Fort Vancouver football preview: Back with Trappers

Injury that forced Brugman to sideline may have been positive

By Paul Valencia, Columbian high school sports reporter

Published:

 
photoFort Vancouver tight end Jacob Brugman.

(/The Columbian)

Fort Vancouver

Coach: Cal Szueber

2013 record: 1-8, 1-4 3A GSHL.

Key players: Jordan Suell, sr., qb/db; Jacob Brugman, sr., te/dl; Will Doty, sr., te/dl; Jacob Mohr, sr., ol/dl; Angel Bonilla, sr., ol/dl; Duncan Crawford, jr., ol/dl; Mitchell Cooper, jr., rb/lb; Cody Loyer-Hiebert, so., rb/lb; D.J. Owens, so., rb/db; Thomas Shields, so., wr/lb.

Season outlook: Fact: This team has won two games the past there seasons. Opinion: This team is a lot better than any of those teams. Prove it: That is what the Trappers expect to do. The new coach is a familiar face. Cal Szueber returns to lead the Trappers. He said he believes this team could surprise a lot of people and give Fort fans a chance to cheer.

2014 SCHEDULE

Sept. 5 at Hudson’s Bay

Sept. 12 at The Dalles, Ore.

Sept. 19 White Salmon

Sept. 26 at Prairie*

Oct. 3 Kelso*

Oct. 10 at Col. River*

Oct. 17 at Ridgefield

Oct. 24 at Washougal

Oct. 31 Woodland

  • — 3A GSHL game

Home games played at Kiggins Bowl

For more on high school football, go to The Columbian's high schools sports blog at:

blogs.columbian.com/high-school-sports

Coming Wednesday: Prairie

Jacob Brugman does not know when he was injured. Maybe the end of basketball season. Maybe the beginning of baseball season.

He just knew, after weeks of trying to play through whatever it was, there was just too much pain for it be a minor injury.

Nothing minor about it, it turned out.

Brugman, a tight end and defensive lineman for the Fort Vancouver Trappers, was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his lower back.

That ended his baseball season. It also ended spring drills for football, and any chance of competing at team camp in July.

His passion for football and his commitment to his team remained.

Even though he could not play, Brugman still paid to attend team camp at Camp Rilea.

"I knew if I wanted to be a big part of the team, I had to go ... just to be with my teammates and bond," Brugman said. "So many of these guys I've been playing with since freshman year. I didn't want to miss out on something like that."

He was there for more than just the fun times besides football. He was on the sideline. He would give pointers to younger teammates during drills. He even tried being the team's videographer.

"He was like an assistant coach for us," Fort Vancouver coach Cal Szueber said.

"I wouldn't say that," Brugman said. "Maybe just a little helper."

Brugman is healthy now, and he will be more than just a little help on the field. He earned second-team all-league status last season at tight end in the Class 3A Greater St. Helens League, and Szueber said Brugman is just as talented on the defensive line.

The injury, in a way, might have made him better, too. As a three-sport athlete, Brugman never took a break. His stress fracture forced him to stop and watch. He said he learned how to think.

"You can be an athlete, but if you can't think or if you don't know how to play the game, it's not going to do you any good," Brugman said. "You have to play smart."

He also noticed something that can get lost on the casual fan.

"The guy who makes the game-ending sack gets the spotlight. The guy who took on the blockers who allowed the other guy to get the sack should get the credit," he said.

All of this has Brugman believing that the injury was a benefit.

"It matured me a lot. It really put me where I need to be for my senior year, sports-wise," he said. "It sucked to be out, but I wouldn't be close to where I am right now."

As the Trappers close in on the season opener, Szueber said he expects Brugman to be a force on offense due to his blocking and ability to catch the ball.

Szueber was more run-oriented when he first coached the Trappers from 2007 to 2010. But in his first season back with the Trappers, he is promising a balanced attack led by third-year starting quarterback Jordan Suell.

"I want to make the playoffs," Brugman said. "I really believe in us. We have the pieces. We're already such a close team, and I want us to become closer. We're already a family, but it can get so much better."

Brugman's only individual goal has nothing to do with his own play. He said he wants Suell to be the all-league quarterback. That would mean he and his teammates were doing their job, allowing Suell to excel.

Sounds like Szueber was right about Jacob Brugman.

He does sound like a coach.