It’s been awhile – a very long while – since high school athletes lined up for honest-to-goodness competition. But the drought has come to an end.
With every region of the state now in Phase 2 of the “Healthy Washington” plan, it’s time for players, parents, coaches and fans to gear up for a season that will be like no other.
Football games begin this weekend – locally, White River takes the field Friday night and Enumclaw kicks off Saturday afternoon – and other Season 1 sports will get rolling early next week.
Here’s how thinks look for the Plateau’s two football teams as they head into this unusual, abbreviated, six-game season.
Mark Gunderson and his troops will visit Steilacoom High Saturday, kicking off at 2 p.m. The Sentinels last took the field when they played for the 2019 state championship, placing second.
EHS is coming off a campaign in which they went 7-3, were one victory shy of making the playoffs, but wrapped things up with an exciting Week 10 victory.
In a preseason email, Gunderson wrote, “I am VERY excited for this group of kids.” There’s plenty of reason for optimism, as the Hornets feature returning starters on both sides of the ball. The list of returnees includes seniors Kaden Loop, Ryder Popke and Drew Kuzaro, plus junior Dylan Watterson; all received honorable mention on last year’s all-league team.
In all, the Hornets count eight returning starters on offense, including quarterback Cameron Brauer, and eight on defense.
This year’s squad begins with a home-field advantage, hosting the first two games of the shortened season. White River will entertain the Fife Trojans Friday night and welcome Steilacoom on March 5.
Coach Ken Pirone leads a squad that finished 3-6 in the fall of 2019. Back from that team are senior Jay Selander, the reigning SPSL 2A defensive lineman of the year, and leading rusher Payne Plaster, a junior. Other key returnees include seniors Solomon Webber and Aiden Cummings, plus junior Ryan Stapleton; all received mention on last season’s all-league team.