By David Pan Weekly Herald sports editor
BOTHELL — The Lynnwood football team is ready to make some noise in a new league under a new head coach.
A roster with plenty of returning starters and players with varsity experience has first-year coach Adam Fermstad feeling confident as the Royals started practices last week.
“I think more than anything they’re eager,” Fermstad said of the mood of his players. “They know the steps they’ve taken and the strides they’ve taken to get to the level we’re at right now. They’re real excited to get the season under way.”
Lynnwood is coming off a 3-7 season, which might not seem all that impressive – until you realize that the school hasn’t won that many games in more than decade.
Leading the way for the Royals is first-team, all-league offensive and defensive lineman Andrew Basham, who has verbally committed to play for the University of Washington.
Basham is impressed with the talent level of the returning players and even more important with how the players are coming into the season.
“They’re willing to work and put in their time to get their position,” Basham said. “Everyone knows they have to earn their spot.”
Behind former quarterback Blake Lord, Lynnwood went to the air often last season. Fermstad plans to run a more balanced offense.
“I want to have opponents have to game plan us evenly for the run and pass and not assume we’re an 80 percent pass team,” Fermstad said. “We have the personnel. We can have a really strong running game.”
Expect to see senior Jordan Drew and junior David Vo among the main stalwarts in the backfield.
“They’re seasoned varsity guys,” Fermstad said. “We’re looking for them to step it up.”
Lynnwood is just as experienced with its wide receiver corps in junior David Nguyen, sophomore Andrew Katzenberger, senior Corey Newman and junior Hunter Lord.
“We definitely have a pretty deep receiving corps,” Fermstad said.
What the Royals do not have – and may not have until days before the opening game against Shorecrest on Aug. 31 – is a firm grasp on who is starting at quarterback.
Three Royals are battling for the position, including two sophomores and a fifth-year senior who may not be eligible to play, depending on an appeal filed with the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association.
“It’s a tight race,” Fermstad said. “We’ve got all three of the guys who are vying for that spot. It’s real exciting to watch. The accomplishments of one help bring the other guys up. The competitiveness between the three of them kind of brings the edge up, which is great.”
The decision on the appeal might not be known until the days before the start of the season.
“It might be a game-time decision,” Fermstad said.
Initially, Fermstad wasn’t sure the potential impact of starting a sophomore at quarterback might have on his plans for the offense. It turns out there won’t be any.
Sophomores Bobby Graham and Justin Cachopo both have shown a lot of strength and maturity in their arm strength and in their decision making during the offseason and in the team’s spring practices, Fermstad said.
“I feel comfortable with them throwing the ball at the varsity level,” he added.
Lynnwood started with a 4-3 defense last year and switched to a 3-4 later in the season. Fermstad will continue with the 3-4. What he especially likes about his defensive players is their aggressiveness.
“They want to hit somebody,” Fermstad said. “They can get pretty crazy, which is what we’re looking for.”
The Royals have experience on the line, at linebacker and in the secondary.
“We feel we’ll be able to stop the run and the pass evenly,” Fermstad said.
Lynnwood certainly has taken its fair share of hard knocks in the past, but the players appear ready to leave all of those disappointments in the past. They are starting to believe in themselves.
“There’s no longer that doubt in the mind that they’ve had in the past,” Fermstad said. “They’re definitely eager and ready to get the season under way.”