LA CONNER — A team that has been awfully young the past few years may be growing up.
If that’s true, opposing teams may have to keep an eye out for the La Conner Braves.
After several years of relying on especially young players, this year’s squad hopes to benefit from the toughness and experience those years taught them.
“We’ve taken some lumps the last few years, but I’m optimistic about what I’ve seen,” Braves coach Peter Voorhees said. “They’re really starting to own it. It’s a players’ team, not a coaches’ team.”
That attitude comes in part from hard-earned experience. Voorhees notes many players will be in their third year starting — and many of them are only juniors.
“The offensive line has three guys who started as freshmen, and they’re juniors now,” he said. “We have three-year starters at quarterback and halfback.”
Quarterback Bradey Wyles (jr., 5-11, 165) said the difference is noticeable.
“It’s definitely better. People are aware of what they need to work on,” he said.
“The drills run more smoothly,” running back Arjuna Adams (sr., 5-8, 165) said.
The offensive backfield is especially stocked with talent, including Wyles (896 yards, seven touchdown passes in 2018), Luke Marble (nine yards per rush) and Adams (677 yards rushing). Voorhees said Isaiah Adams (jr., 5-8, 140) will likely play a key role, too.
“I’ve seen good stuff from him in the backfield. He had a great summer,” Voorhees said.
Voorhees thinks the offensive line will also be tough and seasoned.
Stalwarts there include Thomas Jewell (jr., 6-1, 260), Demetrius Scott (jr., 6-1, 282), Boyce Charles (jr., 5-11, 190) and Mason Murdock (jr., 5-10, 152).
Many of the same names will hold down positions on defense as well.
Cole Hagen (jr., 5-8, 120) will play an important role at cornerback, and Zeb Joe (jr., 5-8, 140) and Hal Ikebe (jr., 5-9, 140) will step into larger roles at linebacker, where the Braves lost some depth to graduation.
Voorhees said the team is excited about assistant coach Ari Landworth, who will be the defensive coordinator this year.
With the season opener this week, the players say they’re not likely to be surprised.
“We know what to expect now,” Hagen said.