LA CONNER — New La Conner High School football coach Jeff Scoma will get a chance Monday to work out his players in larger groups.
The Braves, like other high school football teams in Skagit County, have been given the go-ahead to increase the number of athletes participating in workouts from pods of five to pods of 11.
It's all new for the 55-year-old Scoma, who arrives at La Conner after spending the previous six seasons coaching youth football in Bellevue and at perennial state power Bellevue High School.
"I've coached at all levels," Scoma said. "Most recently, I was the freshman/junior varsity coach at Bellevue High and I was an assistant on the varsity staff."
La Conner Athletic Director Kathy Herrera said the school is pleased to have Scoma leading its football program.
"We are excited about his enthusiasm," she said. "He is doing a great job when it comes to building relationships with the kids and the community."
Scoma said taking the La Conner position was about seizing an opportunity to be a head coach.
"It's a great community, a great history during a time of winning championships and being successful," he said. "That was something I wanted to be a part of. Fortunately, I got the opportunity."
Scoma lives in Bellevue, works in Bothell and will commute to La Conner.
Scoma has been busy installing his wing-T offense and multiple-front defense.
"We are going to bring the wing-T philosophy that I grew up with at Bellevue to La Conner," he said. "We have some twists and some things that make it unique and different.
"Generally, we will be a power football team. Again, it's what I learned from all the different coaches in the Bellevue system over the years. Hopefully, we can have a sliver of their success and bring it here."
Scoma said the big thing at the high school level is blocking and tackling, so he will focus on fundamentals — being in the right position — and understanding assignment football.
"Really, the big thing right now is just getting kids out," Scoma said. "They need to get out and get into a positive environment. And plus, whether it's you, me, or the kids, we're out of shape after sitting out for over 200 days without a lot of activity. So it's going to be exciting to get out there not only mentally, but physically in groups of 11."
Numbers have been an issue recently for the Braves. Scoma has been working the phones, emails and texts in an attempt to get those numbers up.
"Our goal is to get 10 kids out per class," he said. "So you are kind of building for the future as well. At that point, we'd be at 40 which is a number we haven't seen in a long, long time. It really looks like we are going to be at about 35-40 this year, which will be one of the biggest turnouts in a long time."