SPORTS: Prep football teams start practice

Friday night lights are almost back.

The high school football season officially kicked off with the beginning of summer two-a-days on Wednesday.

Here’s a quick glance at each of the North Olympic Peninsula’s teams entering the 2009-10 season:

Port Angeles

• Coach: Dick Abrams (First year)

• Last year: 1-6 in Olympic/Western Cascade (seventh place), 1-9 overall

• First game: Sept. 4 at North Mason

• Player to watch: Cameron Moon, Sr., DB

Moon played both ways for the Roughriders last season, earning first team All-Olympic/Western Cascade League honors on defense with 96 first-to-the-ball tackles and two fumble recoveries.

“We’re excited about him,” Abrams said.

• Camp concern: The Riders, coming off a 1-9 campaign that led to former coach Keith Moorman’s forced resignation, must get to know a new coach and a new system for the sixth time in the last 10 years.

The focus of the preseason will be learning Abrams’ Wing-T offense, which he implemented as head coach of the Stanwood Spartans the last seven seasons.

“We’ve been working on it,” said coach Abrams, who held a couple of camp sessions in Port Angeles this summer to get acquainted with his players.

“That’s what we did today, and that’s what we’ll continue to do for the next couple of weeks.”

Sequim

• Coach: Erik Wiker (Sixth year, 43-12 overall)

• Last year: 6-1 in Olympic/Nisqually League (second place), 8-3 overall

• First game: Sept. 4 vs. Forks

• Player to watch: Thomas Gallagher, Sr., OL/DL

Several college football programs have the Wolves’ mammoth left tackle on its radar, including Princeton, Oregon and Idaho.

“He’s getting quite a few looks,” coach Wiker said. “He’s done some things, and people are noticing him.”

Of course, it would be hard no to considering his size: 6-foot-4 and pushing 300 pounds.

• Camp concern: The Wolves have a roster full of athletes, and Wiker’s staff has tweaked things accordingly.

That includes the installation of a couple of spread sets on offense designed to open up the passing game.

It’s something that would seem almost blasphemous considering Sequim’s recent success as a grind-it-out running team.

“I would still say we’ll look more different that we really are,” Wiker said. “We’re still going to run power, we’re going to run counters . . . we’re just adding to what we’ve done in the past.”

Port Townsend

• Coach: Brian O’Hara (Second year, 6-4 overall)

• Last year: 4-3 in 1A Nisqually League (fourth place), 6-4 overall

• First game: Sept. 4 at Coupeville

• Player to watch: Eric Thomas, Sr., QB

Thomas will start at quarterback for the fourth straight season this fall.

He looked sharp when he was able to last season, finishing with 1,269 yards passing and nine touchdowns despite missing three games due to a head injury.

• Camp concern: Port Townsend is hoping to build on a 4-1 finish that gave the Redskins their first winning season since 2004.

Former offensive coordinator Scott Ricardo is out of the picture, but the Redskins plan on keeping their wide open passing attack with Thomas at the helm.

“We’re working on some new schemes that we’ve got and kind of adding to what we did last year,” coach O’Hara said.

Chimacum

• Coach: Shawn Meacham (First year)

• Last year: 1-6 in 1A Nisqually League (seventh place), 1-9 overall

• First game: Sept. 4 vs. Kingston

• Player to watch: Nick Reynolds, Sr., OL/DL

Nobody worked harder than the 5-10, 205-pound senior lineman this summer, according to coach Meacham.

“He’s not the biggest kid, but he uses his leverage well,” Meacham said. “He has great technique, and he’s been a hard worker in the weight room.”

• Camp concern: Meacham is making the jump to the high school level after coaching at Chimacum Middle School the past 10 years.

He inherits a varsity program that has won just two of its last 20 games.

“We’ve got a long way to go, but we’re working hard,” Meacham said. “The kids have been really dedicated from spring practice through the summer.

“We’re going to keep things the same, but we’re going to have multiple offensive sets and multiple defensive sets. We want to be able to utilize the strengths of our personnel a little bit more and take advantage of what other teams are giving us.”

