The pep band, cheerleaders and fans will be able to return in-person to football games this season.


The Anacortes High School football program continues to grow.

After seeing declining numbers and a very young team that would have to face much larger, more experienced players in games, the school did not field a varsity team in 2019. Then, the COVID-19 pandemic hit and changed around schedules several times, meaning the 2020 football team played outside in the snow instead of its usual fall dates.

Now, the program is back in its traditional timeframe and has seen a lot of growth, coach Justin Portz said in an email. This year, there is a varsity, junior varsity and C team.

This year, things will look a bit more normal in other ways, too, such as having a band, cheerleaders and fans in the stands.

“Friday Night Lights is so much more than just a football game,” Portz wrote. “It’s an opportunity for the whole community to come together and enjoy the total experience. We promise to provide an entertaining brand of football and I have been working with our cheer coach and band director to do everything we can to make Friday Night Lights in Anacortes something that everyone in this awesome community will support, be excited about and not want to miss out on. I can’t wait to see the stands full of purple again.”

COVID-19 regulations and schedule changes are still very much a part of the season this year, and Portz said his team is ready to take on any opponent it can, when it can. That may mean taking on bigger schools, which can be a challenge, but Portz said it’s really about the team getting out and playing the game.

Because the program played in the spring last year, the kids took a short break and then came back for a summer program that led right into this season.

“It does feel a little bit like football never really stopped, but I’m OK with that,” Portz said in his email.

Team captains this year are Jake Schuh, who led all of Skagit Valley in rushing yards and scoring as a junior last year, and Lucca Dumas, who Portz called the “backbone” of the offensive and defensive line units for the past three years.

Other returners are Tony Rios, Noah Hunter, Jon Nessett, Garrett Bickley, Adriaan Castro , Hayden John, Max Olson, Carson Portz and Rex Larson.

Coach Portz talked about each of them in his email, detailing what makes each player an asset and what their time on the Seahawks team has looked like so far.

Junior Landon Frost gave up football for a few years to focus on basketball, but he’s back on the football team this year, according to Portz.

There is some healthy competition between the athletes as they work to earn their positions on the field.

“We even have some extremely talented underclassmen that are currently pushing to make the field on Friday nights and it’s been a lot of fun watching them learn and compete at a high level,” Portz wrote.

The program will keep growing, Portz said.

“I encourage the community and students to come out and support all of these awesome student-athletes who have worked hard all off-season to get stronger and faster to help play a sport they love at a competitive level,” he wrote. “If you are a parent who has a child interested in playing football but are nervous about the stigma of it being a dangerous sport, please come out and watch a practice, come down and meet myself and the rest of the staff or talk to a parent of one of our current players.

“I promise you will see that the game is safer now than it has ever been. … Go Hawks!”

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