Change. It’s what defines high school football. Fresh faces rotate in and take the place of last year’s heroes, building on traditions and leaving new memories.
This season it seems to be everywhere on the football fields around Snohomish County. From head coaches to realignment, the 2012 season has a completely different look and promises to be a wild ride.
The Herald visited a number of practices on the first day of football practice on Wednesday. Here’s three that help illustrate the many changes going on around Wesco and Cascade Conference.
Camp spotlight: Archbishop Murphy
It’s not very often that a team coming off consecutive appearances in the state championship game finds itself with a new coach in August.
Yet that’s exactly what’s happening at Archbishop Murphy High School. After a tumultuous offseason that saw a head coach and longtime assistant coach say goodbye and a new coach arrive on the scene, the Wildcats are finally back where they want to be most: the football field.
“I love getting back here,” senior lineman Dakota Creed said.
“I’m real excited to be out here,” echoed Ryan Kouchakji, Creed’s friend, teammate fellow lineman.
It’s been three years since Murphy’s new coach Bill Marsh, 40, last presided at Eastside Catholic. He said the opportunity to take over a program as storied as the Wildcats was just too good to pass up.
“The work ethic here and the passion from the community is unreal,” Marsh said. “To me it’s just an honor (to be here).”
Marsh, who was hired after an exhaustive search to replace Dave Ward, said he hopes to “uphold the tradition of winning” at Murphy, but has his own coaching philosophy he’s trying to instill in his athletes.
“Respect the past, play in the now, plan for the future,” Marsh said.
His message seems to be resonating with the Wildcats.
“It’s very different,” senior Steven Kane said. “It’s a lot more upbeat.”
Marsh hopes he doesn’t have to go through the inauguration process again in his career.
“This is where I want to be the rest of my career,” Marsh said. “This is my last stop if all goes well.”
— David Krueger, Herald writer
Camp spotlight: Stanwood
Doug Trainor likes rebuilding football teams.
In 2005, he took over a fledgling Bellingham team and helped them record a winning record his first season and got the Red Raiders to fifth in state by his third year.
He’s got a new project in Stanwood.
The first-year Spartans head coach inherits a team that went 2-8 last season and only got victories against a winless Cascade team and first-year program Marysville Getchell. For Trainor, who coached under former Stanwood head coach Tom Boehme in the early 90s, turning around the Spartans is personal.
“It’s a point of pride with me,” Trainor said of the Stanwood job. “You know you spend eight years and you leave it in good shape and you need to get it back to respectability.
“Stanwood football used to be a big deal here and we need to get it back to that,” Trainor added.
The first thing Trainor instilled in his new team is a don’t-look-back attitude.
“We don’t talk about last year; that was the past,” Stanwood WR Jake Campbell said at Wednesday’s first practice.
Campbell is part of a large senior class, which includes twin brothers Kyle and Brian O’Donnell and running back Kyle Strachan. That class has bought into Trainor’s new culture around camp, including a more strict sense of discipline.
“We really needed (discipline),” Kyle O’Donnell said. “Last year, we had people with off-the-field issues and this year you do one thing and you’re off the team.”
Trainor said he’s been impressed with the seniors and said he couldn’t have expected any more from the group since he took the job in March.
“As soon as I took over we started doing some evening weight room times and we had 35-40 guys showing up after their sports and that was huge,” Trainor said. “I knew right there they we had a committed group. They’re just hungry to win.”
— Aaron Swaney, Herald writer
Camp spotlight: Lynnwood
The Royals have a new coach this season, but that might not be the biggest change they will experience in the upcoming season.
Their move from 3A to 4A is a doozy.
Surprisingly it’s something that doesn’t seem to phase the players or first-year coach Adam Fermstad.
“Honestly, 4A, it doesn’t bother me at all,” Lynnwood senior wide receiver and cornerback Corey Newman said. “Actually 4A to us seems like it is going to be easier because the people in 3A were a little tougher — Meadowdale, Glacier Peak, Oak Harbor — and the squads that we are going to go against are not going to be harder, nor are they going to be easy. But were not scared.”
For a team that finished 3-7 in 2011, you have to admire Newman’s confidence.
Fermstad said one of the keys for the Royals to find success at the 4A level this season is to stay true to themselves.
“With the 4A, I think it’s not to get too intimidated by it,” he said. “A lot of guys, they view 4A as just bigger schools, better competition, and sometimes that’s not necessarily the case. The biggest thing that we need to do is stay true to our roots and not let any of the outside stuff kind of come in. In my mind if we are 2A, 3A or 4A, football is football and if we are the best team that we can be we are going to be a team to shine. And that’s what we can hope to do.”
— Aaron Lommers, Herald writer