STEVENSON — It’s late afternoon on a Tuesday, and Isaac Hoidal has just finished a self-concocted end-of-practice conditioning routine.
As the last members of the team finished the workout, Hoidal made his way over to the final station on the grass auxiliary field the varsity team is sharing with the youth program.
The final players — the linemen — are on the home stretch, and Hoidal, a senior captain, is there to cheer them to the finish line.
“I don’t think they really like me at first, no one likes conditioning,” Hoidal said with a smile. “I just know these guys can go harder. Seeing one of our big boys, 350-plus pounds, sprint at the end of the workout, that’s a good feeling.”
Hoidal leads a pack of seniors who, according to Stevenson coach Dave Waymire, have risen to the challenge to go the extra mile.
It’s one of the things that makes Hoidal stand out as he attempts to lead Stevenson to newfound heights.
Set aside the fact that perhaps the most dominant player in the 1A Trico League can be found in the cozy city of less than 2,000 located on the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge, some 40 miles east of Vancouver.
For the Stevenson senior, winning league has been a goal since he first arrived on campus.
In his way has been La Center, which has not lost a league game since 2015 and has won seven of the last eight league titles.
The Bulldogs (3-1, 1-0 Trico League) feel this year is a good to play spoiler as any, as they host the Wildcats on Friday. And with Hoidal out wide, they know any play can turn into a touchdown.
“I feel pretty confident in any pass going in his direction,” Waymire said of the 6-foot-3, 210 pound receiver/linebacker. “It doesn’t even have to be an accurate pass.”
In fact, Hoidal, who has 18 catches for 408 yards and five touchdown catches this season, relishes the challenge of bringing in passes at the outer edges of his reach.
He tells quarterback Brandon Connell that when in trouble, throw it his way.
“There are very few people who are taller and can jump higher than me, so I’m pretty confident I can get it,” Hoidal said.
Last week against Seton Catholic he completed a one-handed catch that netted the Bulldogs a first down. There’s something about the one-handed catches that excite Hoidal.
“I’m not going to lie, if I have a chance to make a one-handed catch, and I can’t really make it with two hands, I’m going to go all out,” he said.
Hoidal’s interest in football didn’t start until sixth grade, when he was coaxed by friends to join the team. Up until then, he played soccer.
But in football, his size and speed helped him stand out.
He recalls starting sixth grade games with a “go-route” (or a “Y-go”). Hoidal ran in a straight line, beat the coverage and caught a long ball for touchdown from Connell, who along with many of the current Stevenson varsity players, began playing together at a young age.
“It was an amazing feeling,” Hoidal said. “I didn’t have enough talent to do any move or anything, I’d just run in a straight line.”
The skills came later, but his potential was sought almost immediately.
As a seventh grader, he started at tight end for the eighth-grade team. As a freshman, he caught two touchdowns in his first junior varsity game.
But in his first varsity game, he caught a ball on a post route and, while being dragged down by the defender, broke his ankle. That sidelined Hoidal for the rest of his freshman season.
He returned the next year, and the very same route became one of his go-tos.
Now, as a senior, it’s one he runs often.
“I love the post route, it gets me so many yards,” he said.
As a junior, Hoidal was the league player of the year in basketball. In track and field, he placed third at state in the long jump last spring.
Football, however, is his passion.
He hopes to play in college and has received interest at the Division III level, but the school he’s heard the most from? Oregon State.
Though he hasn’t received an offer, Hoidal has attended two OSU home football games this season on invite from the team.
But it not so much the “where” he’s concerned with.
“I have the mindset that whatever happens, whatever offers I get and who wants me, if it’s a JuCo, community college, I’m going to go,” Hoidal said. “I want to keep on playing.”
But first, the Bulldogs want to make good on their goals this season. That starts with a showdown against La Center Friday.
On Monday, Hoidal and a group of seniors finished a challenging conditioning practice and went straight to the weight room.
“That’s pretty normal for him,” Waymire said. “Doesn’t matter how hard we go.”