Sequim head coach Erik Wiker gives instruction to players in a non-league game at Forks in September 2023.
Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group
Sequim head coach Erik Wiker gives instruction to players in a non-league game at Forks in September 2023. Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group

Sequim head coach Erik Wiker gives instruction to players in a non-league game at Forks in September 2023. Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group Sequim head coach Erik Wiker gives instruction to players in a non-league game at Forks in September 2023. Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group

PREP FOOTBALL: Sequim head coach Erik Wiker steps down after two decades in charge

Won 123 games, eight league titles in 20 years

SEQUIM — It’s a clip a decade and a half old, but the play never gets old. The host Klahowya Eagles — a smaller team, but talented and lightning quick — had the upper hand, driving deep into Sequim’s end of the field. Up three points with a couple of minutes left, a touchdown essentially would end the game.

Sequim head coach Erik Wiker called a timeout, imploring his players to make a stand.

“I said, ‘This is it. If you do not stop them, you will lose.’”

On the next play, Eagles quarterback Danny Zimny rolled out and flung a pass toward speed demon Andre Moore. Standing in the way was Wolves linebacker Chris Riggs, who picked off the Zimny pass and raced for the other end zone.

In a footrace, Wiker recalled all these years later, Moore would beat Riggs every time. But the Sequim linebacker had a small head start and a lot of heart. By midfield, the Eagle peeled off and Riggs raced to the end zone in a 21-17 Sequim win.

“It was one of those championship moments,” Wiker said. “I used that for years.”

Come this fall, for the first time in more than two decades, Sequim football won’t have Wiker patrolling the sidelines as its head coach.

The program’s all-time leader in wins and playoff appearances by a lineman-sized margin, Wiker resigned his position in the spring.

“It was kind of a long time coming,” said the 54-year-old Wiker. “It’s been challenging in many ways.”

Wiker said that, as a coach, he looked to put 100 percent into the job — which meant overseeing offseason camps, spring ball, seven-on-seven scrimmages, two-a-day practices, watching game tape and scout films, helping with team dinners and all regular season and postseason games, with breaking down plays on tape the day after.

“I thought, ‘If I can’t put that much effort in, let someone else do it. If I can’t do it right, I don’t want to do it.”

Coached four sons

Wiker, who took the reigns as head coach in 2004 after working as an assistant under Bill Anderson for four seasons, got to coach four of his sons — Jack, Taig, Lars and Liam — through the program, but noted “my time’s always been divided among everyone.”

This school year, Wiker said he spent time connecting with his son Lars, a senior, sitting in the stands and enjoying varsity basketball games.

Stepping out of the head coaching role, he said, will allow him to do the same as his son Liam finishes up his final two years of high school.

Sitting in the weight room reflecting on his two-plus decades of coaching while Liam gets in a workout, the elder Wiker said that by this time in mid-spring he’d be bugging players to get in weight lifting and participation documents, prepping for spring ball and summer camps, with a mind on that season opener in the fall.

The thought that kept coming to mind, Wiker said, was this: “Could I spend my time being more productive?”

As a youth, Wiker said, he always had in his mind to be a teacher and a coach, a goal rooted in positive physical education throughout high school, junior college and college.

Wiker was a lineman in high school in Alaska, paying his dues on offensive and defensive lines. He moved on to a junior college for two years, then played on the University of Idaho’s offensive line.

After his playing days were done, he did some offensive line scouting for the Vandals, then took a job in Post Falls, Idaho, working with linemen.

But coaching in college wasn’t the plan, he said, for fear of losing touch with his family.

“I didn’t want them to be second fiddle,” Wiker said. “I wanted to be part of my kids’ lives.”

Wiker said he could have taken over his father’s roofing company, but he saw the 15- and 16-hour days and six-of-seven days per week during the busier parts of summer would keep him from his family, too.

These days, he said, he gets to drive his sons Lars and Liam to school and give them hugs.

“If I was roofing I wouldn’t have that,” Wiker said.

He took a job as an offensive line, special teams and strength coach in Nevada before moving to Sequim with family in tow in 2000.

When he joined the program as an assistant in 2000, no Sequim High School football coach in the previous three decades had stayed in the position for more than five years. Some moved on to coach at other schools; some stayed in the district to coach other sports or at the middle school; still others were contemplating retirement by the end of their tenure.

Off to a strong start

Wiker and then-head coach Bill Anderson worked to improve turnout, boosting the roster from 38 players in 2000 to more than 70 players just four years later.

In Anderson’s first season, the Wolves went 0-9; four years later, in his final season in 2003, the Wolves went 7-3.

When Wiker took the reins as head coach in 2004, he said, “I plan to be here the rest of my career,” not [just] four years then move up, down or sideways.”

Wiker’s Wolves saw success immediately, no doubt helped by the team’s shift from the Pierce County League to smaller, 2A Nisqually League in 2001.

But in succeeding interviews, Wiker said the wins have come in a sort of convergence of things: the boost in turnout, the move in leagues, the emphasis on spring practices and summer camps, and in part because those who played for Anderson knew their new coach well.

In 2004, Wiker’s first campaign, the Wolves went undefeated in the regular season (6-0 in Nisqually League, 10-0 overall).

