For the first time in six years, Colton coach Clark Vinning will field an eight-man football team without one of his players named Straughan.
The brothers Straughan, Josh and Jake, had roamed the gridiron for the Wildcats dating back to 2008. Josh is now playing for Stillman College, in Tuscaloosa, Ala., and Jake, who graduated this spring, will play basketball at Idaho.
“He was a great athlete,” Vinning said of Jake. “You can’t go into the season trying to replace him with one guy. We have to do some things a little differently to replace what he brought to the table.”
Colton, which also lost five other seniors, will have to reload to keep pace with league champion Touchet, which finished 6-1 in the Southeast 1B league and went 12-1 overall. The Indians lost the state championship to powerhouse Neah Bay.
But Vinning noted that Touchet lost, by his count, 10 seniors. “But I think they had 35 kids out.”
St. John-Endicott coach Steve Selk agreed with Vinning, saying Touchet’s depth makes it a tough team to beat.
“They have three or four team’s worth of players,” Selk said. “They will wear you out even if they don’t beat you with their starters.”
Liberty Christian finished second with the exact same league record as Touchet and Colton at 6-1. The Patriots, located in Richland, finished 8-2 overall and they return most of their good players.
“Last year, we ended up losing to Touchet, but we beat Liberty Christian,” Vinning said. “Then Liberty Christian beat Touchet. That’s how all three of us ended with one league loss. It came down to matchups on that one.”
Despite the loss of six good players, Vinning said he has returning talent in Carter Dahmen, who played receiver but will now replace Jake Straughan as quarterback for the team that lost to Rosalia in the quarterfinals at state.
The Wildcats also return their entire starting offensive line in Luke Moore, Cody Meyer and Austin Staley. They will block for returning sophomore Grant Kinzler, who had more than 300 yards rushing as a freshman.
But none appear to have the impact of the brothers Straughan.
“At our level, you don’t see that level of talent all the time,” Vinning said. “But, it’s an opportunity for other kids to step up and do their thing.”
Vinning said he expects an improved Pomeroy team. The Pirates finished 2-5 in league and 3-7 overall last year.
“Pomeroy probably returns the most out of anybody in the league,” he said. “Their weakness will probably be their line. But all the skill positions are back.”
Garfield-Palouse finished fourth in the league at 4-3 and posted a 4-6 overall record. They start fresh with first-year coach Willy Woltering.
“I think we will be kind of scrappy,” Woltering said. “We don’t have many kids. But we have some decent seniors coming back.”
The Vikings return a pair of junior tight ends in Wyatt Griner and Ian Neibergs. Woltering also gets back sophomore Mason Bates, who plays center and nose guard.
Bates will play alongside linemen Mitch Jamison and Gabe Cocking. They will block for returning quarterback Hunter Woltering and running backs Cole Sanderson and Tyler Thurman.
“Colton will be scrappy like us,” Woltering said. “They will be small and throw the ball all over the place.”
Senior laden Eagles
St. John-Endicott has seven seniors returning on a team that went 1-6 in league and 3-7 overall.
“I’d like to think we are looking pretty good,” coach Steve Selk said. “Last year we finished with three wins, which is three more than we had the year before.”
Practice will determine the positions but junior Weston Whinery will start the season as quarterback. The Eagles get a new running back in senior transfer Jimmy Hollingshead.
They join Jordan Morris, Skylar Smith, Rowdy Brown, Cole Crider, Dakota Gering and Wilson Lundberg, who will all be playing for positions.
“We finished the season strong,” Selk said. “We are heavy on the experience end of it. I’m hoping that translates into having a good season.”
|1. Touchet||5. St. John-End.|
|2. Liberty Chr.||6. Pomeroy|
|3. Colton||7. Sunnyside Chr.|
|4. Garfield-Pal.||8. LaC.-Wash./Kah.|