MOUNT VERNON — How will the Mount Vernon football team follow up a historic season?
The answer isn’t known yet, but it’s up to a number of new players to help figure it out.
After an exciting state playoff run in 2018, the Bulldogs enter the 2019 campaign with the chance for new players to shine.
They lost a number of mainstays to graduation, including running back Seth Tercero, the Skagit Valley Herald’s Offensive Player of the Year, and Landon Edwards, the newspaper’s Defensive Player of the Year.
“We have very few returners with a lot of experience,” Bulldogs coach Nic Vasilchek said during a recent practice.
While this year there will definitely be a new-look Bulldogs team, Vasilchek said he’s confident the younger players stepping in will be ready to work hard and will be competitive. He noted last year’s junior varsity team was 6-3 and the freshman squad was 7-2.
“I thought that was a good sign,” he said.
The team isn’t completely lacking in returners.
On offense, the Bulldogs bring back dangerous wide receiver Carlos Garcia (sr., 6-10, 180). Garcia led Skagit County last season with 718 receiving yards and was second to Sedro-Woolley’s Brent VanderVeen in catches with 39.
Vasilchek said Garcia will get plenty of chances to show off his skill in a Bulldogs offense that will probably feature more passing with the graduation of a workhorse such as Tercero.
“We’ve expanded the scheme to move guys around and move Carlos around. We probably won’t run 50 times a game,” he said.
With the graduation of quarterback Reilly Olmsted, Skyler Jensen (sr., 6-0, 200) will step into the starting role. Vasilcheck said Jensen, also a standout on the baseball diamond for the Bulldogs, is ready.
“He’s been waiting two years to play, and he probably would have played for a lot of teams,” he said.
“We’re very excited about stepping into new roles,” Jensen said.
Jensen will have an array of weapons, too.
In addition to Garcia, Ethan Lewis (sr., 5-11, 175) returns at wide receiver, a corps that will also includes senior Dylan Carter (sr., 6-2, 150) and Anacortes’ Oscar Ocosta (sr., 5-8, 155).
Several Anacortes students are playing for Mount Vernon after their school suspended its varsity football program because of low turnout.
Anacortes’ Trevor Beaner (sr., 6-1, 185), who ran for 584 yards last season for the Seahawks, will play running back, as will Miguel Castro (jr., 5-10, 180). Vasilchek said Cads Pineda (jr., 5-7, 165), a promising junior, will play on offense too.
The offensive line will include returners Ian Gear (sr., 6-1, 260) and Arik Bibiano (sr., 6-1, 255) as well as juniors Trevor Johnson (6-3, 260) and Rylan Rodriguez (5-11, 260) and senior Garrett Wattawa (6-0, 295), a transfer from Arizona.
On defense, Garcia moves from cornerback to safety, where he’ll patrol the middle of the field.
Other key players include Pineda and Carter at cornerback and Castro and Vic Martinez (jr., 5-10, 210) at linebacker. Martinez will move to that spot from nose tackle.
Lewis said the attendance at offseason workouts bodes well.
“We got a big turnout. A lot of the new guys came and we got guys up to speed,” he said.