The Sequim coach recalls his first game: a 20-14 nail-biter against Washington. The Wolves followed that with walloping wins over Port Angeles (37-6), Forks (47-0), Bainbridge (42-21), Chimacum (41-7), Klahowya (40-14) and Vashon (51-0).

Only a one-point loss to Franklin Pierce (36-35) in the state 3A tourney play-in game spoiled the season, Wiker said — and a chance to play juggernaut Bellevue in the first round.

Sequim football went on to roll to seven league championships in his first eight seasons, including their first state tournament victory in 2009. Sequim’s league record from 2004-2011 was 47-2.

Wiker surpassed Bill Schade’s program standard of 33 wins by 2007, and wrapped his tenure with an overall record of 123 wins, 76 losses, eight league championships and 12 postseason appearances.

Those early wins saw a prototypical Sequim team run, run and run, throwing for fewer than 100 yards per game as the Wolves relied on a stable of spry running backs and a beefy offensive line.

Later years saw the Wolves use misdirection and screens to allow its speedier athletes to get into open ground, and as quarterbacks such as tall, strong-armed quarterbacks such as Drew Rickerson and Riley Cowan took on lead roles the offense evolved to the spread formations seen in recent seasons.

Game-planning wiz

Many of those wins, including Sequim’s state tourney win over Burlington-Edison in 2009 (34-32) and a number of frustratingly close losses in the playoffs — a 7-6 heart-breaker in 2005 to Lindbergh, a 22-20 defeat to highly ranked Tumwater in 2006, a 21-14 decision against Centralia in 2008, the 2004 loss to Franklin Pierce — came because Wiker and coaches found ways to be innovative, despite being out-sized or out-numbered.

“A lot of it is being outside of the box; I’ve had to be creative,” he said. “We won all the games we should have won — and some games we shouldn’t have.”

14-5 against Riders

As for the Rainshadow Rumble, Wiker’s Wolves were 14-5 against Port Angeles since renewing their rivalry back in 2004, with Sequim posting two five-game win streaks (2008-2012 and 2015-2019) during that stretch.

Those games against Port Angeles, Wiker said, were both a benchmark for how his teams were developing and a source of community pride, as victorious players would hoist the Rainshadow Rumble trophy overhead.

“Beating PA was like winning the Super Bowl,” he said. “I know it meant a lot to people in the Sequim community.”

Leader of Wolfpack

Wiker said he could sense it was time to step down when the COVID pandemic hit in March 2020. Prep sports that fall got pushed into spring with players required to wear masks in games, on the sidelines and in practices — though, the now former Sequim coach noted, they wouldn’t wear them outside of practice when they’d all hang out.

Just 19 players were available on the first day of practice.

“For me, with my personality, it was not good,” Wiker said. “That was a hard year to bounce back from.

“It was kind of the beginning of the end.”

The Wolves had a number of highlights from that abbreviated season, going 3-2 with wins over Bainbridge, South Kitsap and Central Kitsap, but Sequim went 3-5 the next season and 2-7 in 2022 and 2023.

Though he won’t miss the enormous time spent, Wiker said he’ll miss a number of things about leading the Wolves: the camps, the practices, much of the off-the-field things.

This past season, Wiker said he got a chance to take players to a University of Washington game. For no fee, the teens got to see where recruits are taken, watching game action of a top-four team from the sidelines and even be part of the “tunnel” that Huskies run through prior to kickoff.

“We try to make sure fun things like that happen,” Wiker said. “I will miss that.”

As for on-the-field aspect, he said he’ll miss “the chess match of it all,” watching film and figuring out how to beat an opponent.

Towel play tradition

Along with a cavalcade of wins, Wiker’s legacy includes connections with players — “I would say most of the kids like me when they left.

“I was hard on them because of high expectations,” he said — along with a number of traditions, from players reciting the team creed prior to game time to singing the school fight song with the crowd after the final whistle [win or lose] to the popular “towel play,” a specially designed trick play revealed each year at the Homecoming pep assembly and put into action during that Friday’s Homecoming game.

“Hopefully they remember those types of things,” Wiker said. “I do hope they go on.”

Asked if he’d coach again, Wiker said, he said it’s possible: it’d be here in Sequim, and most likely not as a head coach. He said he would be open to doing the offensive or defensive coordinator position, but only if he’d be able to implement his own system and not learn a different one.

“It would have to be the right situation,” he said.

Until then, Wiker plans to shift to the role of supportive father and program backer.

He’ll help inflate the familiar giant Wolf that players run through in pregame festivities, film plays if needed, and generally cheer on Liam and company.

“I know how it is trying to get people to help; I’ll always support the coaches because I know how it is,” Wiker said.

“It’ll be different. That first practice will be pretty tough.”

Sequim High head coach Erik Wiker leads his football squad in a preseason practice in August 2023.

Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group
Sequim Gazette file photo by Michael Dashiell / Sequim players listen as head coach Erik Wiker gives instruction in a 2017 game against Port Angeles.

Sequim Gazette file photo by Michael Dashiell / Sequim players listen as head coach Erik Wiker gives instruction in a 2017 game against Port Angeles.

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