November 21, 2009 in Sports

Schoesler helps WV stop streak

By The Spokesman-Review

Defense has been a source of pride and the primary reason for West Valley’s football success this year, with Sam Schoesler in the middle of it.

The Eagles’ third-year starting middle linebacker has recorded 100 tackles or more each season on a team that is 11-0 and in the state quarterfinals for the first time since 1987.

The Eagles play state perennial Othello at 4 p.m. today at Gonzaga Prep with a chance to become WV’s fifth state semifinalist.

Schoesler is one of five Eagles two-way starters. He was in on 104 tackles as a sophomore and had 100 last year. To date, the 5-foot-11, 205-pound stopper has compiled 135.

He’s returned two fumbles for touchdowns and caught four TD passes at tight end.

But it isn’t just his dedication to the craft that enabled WV to get over the playoff hump at last since joining 2A and the Great Northern League five seasons ago.

It is his leadership that catches the eye, coach Craig Whitney said.

“He’s been very consistent and physically worked tremendously hard, as far as strength and speed goes, and he’s a tremendously smart player,” Whitney said.

But his intellect, affinity for game film and ability to impart what he’s learned to teammates are even more vital, Whitney said.

“He’s a defensive captain and coaches the guys as much as we do,” Whitney said. “We have a couple sophomores playing and he puts them in the right spot all the time.”

Schoesler said he was always too big when playing Grid Kids tackle football to be anything other than a linebacker.

“That’s what I focused on, because I couldn’t run the football,” he said.

He calls the defensive signals and credits defensive coach Geoff Hensley with teaching him proper reads and drops. It was Hensley who said prior to the season that this was the best Eagles team he’d been around, especially on defense.

The casual comment proved to be true.

“I think our defense can shut down any team,” Schoesler said. “That’s what we’re good at. If the offense is (struggling), we can always get the ball back.”

He felt during WV’s 29-0 win over Selah in the first round of state that the Eagles simply wore out the Vikings.

Schoesler became an Eagle after he attended the district’s open enrollment City School as a youngster, played middle school sports and stayed with his teammates. When he made varsity as a sophomore he admitted to being overwhelmed by the size of the upperclassmen.

“After a couple of games, I played better and better as the year went on,” Schoesler said.

Last year didn’t go as well as WV planned, but this year so far has been perfect.

As a captain and team leader he was one of the seniors who made sure everyone was on the same page during summer camps, weight training and 7-on-7 tournaments. As a result, West Valley was able to build depth and outscored the opposition 322-96.

“We decided in our freshman year we wanted to stick together and start winning,” Schoesler said.

It’s translated into one of the best seasons in West Valley football history.

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