Shorewood’s football players and coaches have established their goal moving forward. They are committed to creating a new era of T-Bird football.
“As a program, we are looking to put Shorewood football on the map,” coach Brandon Torrey said. “The kids created that saying.”
Accountability, effort and faith — a team mantra this fall — are what the Thunderbirds hope will allow them to take a step forward. Torrey and his staff also are hoping an independent schedule will lead to on-field success and program development.
Shorewood won’t play its typical Wesco 3A South schedule this fall. That means no games against Edmonds-Woodway, Everett, Lynnwood, Meadowdale or Snohomish. Those teams have been replaced with Bellingham, fellow 2017 independent scheduler Sehome, Cedarcrest, Sultan and Granite Falls. The T-Birds still will play Shorecrest and Mountlake Terrace and have a date to face TRICO 1A opponent Seton Catholic.
Three years ago Bellingham High School’s football program made a similar move, taking a two-year league hiatus to rebuild a fractured football program. Last season Bellingham rejoined its league and is in a much better place now.
Shorewood is hoping to follow a similar blueprint.
“We looked at Bellingham’s model, and we talked a lot about our program and not wanting to forfeit any games,” Torrey said. “We looked at what the program’s been the last 10 to 15 years and the safety of football and what (the independent schedule) did for Bellingham and decided that was a direction we wanted to go. It was more for safety and for success of the program.”
Unlike Bellingham, though, Shorewood’s main issue hasn’t been player turnout. Last season, Torrey said, 75 student-athletes turned in athletic packets necessary to participate. Rather, the concern stems from players who physically and athletically have perennially been overmatched.
The results have not been great. The Thunderbirds are 7-43 over the past five season, including 1-19 over the past two.
That’s a trend Shorewood is looking to buck by playing teams with comparable skill levels.
“Everyone was working really hard, and we weren’t seeing the progress that we want to see …,” Torrey said. “Playing the league schedule is pretty dangerous for our kids. That was the biggest reason. Kids need hope and belief, and we haven’t had that before. This will help out a lot.”
Ideally, a 2017 independent schedule will be a one-year deal, Torrey said, but the coach added a decision will be made year-to-year. The hope is the program can build enough depth to once again compete with the other Wesco 3A schools.