PORT ANGELES — The opening slate of prep football contests for North Olympic Peninsula prep teams wrapped with Neah Bay’s 54-14 nonleague win over Crescent on Monday afternoon in Joyce.
With that, it’s time for a return of the “Three things learned in high school football” column to the pages of the Peninsula Daily News.
This will be a weekly column that digs a little deeper with analysis to add some color to our game coverage.
And speaking of color, winning that Olympic League title paid dividends for the Sequim Wolves.
Sequim debuted its new home football uniforms for last Friday’s 42-14 win over Washington, replacing a set of uniforms that had seen glory days — including a spate of state tournament appearances.
The Wolves have focused on adding safer equipment to the program in recent seasons — including funding the purchase of Vicis helmets, a Seattle-based brand that is routinely ranked as the safest helmet option available and also outfits the University of Washington Football team and NFL players such as Russell Wilson.
This year, it was time for some new duds.
“We’ve had the Speedline jerseys for quite awhile. The same design going back to when I first got here [in 2004],” Wolves coach Erik Wiker said. “They were really good and we were always able to replace them if they got torn or worn down.”
Wiker said Sequim’s equipment representative was having trouble tracking down the old style, so he started looking around for options.
“One of my friends who coaches at Union [High School in Camas], they wear Adidas and they look really nice and sharp,” Wiker said.
Wiker knew the Wolves would need home purple and away white uniforms. He had Adidas mock up some different designs and had the football team make the selection last spring.
“Last spring when had our football meeting we gave the kids three choices on numbers and three choices on the arm stripes. The kids are the ones wearing them, so they should get the chance to pick them.
Initial reaction has been solid, Wiker said.
“The pants are tight-fitting, but they have a lot of stretch,” he said. “Same thing with the uniforms.”
Sequim has home purple and away white jerseys and purple, white and gold pants.
“We will be able to do some mixing and matching,” Sequim athletic director and assistant football coach Dave Ditlefsen said.
“We also still have our black uniforms and our camo uniforms, so you could still see those at some point, too.”
Sequim football players raised the funds for the new jerseys with sales of the Gold Card, a collection of coupons and discounts from Sequim-area merchants.
“The kids fundraise for them and the sale of the Gold Cards are mainly what is used to pay them,” Ditlefsen said.
And Ditlefsen said sale of the Gold Cards continues in the main office of the high school, as well.
“That’s been the program’s lifeline for years,” Ditlefsen said. “Our community wants those and expects those every year.”
Sequim also replaced the inflatable Wolf the team runs through before games and at halftime.
“It was faded, peeling and wouldn’t fully inflate,” Ditlefsen said of the old inflatable.
Neah Bay, PT changes
Neah Bay also has new uniforms this season, adding a good-looking set of red, black and white stripes to it’s road uniforms along with new black helmets, a switch from the red helmets the team previously wore.
Port Townsend added new black helmets with a red Redhawks wing logo on each side. The red wings pop out on the black helmets and look sharp. Port Townsend had red helmets last season.
All three teams with new uniforms/helmets won in convincing fashion, so this old Deion Sanders quote applies.
“If you look good, you feel good. If you feel good, you play good. If you play good, they pay good.”
Well, maybe not that last one.
Play clock changes
For some teams, the change to a 40-second play clock that begins when the ball has been marked for play on most plays, was nothing to worry about.
For other squads, it was a work in progress.
“You can’t have your QB come to the sideline [to get the next play call],” Crescent coach Brian Shimko said. “You have to have hand signals. We worked on hand signals a lot this year, because once that official sets the ball and walks away it’s time to go. I think offenses will be able to get more plays off because the defense is not ready.”
This was apparent in the Port Angeles-Forks game when the Spartans moved to a quicker tempo, calling plays at the line and generally forcing the Roughriders to play keep up defensively.
Port Angeles also was whistled for delay of game a few times, but whether that could be attributed to the play clock change or playing two quarterbacks who were making their debuts at the position is unknown.
Sequim and Washington didn’t have issues with the clock.
“We didn’t see any fallout in our game,” Wolves assistant coach Dave Ditlefsen said. “As a general rule we are pretty quick to the line because we go no-huddle. That’s not usually something we try to let bother us. I can’t recall any delay of game penalties on both teams.
“What that goes to show is it is not that drastic of a rule change. Coaches are getting subs in and plays called in time.”
Share the wealth
Having graduated the program’s all-time passing record holder Riley Cowan, Sequim didn’t miss a beat through the air as Wolves starting quarterback Taig Wiker and backup Kobe Applegate combined to complete 16 passes to 11 different Sequim receivers.
Wiker tossed TD passes of 78 yards to Garrett Hoesel, 45 to Hayden Eaton and 5 yards to Jonas Welch. Applegate found Zach Ballentine for a 21-yard TD toss as well.
Eaton and Truman Nestor paced the offense with three receptions apiece.
“I’m really happy with how much we spread the ball around; I lost count of how many different guys caught passes,” Erik Wiker said.
And Sequim showed excellent balance offensively.
The Wolves piled up 405 total yards, 258 through the air and 147 on the ground, in the win.