WOODLAND — Nine times last season, the Woodland Beavers ran onto a football field determined to come off of it victors.
All nine times they walked away defeated.
“I felt bad for the players,” Woodland coach Mark Greenleaf said. “It’s not that they didn’t try. It’s not that they weren’t playing to the whistle and playing to the last play.”
What the 2010 Beavers did lack was experienced seniors who were passionate about football, a situation that was compounded when injuries and other circumstances sidelined several key players early in the season.
The result was a winless season for a program with a tradition of playing into the postseason.
But the Beavers did not become numb to the losing.
“Every single loss was heartbreaking for me,” senior linebacker Morgan Kinnear said. “I can’t pick out a single one. They all hurt. That just makes guys want to come out here and play with a chip on their shoulder.”
2A GSHL preview
Coach: Rick Steele
2010: 2-8, 1-3 2A GSHL.
Key players: Bill Schultz-Rathbun, sr., ol-dl; Noah Schultz-Rathbun, jr., ol-lb; Jess Krahn, soph., qb; Torey Dunn, sr., rb-lb; Beau Sparks, sr., wr; Josiah Niemela, sr., rb-lb; Zach McElvaney, sr., rb-lb; Nick Barclay, soph., rb-db; Jacob Reagan, jr., wr-lb; Jacob Doney, sr., c-mlb; Adam Bishop, sr., wr-db; Doug McDonald, sr., wr-db; Austin Gagnon, jr. dl; Nick Lines, soph., dl.
Season outlook: The79 players out for football is the most ever for the Hawks. With a mix of strong senior leadership and exciting younger players, along with improved depth that allows players to play one way, Hockinson hopes to contend in the 2A GSHL.
Sept. 2 La Center
Sept. 9 Prairie
Sept. 17 at Tacoma Baptist
Sept. 23 Columbia River
Sept. 30 Lakeside
Oct. 7 Mark Morris
Oct. 14 at R.A. Long
Oct. 21 at Woodland
Oct. 28 Washougal
Home games played at Nautilus Field, Hockinson HS
Coach: Bob Jacobs
2010: 5-4, 2-2 2A GSHL.
Key players: Sam O’Hara, sr., rb-ss; Colton Sullivan, sr., qb; Austin Tofell, jr., rb-lb; Caleb Howard, sr., rb-lb; Stephen Camden, jr., rb-lb; Zack Bolland, sr., te-de; Nathan Adams, jr., te-de; Jerett Gregory, sr., og-lb; Tyler Purkeypyle, sr., og-dl; Anthony Valdez, jr., ctr-dl; Christian Edmondson, soph., ot-dl; Dylan Ritchey, sr. ot-dl.
Season outlook: The Panthers return most of their starters from 2010. With improved depth and a better understanding of the schemes in coach Bob Jacobs’ second season, Washougal expects to contend for a playoff spot — and (if they improve in fourth quarters) maybe push for a league title.
Sept. 2 Hudson’s Bay
Sept. 9 White Salmon
Sept. 16 at Fort Vancouver
Sept. 23 Clatskanie
Sept. 30 R.A. Long
Oct. 7 at Crook County
Oct. 14 Woodland
Oct. 21 at Mark Morris
Oct. 28 at Hockinson
Home games played at Fishback Stadium
Coach: Mark Greenleaf
2010: 0-9, 0-4 2A GSHL.
Key players: Adam Shoup, sr., qb; Nick Fuller, sr., wr-db; Morgan Kinnear, sr., te-lb; Zach Lacey, jr., ol-dl; Zach Falk, sr., lb-rb; Logan Piper, soph., wr; Hunter Huddleston, soph., s-qb; Cy Whitmire, jr., rb-lb; Braden Koering, jr., ol-dl; Kyle Hendrix, soph., te-lb; Tenner Bradshaw, jr., dt-ot; Zach Wardle, soph., ol-dl; Codie Stewart, sr., ol-dl; Tabor Creagon, sr., ol-dl; Erik Birnel, jr., de-te; Eli Whitmire, fr., rb-db.
Season outlook: There is nowhere to go but up for the Beavers. Better depth on the roster, including a dozen seniors, and a an improved focus on preparation have Woodland expecting to be in the hunt for a playoff spot.
Sept. 2 at Kalama
Sept. 9 at Ridgefield
Sept. 16 Battle Ground
Sept. 23 at Scio
Sept. 30 at Mark Morris
Oct. 7 R.A. Long
Oct. 14 at Washougal
Oct. 21 Hockinson
Oct. 28 Black Hills
Home games played at Woodland Stadium
Mark Morris Monarchs
Key players: Ryan Littlefield, jr., te-lb; Brandon Rauth, sr., og-dt; Nikko Asbell, sr., rb-db; Jacob Hamlik, sr., rb-lb; Seth Pedersen, sr., qb; Jayson Gibb, sr., te-de; Shane Kelly, jr., ol-dl; Bobby Lamantia, sr., ol-dl.
Season outlook: The Monarchs might be younger than in recent seasons, but they have been the 2A GSHL power. The Monarchs, a state semifinalist in 2010, are led by a third-year quarterback in Pedersen, plus and Asbell, an all-league running back.
R.A. Long Lumberjacks
Key players: Jacob Yordy, so., rb-lb; Evan Earnest, sr., dt-ol; Josh Arquette, sr., ol-dl; Mitch Moe, so., ol-lb; Ryan Peerboom, so., qb.
Season outlook: Yordy just might be the fastest player in the league. It is a talented, but young group.
There’s no question that the 2011 Beavers are motivated by the memory of 2010.
“Everybody’s working a lot harder this year because of what happened last year,” senior wide receiver Nick Fuller said. “Nobody wants to go through that again.”
Among many positives, Greenleaf said he likes the depth and potential of his offensive line, the leadership and technical play of senior quarterback Adam Shoup, and the play-making ability of Fuller.
Perhaps most important is having seniors in key positions. Last season the Beavers had only five seniors who saw consistent playing time.
In the final game, a 56-7 loss to Black Hills of Lacey, Woodland had five freshmen starting on offense, and three sophomores in prominent roles.
One of those sophomores was lineman Zach Lacey.
“The day after last season ended I went to the weight room,” Lacey said. “I just wanted to get to work.”
This summer, there were 20 to 30 players for most of the weightlifting sessions, held three days each week, and for the twice-a-week agility workouts.
“We weren’t laughing. We weren’t throwing weights around or anything,” Kinnear said. “We’re here to win.”
The leaders for this Woodland team say they learned how much commitment it takes to play winning football.
“Last year you’d come out here and you couldn’t even tell it was a football team,” quarterback Shoup said. “It was just dead.”
The leaders of the 2011 Woodland Beavers believe they are on the right path, that the disappointment from 2010 will serve to strengthen resolve when the team faces challenges this season. And, yes, they very much have something to prove.
“The fans, they’re down on us right now,” Lacey said. “But they’ll get behind us. We’re ready.”