Forks

• Coach: Ron Hurn (Third year, 13-8 overall)

• Last year: 6-1 in SWL Evergreen Division (second place), 9-2 overall

• First game: Sept. 4 at Sequim

• Player to watch: Colby Gagnon, Jr., LB/C

Gagnon was a first-team All-SWL Evergreen Division linebacker after leading the Spartans with 110 tackles last season.

He will once again key the Spartans’ hard-hitting defense as a senior.

• Camp concern: The Spartans lost a once-in-a-decade player with the departure of Evergreen Division MVP Luke Dixon.

Forks must find a way to replace his 1,806 rushing yards and 29 touchdowns if it is to match last season’s 9-2 run to the Class 1A state playoffs.

“We’ve got actually three kids that are pretty darn good [at running back],” coach Hurn said of Luke Brown (Jr.), Alexis Ayala (Soph.) and Shane Whiteeagle (Fr.).

“They are a different style of running [from Dixon], but they got the job done this summer. It’s hard to replace Luke, but you do what you can.”

Quilcene

• Coach: Alan Reimann (Second year, 0-6 overall)

• Last year: 0-4 in Sea-Tac League (fourth place), 0-6 overall

• First game: Sept. 12 vs. Crescent

• Player to watch: C.J. Schreier, Jr., RB/S

The hardest-working Ranger goes into preseason a new player.

“He spent a lot of time, probably the most of anybody, in the weight room,” coach Reimann said. “He got a lot stronger and a lot bigger, and he’s a lot faster too. So we’re expecting some good things out of him.”

• Camp concern: Quilcene must rebuild a program that has fallen on hard times.

Since the Rangers had to forfeit several games last year due to insufficient numbers, the Sea-Tac League imposed a junior varsity schedule on the program.

Without a shot at a league title or state, the Rangers find themselves in football purgatory.

The good news: they already have more athletes in camp (18) then they did all of last season.

“We actually have a lot of new kids that we’re really excited about that are going to do some big things for us,” Reimann said. “There’s a lot of options for us this year.”

Crescent

• Coach: Tim Rooney (Fourth year, 7-23 overall)

• Last year: 3-2 in North Division of PCL (third place), 6-4 overall

• First game: Sept. 5 vs. Mary M. Knight

• Player to watch: Dylen Heaward, Sr. RB/DB

• Camp concern: The Loggers are looking to keep the momentum from last season’s solid turnaround going this fall.

Rooney and his Loggers enter the season with confidence earned from last year’s trip to the postseason, their first since 1996.

“We have a lot of experience and team speed,” Rooney said. “It’s just a matter of putting it together.”

Senior lineman Josh Anderson will hope to clear paths for Dylen Heaward once again this season.

“We want to move them around and get them in as many positions as possible this year, and we are definitely looking to them to lead the team,” Rooney said.

Neah Bay

• Coach: Tony McCaulley (Second year, 8-4 overall)

• Last year: 4-1 in North Division of PCL (second place), 8-4 overall

• First game: Sept. 4 at Tahola

• Player to watch: Shane DePoe, Sr., OL/DL

DePoe was the only player in the Pacific Coast League to earn first-team all-league honors on both offense and defense.

• Camp concern: The Red Devils have transformed into consistent playoff participants in the latter half of the decade, visiting the postseason three of the last four years. That includes an appearance in the 1B state playoffs last season.

With a handful of players returning, including two all-league performers up front (DePoe and Anthony Rascon) and Drexler Doherty at quarterback, perhaps this is the year the Red Devils win a PCL title.

Clallam Bay

• Coach: T.J. Greene (Second year, 1-8 overall)

• Last year: 0-5 in North Division of PCL (sixth place), 1-8 overall

• First game: Sept. 11 vs. King’s Way Christian at Oakville

• Player to watch: Taran Bowlby, Sr., OL/DL

Coach Greene is counting on Bowlby to provide leadership for his young team.

“He’s being counted on to take them under his wing and show them the right way to do things,” Greene said.

• Camp concern: Player turnout is an issue for the Bruins again this year after playing last season with just 11 athletes on the roster.

New assistant coach Calvin Ritter, a Clallam Bay native, is working hard to get a larger turnout this year.

“He’s going to be out there talking to kids and parents and getting them excited to play,” Greene said of Ritter.

“We lost a few close league games that could have gone either way, and I think the lack of a bench really hurt our chances.”