By David Krueger Herald Writer
Eds. note: Herald writer David Krueger visited Snohomish training camp on Wednesday morning.
What’s new? Kai Smalley, coach
The Salem, Ore.-native spent the past couple seasons as the head coach in Park City, Utah. Eager to return to the Pacific Northwest, Smalley got the job at Snohomish in part because of the backing of his longtime friend and former colleague Rory Rosenbach, who happens to coach Snohomish’s crosstown rival Glacier Peak. Like Rosenbach has done with the Grizzlies, Smalley is installing a spread offense at Snohomish.
If you aren’t excited for this season’s Snohomish Showdown, you don’t like football.
New Snohomish coach Kai Smalley (and his awesome hat) directs his first Snohomish football practice. pic.twitter.com/6iqucWTS7e
— David Krueger (@Krueger_David) August 21, 2013
Returning all-conference players
First team—Spencer Lipke (Sr., Offensive Line). Second team—Boomer Vuori (Jr.; Defensive Back), Josh Sharpe (Sr., Defensive Line). Honorable mention—Garrett Stich (Sr., Running Back).
Player to watch: Spencer Lipke, Sr., OL
Shortly after Smalley got the Snohomish head coaching job in early March he checked his e-mail while still in Utah and found a correspondence from the Panthers’ center. Lipke, who was first-team all-league last season, wasn’t the only Panther player to get in touch with Smalley to see what he wanted them to do in the offseason, but he was the first.
“He asked what depth he needed to start snapping the shotgun snap,” Smalley said. “From the first day he was working on it.”
Lipke has been a valuable tool for Smalley as he has transitioned the Panther offense to a spread formation.
“He was an all-league center last year and he’s bringing that experience back to our line,” Smalley said. “We put a lot of responsibility on our center in our type of offense ? He’s got a lot of responsibilities that a QB does in the offense. He’s just embraced it and taken it on. He’s a tremendous leader. He’s the kind of kid you want representing your program.”
Fresh face: Peyton Plucker, So., S
At this time last year, Peyton Plucker was a freshman at Snohomish High School at his first football practice ever. He spent the season on the freshman team and, once his new head coach arrived at Snohomish, he showed just what he could do.
“He got noticed right away in spring ball as a sophomore playing safety,” Smalley said. “He just turned heads with how he plays downhill and his patience reading the patterns the offense is running.”
In his second year on the Panthers, Plucker made perhaps the best defensive play in Snohomish’s first practice of the season.
“I think we only had one interception (in our first practice today) and it was him,” Smalley said. “He stepped up and took it all the way back (to the opposite endzone).”
With a new coach and a fired up team, Snohomish looks to improve significantly on last year’s 2-6 season. The Panthers should get twice as many wins this time around. Again, the Snohomish-Glacier Peak rivalry took a fun, exciting new turn with the hiring of Smalley so seriously, Friday the 13th (of September) should be circled on every calendar.