Billy Rowell has a preference when it comes to documenting his goals.
“It you’re really serious about setting a goal, you write it in pen,” the Central Valley High School senior lineman said. “If you write it in pencil, it can get erased.”
An All-Greater Spokane League football honorable mention tackle a year ago, Rowell is one of three, three-year starters on the offensive line. Branson Schmidt, the starter at left guard, was a first-team All-GSL pick a year ago.
“Everyone was talking about how experienced we were on the offensive line coming into the season and they were picking us to win the league,” Rowell said. “But I think they forgot that we have a whole new defense. Most of the guys on defense played their first varsity football game last week.”
The Bears fell to Mt. Spokane in their opener last week at Joe Albi Stadium, 33-27, but they turned things around Thursday night with a rousing 31-14 victory over Mead. After giving up 478 yards in last week’s loss, the Bears limited Mead to 229.
“Our offense was good last week,” Rowell said. “We rushed for more than 300 yards. But we gave up 250 yards rushing, too. We had the ball and were driving when time ran out and if we had scored then, we would have won the game by a point.
“We’re going to fix that. Our defense is going to be good. We have great coaches over there and the guys on defense are all good players.”
That’s when Rowell discusses the merits of pencils vs. pens.
“I told my teammates that, even though we’d made all these lofty goals before the season started, but we only wrote them down in pencil,” he explained. “If we didn’t get serious and do what it takes to write them down in pen, they were going to get erased.
“My first year we got to the state quarterfinals. That little taste of the playoffs was great and we all want to get back and go even farther this year. We can’t let our season get away from us.”
Rowell has confidence in his teammates.
“Our team motto is ‘Hit and Hustle,’ ” he said. “Coach (Rick) Giampietri is always telling us that you’re always going to make mistakes. But you can make up for a lot of it by just going out and hitting someone.”
Rowell plays primarily on offense, but he said he and the rest of his offensive teammates are unwavering in their support of the defensive unit.
“Oh, absolutely,” he said. “Whether it’s patting a teammate on the back, picking them up and supporting them when they make a mistake or cheering for them when they make a great play – we’re behind them all the way. We’re a team.”
And they’ve been a team from the outset, he said. They put in the hard work during the summer and they committed to making good on that list of preseason goals.
“We had our workouts together and we had our time in the weight room – and every day, everyone was there,” he said. “There’s a difference this year. For the past two years I’ve played the game, but I kept thinking about the future. I played as a sophomore, but I knew it would all come together when I was a senior.
“Now, it’s all about playing for right now.”
Rowell said he understands how tough it can be to make the jump to varsity football in the GSL. He was somewhat thrown into the deep end of the pool as a sophomore starter.
At first, the game seemed as though it whizzed by at 150 miles per hour. They got the job done, sure, but there was always that “sink-or-swim” aspect to the year.
“That whole year was kind of a blur,” he said. “We had a middle linebacker on that team who probably weighed about 185 pounds. Every day in practice I would pull out and try to block him and he would knock me on my butt. I would get to him and he would roll me every time.”
This year, he said, all the work on technique has become second nature. And having a talented, experienced offensive line has allowed the offense to add some new plays.
“Coach G and our offensive line coach, Sam Giampietri, are both great offensive minds,” he said. “Most offenses run stock plays from a playbook. Coach G has built this offense from scrap. He designed the plays himself and he’s always coming up with new wrinkles. He and Sam will go off and talk things through and then they’ll come back with something different for us. We can adapt our offense to whatever defense we’re going against.”
And when it comes to execution, Rowell said, the CV offense is in no position to point fingers.
“We sat and watched the films from that first game and there were mistakes all over the place,” he said. “Yes, we did OK. We gained a lot of yards. But we weren’t really good. Not yet.”
The 2010 season has Central Valley playing their first three games at Albi Stadium on Thursday nights.
“The first time we play at home will be for the Greasy Pig,” he said, referring to the annual showdown with rival University. “It’s a little different playing on Thursday, which means we come right back and practice on Friday and have a practice Saturday. I don’t mind that.
“What I think helps us is that we can all go together on Friday night and watch whoever we play next in person. I think it helps us to see them in person and get a feel for what they’re like.”