By David Pan Weekly Herald sports editor
LYNNWOOD — It’s been a smooth transition for the Lynnwood football team.
New head coach Adam Fermstad has spent this month getting to know his players a little better during the team’s annual spring practices.
Fermstad took over from former coach Mike Don, who accepted a teaching and coaching position at Brewster High School. Fermstad was an assistant under Don for one year before being named head coach last month.
“It was real important, especially to get the continuity of the program going and to get them really geared up for the fall,” Fermstad said of the monthlong practices at the high school. “Going into spring the biggest goal was to get the offense and defense ready for the new system. It’s mostly the same … We wanted them to be really familiar with the staff and the new system.”
The changes he is implementing aren’t major, but there are differences in terms of the vocabulary the coaching staff uses, Fermstad added.
“He’s a players’ coach,” senior lineman Nathan Fabia said of Fermstad. “He really knows how to connect with the players. He knows what we’ve been through. He can reach us on a personal level.”
Fabia noted that the offensive and defensive systems are pretty much staying the same.
“The foundation is set and the team is just going to build off of that,” Fabia said.
Teammate Corey Newman likes that the program has stability despite the departure of Don and the promotion of Fermstad.
“We’re keeping it all the same so no one is getting confused,” Newman said. “All the coaches are working together as well, helping him out. … Everyone is feeling confident.”
The biggest change likely will be seen on offense with a renewed emphasis on establishing a run game.
“We’re deviating a little bit from our past pass-heavy offense,” Fermstad said. “In my opinion we threw the ball a little too much. … In a perfect world, I’d like to go 50/50. It was really important to get the players familiar with the new way the offense is run. It is not a pass-heavy offense.”
The graduation of two-year starting quarterback Blake Lord means the offense will have a new signal-caller in the fall. Fermstad has yet to settle on a starter.
“We told the guys it’s wide open,” Fermstad said. “Let’s see who comes out and competes and who’s going to fight for that starting spot.”
Fabia likes what he’s seen of the three players vying for the starting quarterback position.
“Each of them is doing tremendous and each of them has made great steps and progress,” Fabia said. “When it comes down to it, the best player will play.”
The rest of the offense also is pretty much wide open in terms of the skill positions, even though there are plenty of returners. Players, such as wide receivers David Nguyen, Hunter Lord, Andrew Katzenberger, Jordan Drew and Newman all saw significant playing time in 2011.
“The plan is to get a lot of guys reps at the varsity level,” Fermstad said.
Senior lineman Andrew Basham is still recovering from knee surgery but Fermstad expects him to be ready in the fall. The first-team, all-league standout is drawing attention from a number of Division I schools.
“I’m looking for him to be a leader on offense and defense,” Fermstad said. “We want him to bring the rest of the team up to that next level.”
The upcoming season marks the return of Lynnwood to the 4A classification.
“We’re excited for the new competition,” Fabia said. “We can’t wait to hit some new guys and see some of the other teams out there.”
Newman also hopes that Lynnwood will head into the season with a new mindset.
“We want to stop being the underdog all the time,” Newman said.