Woodland enters 2019 as one of the least experienced teams in the 2A Greater St. Helens League after graduating most of its starters from last season. But new coach Garrett Lutgen is going to make sure the Beavers are the most conditioned team in the region.
Priding themselves on the physical nature of football, the Beavers enjoyed a productive summer on the gridiron. Despite the demands of the first-year varsity head coach, the young players have bought in to the philosophy.
“Most of us had Lutgen as a middle-school coach,” senior Isaac Hall said. “He worked us really hard and we saw the results. It’d be a lot different if he was brand new, but we have that experience that this actually works.”
It’s still a stiff climb to repeat last year’s second-place league finish and postseason appearance. Gone is do-it-all athlete Tyler Flanagan, who put up record numbers as the team’s quarterback last season. He’s replaced by his cousin, Isaiah, under center. Thus far, Lutgen hasn’t seen Isaiah Flanagan feel any pressure following two illustrious quarterbacks in Tyler Flanagan and Wyatt Harsh. Lutgen doesn’t foresee any pressure coming Isaiah Flanagan’s way, either. The lead-by-example senior is as humble as they come, and has a supporting cast to lean on.
That begins up front with junior lineman Jason Bowman, who stands 6-foot-4, 220 pounds at left tackle. In the backfield, Ian Short is expected to take on a larger role at running back and Brooks Massey makes the move to fullback. Hunter Smith, too, will factor into the new “Ohio State spread” offense.
“Obviously Tyler and Wyatt did great, but it’s just a different skillset,” Bowman said of his new QB. “As long as he’s protected, I think he can do whatever he wants.”
Defensively, Massey and Isaac Hall should help anchor the squad. The Beavers feel overlooked, and aren’t counting out another playoff run just yet.
“Nobody expects much from Woodland,” Hall said. “A lot of people know the senior class we had was really talented. So it makes sense to me why we’d be overlooked.
“But we believe we’re working harder than everybody else in the league.”
3 things to know
— The Beavers’ JV program went 7-2 last season under Garrett Lutgen.
— Woodland graduated 21 players from last year’s varsity roster.
— Several Beavers take dance lessons with instructor Andria Terry to improve their flexibility.