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Evergreen football preview: Plainsmen bring a fresh start and high expectations

New coach and quarterback have Evergreen excited

By Meg Wochnick, Columbian staff writer
Published: September 3, 2019, 5:02pm

Jaylen Fite and Zyell Griffin have plenty to be excited about, even well before Evergreen plays its first game of 2019.

For starters, the duo believe there’s a new identity of sorts behind new faces: from a new coaching staff to a turnout of first-time high school football players.

That has Fite and Griffin, two returning receivers and defensive backs, feeling it’s the start of something brewing.

“Evergreen, in general,” Griffin said, “is going to be a lot better as a team.”

High school sports fall tab 2019

This article is part of The Columbian's High School Fall Sports 2019 special section, published in print on Sept. 1. View it online.

And by team, added Fite, means playing better together as a unit.

“We play as one,” the junior said. “Instead of for ourselves, we play for each other.”

It starts, they believe, with what the new coaching staff brings to the program.

It’s led by first-year coach Christian Swain, who spent the previous three seasons coaching 2A Columbia River to three straight playoff appearances.

Swain said Evergreen reminds him when he coached at Oregon 5A Roosevelt, turning around a winless program into a league champion and eventual state playoff team.

Fite and Griffin noted Swain and his staff’s commitment not only to current players, but to new ones. The in-school recruitment of senior Carter Monda to play quarterback is especially noteworthy. Monda last played football as an eighth grader, and Swain said he couldn’t take the chance not to convince Monda, a basketball and baseball standout, to give high school football a shot.

Fite and Griffin are impressed how quickly Monda is adapting.

“He’s getting better every day,” Fite said.

Evergreen last reached the postseason in 2016, via a league tiebreaker. Fite and Griffin were in the program, and are eager for that postseason taste again.

“Everyone wants to be good,” Griffin said, “and everyone wants the team to be good.”

3 things to know

— Evergreen is coach Christian Swain’s third head-coaching gig (Columbia River, Roosevelt)

— Senior Zyell Griffin is a two-time all-3A GSHL player.

— The Plainsmen last winning season came in 2008.