Odessa has piqued some interest in the Northeast 1B South league with a few position moves this year that will help fill some spots left vacant by eight starters who graduated last year.
Sophomore Camden Weber will take over for senior Colton Hunt at quarterback; Weber has a strong arm that could provide more opportunities for pass plays on a team that has relied heavily on its speed and running game.
“He’s a better passer. Colton was a really good runner back there, but (Weber) can throw the ball pretty good,” head coach Jeff Nelson said.
Weber has some experience at QB, stepping in for Hunt in the quarterfinals against Almira/Coulee-Hartline and in the first two rounds of the playoffs last season after Hunt suffered a sprained ankle against ACH.
Hunt will move to running back, a position left open by 2017 graduate Sage Elder. He’ll work the field alongside Sage’s younger brother Gavin, a senior this season and one of the top running backs in the state.
“He’s not really big, but he’s fast,” ACH head coach Brandon Walsh said of Gavin.
As for Hunt’s new role, Walsh said he expects the former QB to be even stronger.
“He’s a very good football player,” Walsh said. “He’ll be one of the top running backs in the league, if not the state.”
ACH will lack size and experience on the offensive line this season after losing five starters to graduation last year. Walsh said he will look to senior tight end and wide receiver Payton Nielson, a three-year starter, to provide speed and leadership on offense.
The Warriors will also bring back junior quarterback Maguire Isaak, who will lead the backfield for the second straight season.
“They’re going to be big upfront, compared to us,” Nelson said. “And they’ve got one of the better players in the league. They’re quarterback, he’s a stud.”
The Tigers fell to third place in the league last season, partially because of a young roster. More than half of the starters on both sides of the ball were freshmen last year.
“This year, we’re a lot older, a lot more experienced,” head coach Brian Bailey said.
Entiat will have only two seniors on its 17-man roster this season – wide receiver Roger Mora and offensive lineman Ronnie Parks – but will have no freshmen.
Around the league
Turnout will be the biggest setback for the Willpinit, Yakima Tribal and Pateros. “They’re just so few in numbers … They only have about 10 or 11 kids out right now,” Bailey said of Wellpinit. “That’s where we have the advantage.”
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