Forks’ Nate Dahlgren (40) busts loose for yardage during a 2022 game against Sequim. (Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

Forks’ Nate Dahlgren (40) busts loose for yardage during a 2022 game against Sequim. (Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

PREP FOOTBALL PREVIEW: Senior-heavy Forks team also has 14 freshmen

FORKS — Forks is set to rely on a deep and experienced crop of seniors providing leadership to a large freshman class all while enjoying a new set of stands at Spartan Stadium and the ability to compete with the best Class 2B football teams in the state on a weekly basis.

The Spartans have 34 players out for the team, including eight seniors and 14 freshmen.

“Eight seniors, that’s the biggest senior class I’ve ever had here,” coach Trevor Highfield said. “We’ve had one senior before, so to have eight, all of whom should start on either both sides of the ball or one side of the ball, so that’s great to have.”

Optimism is high in preseason thanks to some strides made in the offseason.

“We had some good scrimmages with Port Angeles and Sequim to close out spring football and end the school year,” Highfield said.

“We’ve consistently had right around 30 guys out for weight training and conditioning. We also went to the Adna camp and that was really a meeting of the top 2B teams in the state. There were nine teams, Raymond/South Bend, Toledo, Tri-Cities Prep, and we were able to get some really important work in.

“So when we look at where we are at in camp, we always go back each year and monitor where we are at and we have added more this year and that’s because we have kids who are experienced and able to process that new information.”

Forks plans to open things back up offensively after a season employing the single-wing formation.

Senior Landin Davis will get the opportunity to start at quarterback.

“Landin will be our starting QB and defensive end,” Highfield said. “The idea of working to get a different QB is to improve our ability to throw the ball down the field. We have some receivers, some young guys that can stretch the field. Landin — he’s an athlete, a tough kid, too. And he has done a nice job of leading and taking advantage of that opportunity.”

Senior Nate Dahlgren will again captain the team and serve as the Spartans’ lead ball carrier.

“Nate will be our tailback and strong side linebacker and there are not enough positive things to say about this guy,” Highfield said. “He got to go to Eastern Washington’s camp this summer and he’s a multifaceted guy, and one of our better players for all three years of high school. But it’s his leadership on and off the field that impresses me the most. He’s our hardest worker in the weight room, he has a 4.0 GPA, it’s great to be a coach when you have a guy like Nate in your program.”

Senior Gunner Rogers will move over to wide receiver and also play as a linebacker/defensive back hybrid.

Rogers was a second-team All-league pick as a running back and honorable mention at linebacker last season.

Senior Sloan Tuamau, 2B’s reigning state champion wrestler at 220 pounds, will anchor the offensive line and also play linebacker.

Walker Wheeler, another senior, will play along the offensive and defensive lines.

“He’s extremely strong and our leader in the weight room,” Highfield said. “He saw the need we have on the offensive line and has stepped up.”

Senior Mike Dunn also will see time on both sides of the lines.

Junior Brody Lausche is expected to move to fullback after earning honorable mention All-League as a sophomore offensive lineman.

“He’s a big kid with broad shoulders, over six feet tall and right around 200 pounds,” Highfield said. “He plays with good leverage and we are excited about him at fullback.”

Junior DeAnthony Davila, sophomore Landen Olson and sophomore Noah Foster will all see plenty of game time at wide receiver and in the secondary.

Freshman Bubba Hernandez will slot in all over the field. Hernandez started at catcher as an eighth-grader for the Forks baseball team last spring.

And Forks has a pair of twin freshmen who should see some time.

“Troy and Tre Martensen, twin freshmen over 200 pounds,” Highfield said. “They will get playing time.”

• Head coach: Trevor Highfield (fifth season, 20-12).

• Last year’s record: 4-3 (2-3), missed postseason in Class 2B Central North.

• Key returners: Nate Dahlgren (RB/LB, Sr.); Gunner Rogers (WR/LB/DB, Sr.); Walker Rondeau, (DB, Sr.); Sloan Tumaua (OL/LB, Sr.); Sebastian Quenneke (OL/DL, Sr.); Walker Wheeler (OL/DL, Sr.); Brody Lausche (FB/DL, Jr.).; Landin Davis (TE/DE, Sr.); Landen Olson, (Ath/LB, Soph.)

• Newcomers: Bubba Hernandez (Ath, Fr.); Tre Martensen (OL/DL, Fr.); Troy Martensen (OL/DL, Fr.).

• Strengths: Experienced and talented senior class will lead the Spartans. Forks opens with three straight home games to build confidence.

• Areas to improve: Consistent push on both the offensive and defensive lines will help the Spartans improve in 2023.

• Outlook: Defending state champion Napavine didn’t lose much talent and will be eyeing a repeat title. Raymond/South Bend made the leap to a playoff team last season and Pe Ell-Willapa Valley is always tough.

“It’s a top-notch league and some of the best football in the state,” Highfield said. “That competitive challenge is one of the best aspects.”

Schedule: Sept. 1: Sequim, 7 p.m.; Sept. 8: Neah Bay, 7 p.m.; Sept. 15: Morton-White Pass, 7 p.m.; Sept. 22: at Ilwaco, 7 p.m.; Sept. 29: at Raymond/South Bend (at South Bend), 7 p.m.; Oct. 7: vs. Friday Harbor at Sequim, 2 p.m.; Oct. 13: at Coupeville, 5 p.m.; Oct. 20: Pe Ell-Willapa Valley, 7 p.m.; Oct. 26: at Napavine, 7 p.m.

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