Practices can’t provide a true substitute for the action of a live football game. All coaches will agree on that.
But practice does make perfect. Or at least continually improved. And in this COVID-impacted environment, practice is taking on a different look at some schools.
Quilcene has seen two games canceled due to COVID-19 quarantine issues, and Neah Bay, which has had residents in lockdown, also has had players in quarantine through its first two games.
Being cautious with practice plans, including implementing different drills and more solo training, is the way for the Rangers.
“We are not tackling at practice due to close contact concerns,” Quilcene coach Trey Beathard said.
Nearly every prep squad has reined in the live-speed hitting and tackling at practices in order to teach proper technique at slower speeds due to concussion-related concerns over the past decade and change.
But teams do need some live action in practice.
“It’s hard for the defense to get ready for game speed,” Beathard said. “We can’t give a good look at practice at game speed, so it takes a bit of time for kids to get their angles right to start out a game.”
And the lack of repetition for those who miss time at practice due to protocols also has had an impact.
“We’ve had a lot of players out for contact tracing, and after 10 days, some of the simple stuff like a center snap or handing the ball off to a running back becomes much more difficult,” Beathard said.
The next Wiker
First it was Jack Wiker taking snaps in the Sequim backfield. Then a four-year break followed while Riley Cowan reset the Sequim record books, followed by Taig, the All-Peninsula Football MVP in 2019, and now Lars Wiker has taken the reins as the Wolves’ quarterback.
Wiker showed off a strong, if not entirely accurate, arm in last week’s Rainshadow Rumble victory over Port Angeles.
He consistently found the 6-foot-4 Isaiah Moore for catches, many of them screen passes, to help build his confidence and also managed to find Kobe Applegate for a 46-yard connection on a wheel route.
Wiker did take a number of sacks in the pocket and will need to step up more in the face of the rush or take off and scramble for yardage. The Wolves also need more practice on the center-quarterback shotgun snap, as a number of snaps sailed over Wiker’s head during the contest.
He did well on a couple of designed quarterback draw plays, and Sequim will need to use his legs more to avoid becoming one dimensional offensively.
East side at Civic
Port Angeles returns home to Civic Field and the east-side sideline for a matchup with a North Kitsap team ranked No. 1 in the Evans Rankings, No. 4 in the AP poll.
“It’s kind of part of the culture change we are working on,” coach Dustin Clark said. “We have to make certain changes and focus on us and not the crowd and where they are at. I watched too much of that from the stands in town. Before I took the job, I let [athletic director] Dwayne [Johnson] know that was important to me. We need more engagement.”
The Riders sideline did seem more interested in the results on the field in their home opener against East Jefferson two weeks ago than in many contests in recent seasons.
Far too much tragedy and loss has been felt across the North Olympic Peninsula’s prep community this year.
Clallam Bay girls basketball coach Mike Maines died of cancer, while Forks paraprofessional and Spartans’ sports announcer Pete Haubrick died, likely of heat stroke, during the late June heat wave.
Now West End communities must mourn the loss of three young people, including Tyler Ellis, who played football and wrestled for Forks, and Shaiyann Cummins, who played basketball for the Neah Bay girls.
A proud Port Angeles parent, Curt Rodocker, also died Sunday. Rodocker was a mainstay for years at Roughrider and Peninsula College contests, first watching as his daughter Paxton starred for Port Angeles and later won a title at Peninsula College before moving on to play soccer and basketball at NCAA Division I Mississippi Valley State.
He also celebrated his son Ryan, a baseball and football player for Port Angeles who holds the distinction of being the last Rider quarterback to win a rivalry game with Sequim.
We mourn them all.
Sports reporter Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-406-0674 or [email protected] dailynews.com.