Head coach Adam Mathieson got a gut-check during summer team camp at Southern Oregon University when, for the first time in a couple seasons, he taught more than refined.
When you replace 32 seniors, and 21 of whom started on Mountain View’s 3A state semifinalist team, that’s bound to happen.
“It hit us,” the coach said. “When you have that many kids that have played (varsity) football. You’re not teaching as much as you’re doing.
“It’s exciting to get back to teaching.”
But going back to the drawing board doesn’t mean a bare cupboard for a program that’s won the past three 3A Greater St. Helens League titles, and four consecutive league titles at 3A program dating back to 2013. Last season’s senior-heavy team lifted the Thunder to their first state semifinal berth since 2002, and expectations don’t dip simply because of graduation.
“We’re embracing it,” tight end Dominic Stephens said. “Younger faces are stepping up, and wanting to play and are doing well. It’s part of the Mountain View culture.”
Stephens and his teammates are familiar with the rich culture that comes with suiting up for a program that’s gone undefeated in its reign as the 3A GSHL champion. And players like senior Alec Cann are embracing a new role. If recent history is any indication, Cann is slated to be the starting quarterback. He expected to be the third backfield player to go under center the past four seasons, joining eventual league MVPs Andre Scheer (2016), and Glen Perry (’17) who’ve made that transition.
Cann is up to the challenge, much like his teammates in new roles.
“Once our young guys get some experience under their belt,” Cann said, “and feel the environment and game speed, there’s no doubt in my mind it’ll click and things will start rolling.”
3 things to know
— The Thunder’s state semifinal appearance last season was its first since ’02.
— Mountain View hasn’t lost a league game since 2015.
— The team replaces 32 seniors, including 21 starters.