Fort Vancouver preview: Taking a big step up

Sophomore quarterback Suell set to lead Trappers

By Paul Valencia, Columbian high school sports reporter


photoJordan Suell, Fort Vancouver quarterback

(/The Columbian)

Fort Vancouver Trappers

Coach: Eric Ollikainen.

2011 record: 0-9, 0-6 3A GSHL.

Key players: Jordan Suell, so., qb; Jaquan Thomas, sr., rb/lb; Gaquan White, sr., wr/dl; Taylor VanHeck, sr., wr/db; Jaylen Ross, sr., rb/db; Tomas Acevedo, jr., te/lb; Saul Santacrus, sr., ol/dl; Manuel Posas, sr., ol/dl; Isaac Rodriguez, sr., ol/lb; William Brown, jr., ol/dl; Lisa Spangler, jr., lb.

Season outlook: The numbers are up and the attitude is positive this season at Fort Vancouver. Those two things should be a big boost as the Trappers try to get their program headed in a positive direction after a winless 2011.

“We’re hungry for a win,” Ollikainen said. “We’re going to be looking for a win in Week 1. If it doesn’t happen in Week 1, we’re going to keep hunting. If things go right, we’re going to surprise some teams this year. The pressure’s off. No one expects us to do anything this year. We’re just going to play the game.”


Aug. 31 at Evergreen

Sept. 7 Hockinson

Sept. 14 at Washougal

Sept. 21 R.A. Long

Sept. 28 at Col. River*

Oct. 5 at Mtn. View*

Oct. 12 Kelso*

Oct. 19 Prairie*

Oct. 26 at Hud. Bay*

  • — 3A GSHL game

Home games played at Kiggins Bowl

Coming Tuesday: Mountain View

An assistant coach found Jordan Suell in class last year at Fort Vancouver High School and gave him the news.

A freshman at the time, the coach told Suell to start getting prepared. His role with the football program was about to become a lot bigger, and a lot sooner than Suell initially anticipated.

"I was kind of all-around excited, but a little worried, too," Suell acknowledged.

It was a few months after he completed his first season of high school football as the quarterback of the freshmen team. He did not play a minute of varsity.

Now, Jordan Suell, a 6-foot, 2-inch, 160-pound sophomore, is the starting quarterback, trying to turn around the Trappers.

"With the guys we have right now, with our linemen and receivers, within a couple years, we could win some games and maybe make the playoffs," Suell said.

Not that he is counting out this year. He just knows that after an 0-9 season, it will take time for the Trappers to be in any postseason discussion. That really is not the goal for now, anyway.

"We just want to get together, win a couple games this year," he said. "You don't have to win every game but at least you have to try every game."

Then, after a slight pause, and with a big smile: "It would be good to win, though."

Fort Vancouver coach Eric Ollikainen said Suell has the potential to play in college one day.

"He's accurate. He has a strong arm. He's a very talented quarterback," Ollikainen said. "If he has a strong sophomore season, he'll start getting attention. The sky's the limit for him."

Of course, skills can only take a person so far. As a sophomore in the prime leadership position on a football team, Suell had to make sure his teammates understood he was worthy of the spot.

"I think I earned their respect just by working out hard every day, coming to practice every day, showing them I'm committed," he said.

Without playing a game yet, Suell said he can already tell there is a huge difference between freshmen ball and varsity.

"It's more intense and fast paced," he said of practice. "It's quick. I have to make decisions faster."

Suell has been a quick learner, too. That also means learning to forget about the bad decisions. A quarterback of any age cannot dwell on the negative outcomes. He said the older players have been instrumental in his development.

"They tell me to keep my head up and don't get down. If something bad happens, go on to the next play," Suell said.

Words to live by, certainly. Of course, a quarterback must use his vocal skills, too. Suell is soft-spoken, at least when he is taking a break in practice, but he says he will be able to demand attention when the need arises.

"I can raise my voice, tell them to listen up so we can go to the next play," Suell said. "I'll take control of the huddle."

That is one of the keys to success for a quarterback, one that really is not seen by fans. Coaches see it, though. And it goes into their decision-making process when determining the depth chart.

"He does have the poise," Ollikainen said. "The kids around here look up to him. He already was a leader even before he got the position. It's an easy fit for him. The guys know he's the man."

If all goes to plan, that man behind center will be there for the Trappers for a few years, earning some respect for Fort Vancouver football.