB/DB Bishop Budnek, soph.; RB/LB Chase Newman, jr.; OL/DL Deakon Budnek, fr.
• Expected team strength: Experienced and big lines should help Quilcene control the line of scrimmage.
• Question mark: Rangers must replace bulk of production from their rushing and receiving corps.
• Game to watch: Quilcene visits Rainier Christian in its SeaTac League opener on Oct. 4. Beathard said Mustangs return much of their roster, so this will serve as an early test as Rangers seek third straight league title.
Sports reporter Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-417-3525 or [email protected]