Looking to build upon the success of last year’s program, the Enumclaw High Hornets are set to kick off another football season.
The 2022 opener comes Thursday, Sept. 1, and will have the Hornets heading to Peninsula High. The nonleague contest against the Seahawks, members of the Class 3A South Sound Conference, will kick off at 7 p.m.
The game on the Key Peninsula is just one of six EHS contests slated for a Thursday evening. The shift away from a Friday-only schedule is the result of an ongoing shortage of game officials.
It’s an evolution that seemingly doesn’t bother Mark Gunderson, the uber-confident coach of the Hornet program. “We will line up and play any day of the week,” he responded when asked about the preponderance of Thursday games. “We will be ready. We are excited for the challenge.”
Gunderson has plenty of room for optimism, it appears. Players put in a quality summer, he said, and that showed during the team’s appearance at the Central Washington University camp. The squad emerged as camp champions and a handful of Hornets registered Most Valuable Player performances. Zeke Luchi was named the camp’s No. 1 lineman, Gunnar Trachte was honored as the top quarterback, Emmit Otero was the top running back and Bo Dods received the nod as the top defensive back.
The Hornet offense took a notable hit with the graduations of QB Malcolm Harper (first team all-league) and Dylan Watterson (co-MVP of the league).
“We have some dudes ready to step up,” Gunderson said, noting than Trachte pushed Harper for the starting quarterback job all last season. In addition, Otero was a first team, all-league pick at running back. Gunderson also is high on newcomer Louis Chevalier in the backfield.
The Hornets handling the ball should be well protected behind an offensive line that appears dominant. The coach said there’s “no question” the five up front will set the tone, mentioning Luchi, Ryan Fehr (first team all-league), Tyler Merz (honorable mention), Parker Hendrickson and William Harper.
Looking at both sides of the line of scrimmage, Gunderson sees a breakout year for junior Karson Holt who will line up at wide receiver and outside linebacker.