Before it can take a step forward, Neil Lomax knows Fort Vancouver’s football program must take a step back.
No matter how long it takes, Lomax said, the Trappers will stay independent in order to build up a program that’s struggled with numbers and victories.
The decision, spearheaded by Lomax, to forgo a 3A Greater St. Helens League schedule in favor of an independent, non-playoff eligible schedule came in December.
Lomax’s goal is simple: start being competitive against teams of smaller classification, which, like Fort, are struggling. And in turn, a win will come.
“Win a game,” Lomax said, “we have to win a game for this team.”
Fort’s last victory came in 2016, and the program has dropped it last 23 games. So an independent status was a welcoming thought for returning lineman Aydin Scharbrough.
“I liked it,” he said. “I thought that independent would put us against teams we have a better chance against.”
It has. Aside from the annual Peace Pipe game against rival Hudson’s Bay and Senior Day against West Seattle, all of Fort’s opponents are 2A, 1A or 2B.
More than 30 players were cleared for practice the first week. Attracting incoming students who play football is a starting point for Lomax’s building blocks. The program has just four seniors, including returning varsity player Trevor Navara, who sat out last season. Freshman Mason Mongold knows what’s at stake, and choose to play for Fort.
His main reason: to help build the program from the ground up.
“I want to help them win,” he said. “Coming here, I’m going to help someone win and help the team win — not just myself.
“By the time I get out of here, I want to be where we’re not independent and were winning championships.”
3 things to know
— Fort will play an independent schedule beginning this season.
— Program’s last victory came in 2016.
— Trappers have four seniors.