QUILCENE — Quilcene had its hands full last fall, tackling one of the tougher schedule slates to open the season and weathering injuries to players at pivotal positions before rallying to make another state tournament appearance.
A year later the Rangers return many of the players that produced in-season turnaround that led to a 4-1 Northwest Football League record after an 0-2 start to the season.
Smith returns at QB
Quilcene will lead with senior Dominic Smith (6-1, 200) at quarterback, while Oliver Hopkins also will see time as signal caller.
Smith also will lead the Rangers defensively.
“Dominic Smith, he’s a big strong, fast kid,” coach Trey Beathard said. “He’s a physical kid, he’s just too good for us not to keep him there at DE. if he wasn’t so good we would rest him.”
Beathard described Hopkins as a “real steady guy.”
“He’s one of those guys who just seems to have a better understanding of sports than other people,” Beathard said. “He has sport smarts. When he’s not at QB, he’ll be at tight end and he’s also working at free safety defensively.
Leading rusher Mason Iverson returns at fullback.
“He’s pretty dang strong,” Beathard said of the junior. “He’s playing fullback for us and weighs about 190, he’s about 5-10 190, so good-size.”
Senior Andrew Perez will get carries at running back.
“Andrew and Dominic especially, worked really hard all summer lifting weights and training for this season,” Beathard said.
“Andrew stepped in at free safety in game four and had about six or seven interceptions, including one game with three interceptions. He and Dominic are our fastest players and Andrew is pretty athletic. We will use him at corner back and running back.”
Eli Iverson, Mason’s brother, also will see time in the backfield.
“He’s a little bit smaller and faster than Mason,” Beathard said. “Eli has good speed and he’ll be a defensive back for us as well.”
Sophomore Robert Evans is a skill position player on both sides of the ball.
“He’s a pretty shifty guy,” Beathard said. “We’ll use him as a wide receiver and he’ll play running back as well. He likes the game, likes to play football and I like that about him.”
Quilcene’s largest player, 6-foot-3, 240-pound lineman Taylor Boling also possesses plenty of athleticism.
“The other day I walked through the gym and saw him dunk the basketball,” Beathard said. “He moves around really well for a kid his size. He’s a good athlete in basketball and baseball and he’s gotten stronger, quicker and taller than he used to be.
“He’ll play guard and nose guard for us. I have high expectations for him. If he’s not one of the best 1B defensive linemen in the state than I haven’t done my job.”
Quilcene will be without last year’s initial starting quarterback and free safety Jayden Love. Love suffered a broken leg in week four.
“He broke his leg on a hit out of bounds and he’s not recovered from that completely yet,” Beathard said. “He still comes out and throws the ball, but he’s not yet back to running.”
“I’m a little prejudiced but I think Neah Bay and Quilcene will be the two best teams in the league,” Beathard said. “We might lose every game, but that’s what I’m thinking. Coach [TJ} Greene has been the head coach before, he was involved with the team when he wasn’t head coach, and he does a great job with a lot of good athletes. It’s hard to beat Neah Bay in any athletic event.”
Quilcene will play a similar schedule to last season.
“I like playing the best nonleague schedule we can because it prepares us for the playoffs,” Beathard said. “We had years when our backups saw more time in games than our starters because the games were lopsided. We don’t have that problem now. Our best players are playing more, proving themselves more and preparing more for the playoffs.”
• Coach: Trey Beathard (eighth year, 55-14 overall)
• Last year’s record: 6-5, lost to DeSales in Class 1B state playoffs.
• Key returners: Dominic Smith (QB/DE, Sr.); Mason Iverson (FB/LB, Jr.); Eli Iverson (RB/LB, Sr.); Taylor Boling (OL/DL, Jr.); Andrew Perez (RB/DB, Jr.); Oliver Hopkins (QB/TE/LB, Soph.)
• Newcomers: Tucker Boling (RB/LB, 8th); Tyler Matheson (TE/DE, 8th); Isaac Figueroa (TE/DE, 8th).
• Strengths: Return leading running backs from 2022.
• Areas to improve: Smaller roster than in previous seasons, so conditioning will be important for Rangers.
• Outlook: Quilcene should be in the playoff chase all season and that Oct. 28 game at home against Neah Bay could be for the No. 1 seed and a playoff bye.
• Schedule: Sept. 2: Naselle at Memorial Field, Port Townsend, 1 p.m.; Sept. 8: at Mossyrock, 7 p.m.; Sept. 16: Concrete, 1 p.m.; Sept. 30: Crescent, 1 p.m.; Oct. 6: at Darrington, 6 p.m.; Oct. 13: at Lummi, 6 p.m.; Oct. 21: at Tulalip Heritage, TBD; Oct. 28: Neah Bay, 1 p.m.
Sports reporter/columnist Michael Carman can be contacted at at firstname.lastname@example.org.