As the Whitworth Pirates reach the midpoint of fall camp in preparation for their Sept. 3 football opener against Chapman, they are closer to answering two of the biggest questions facing the young team.
Who will replace Adam Anderson, a two-time Northwest Conference offensive player of the year and one of the best players in program history? And, who will start at quarterback?
The candidates at running back include the Thomas brothers, junior college transfer Ronnie and freshman Danny, senior Sean Scott and junior Ian Case. Scott ran for 136 yards last season while Case had three carries.
“Ronnie has explosiveness and speed and (Danny) was an outstanding high school player so he’s also very solid,” head coach John Tully said. “Sean is going to get carries and Ian knows the system.”
At quarterback, freshmen Zac Hill (North Central High) and Bryan Peterson (West Valley) are “side by side,” with sophomore Daniel Charvoz (Sandpoint) a “close third,” Tully said. The coach added that Michael McCune and Kyle Beane will continue getting reps and have had good moments in camp. Taylor Eglet, who had 1,324 passing yards and eight touchdowns as a sophomore last season, didn’t return for personal reasons.
The 6-foot-4, 207-pound Hill passed for nearly 2,000 yards as a senior at North Central. Peterson, 6-2 and 206 pounds, spent the last three years playing minor league baseball in the Boston Red Sox organization. He just started throwing in practice this week after straining an abdominal muscle.
“Both of them have lively arms,” Tully said. “Brian has been away from the game, but athletically he’s talented. Zac has a really high upside and throws the ball exceptionally well. The big thing for them is learning the offense and as the year goes on they’ll get better and better.”
Tully hopes to name a starter by early next week at the latest.
The Pirates return all five starters on the offensive line and three experienced tight ends. Jake DeGooyer is the top returning receiver with 24 catches in 2010. Austin Ehlo, a Lewis and Clark product who transferred from Washington State, should make an impact. Dale Entel, who had a team-high 48 receptions last season, isn’t back for his senior season.
The Pirates have a solid secondary, led by cornerback Cailen Thomason and safety Casey Monahan (Mead). Scott Carr (Lakeland) and Ryan Loutsis are holding down linebacker spots. Chris Meyer, Nic Brockhoff and Grant Livingston (Ferris) are in the mix.
Sam Wright (Mead) and Brodrick Hirai form a strong tackle combination. Ian Schneidmiller (Mt. Spokane) provides experience at end, but he’s battling a rib injury.
Of 87 players on the roster, 50 are newcomers.
“We’ll have some young guys playing, but the nice thing is they’re young and talented,” Tully said. “We’ll take that.”