Ridgefield High School’s football team didn’t make the postseason in 2016, but the Spudders didn’t see it that way.
They view their regular-season finale against playoff-bound Columbia River — a five-point road victory — as their true playoff game. The Spudders closed out the season winning three of their final four games.
What made the win even sweeter? With key starters out, the Spudders made adjustments on the fly and counted on underclassmen to be instant playmakers.
“It showed how much heart we had,” junior Brock Harrison said. “You noticed they’re realizing we can beat a team like that, which was really nice to see.”
That game was a glimpse into what’s ahead for the Spudders, and that future is here. The adjustment period with a first-year coaching staff and a new offense is in the rearview mirror. It’s Year Two under head coach Kim Ulman and his shotgun wing-T offense.
Like Harrison, Ulman is looking forward to the continued progress made in the final month of 2016. Ridgefield averaged 20 points a game in October.
“Hopefully, that happens a little earlier this year,” Ulman said. “I’m interested to see how much improvement we have.”
Time will tell, and a lot of that could depend on the offensive line. Ulman said the line will determine what kind of season the Spudders could have because they’re thin in numbers, size and feature plenty of new faces.
Ulman doesn’t shy away from having a small-statured line — “as long as we get the off the ball and are aggressive,” he said. But the lack of depth is a concern.
“It’s kind of scary right now,” Ulman said.
On the flip side, what isn’t scary is the number of underclassmen with returning experience. There’s plenty, including Harrison who, at 6-foot-3 and 235 pounds, is a returning two-way starter at tight end and linebacker. Junior Dawson Lieurance is one of three returning quarterbacks in the 2A GSHL who started as sophomores.
And the trick to sustaining what they started? Having players step up, Harrison said, “and knowing what it means to grow every day.”
2016 Record: 4-5, 3-3. Fifth in 2A GSHL
Best State Finish: 1995 State Champions
Returning All-League selections in bold
QB Dawson Lieurance 6-2 200 Jr.
RB Hunter Abrams 5-9 205 Soph.
RB Jeremy Martin 5-10 150 Sr.
RB Tucker Roberts 5-11 155 Sr.
WR Carter Pankow 6-0 150 Sr.
TE Brock Harrison 6-3 245 Jr.
OL Cameron Salewski 5-11 170 Sr.
OL Kalvin Staker 6-5 230 Jr.
OL Simon Berkey 5-10 180 Jr.
OL Malaki Kasuta 5-8 220 Soph.
OL Makani Schultz 6-0 245 Jr.
* * *
DL Makani Schultz 6-0 245 Jr.
DL Kalvin Staker 6-5 230 Jr.
DL Malaki Katsuta 5-8 220 Soph.
LB Hunter Abrams 5-9 205 Soph.
LB Mattew Torres 5-11 160 Soph.
LB Brock Harrison 6-3 245 Jr.
LB Andrew Rommell 5-9 190 Sr.
DB Jeremy Martin 5-10 150 Sr.
DB Matthew Gama 6-1 175 Jr.
DB Carter Pankow 6-0 145 Sr.
DB Max Decker 5-10 160 Sr.
Coach: Kim Ulman (second year)
Home games at Ridgefield High School
League games in bold
Sept. 1 at Castle Rock 7 p.m.
Sept. 8 W.F. West 7 p.m.
Sept. 15 at La Center 7 p.m.
Sept. 22 at Hockinson 7 p.m.
Sept. 29 Washougal 7 p.m.
Oct. 6 at Mark Morris 7 p.m.
Oct. 13 at R.A. Long 7 p.m.
Oct. 20 Woodland 7 p.m.
Oct. 27 Columbia River 7 p.m.