SEDRO-WOOLLEY — Sedro-Woolley football coach Dave Ward hopes a good offseason of preparation will result in a trip to the postseason.

“It’s a good group,” Ward said of his team. “They are extremely coachable and are really excited about this season.”

Like many programs, Sedro-Woolley’s numbers are down. That said, those suiting up are all in.

“We have a good mix of athleticism and intelligence,” Ward said. “They are quick learners and have a good work ethic. We are young, but I feel they are a group that will improve week to week.”

The Cubs have a solid group of returners starting with senior Brent VanderVeen, who is 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds. That’s about an inch taller and 10 pounds heavier than a year ago.

“For us to be successful, we have to stay healthy as a team,” VanderVeen said. “Then it comes down to the basics. We have to play smart and play crisp football the entire game.”

VanderVeen will play wide receiver, quarterback and free safety for the Cubs.

“He’ll see time in the wildcat,” Ward said of VanderVeen. “We want to get him as many touches on the ball as we can. We want to get him into space.”

Fellow senior Ian Valdovinos (6-1, 230) will play on both sides of the ball as well — at linebacker and offensive tackle. Although he doesn’t mince words when it comes to what he likes to play most.

“Defense,” he said with a big smile. “One hundred percent defense. I’m a defensive guy.”

Also returning this season are seniors Dylan Tacker (5-9, 185), Sebastian Hanna (5-11, 210), Jared Snodgrass (5-10, 180), Brandon Rios (6-0, 205) and Peyton Burrell (6-0, 165).

Tacker will see time at running back and linebacker, while Hanna will start on both the offensive and defensive lines. Snodgrass moves to running back and will also play tight end.

“Jared was starting at defensive tackle for us last year,” Ward said.

Rios will play on the defensive front for the Cubs, while Burrell will split out at wide receiver on offense and will be at cornerback on defense.

Senior Camden Dowhaniuk (6-1, 175) is injured, but Ward believes he will return to play receiver as well as defensive back.

Junior Aidan Franklin (6-0, 200) will play tight end and start at linebacker. Ward said he’ll also see time at safety.

At quarterback, junior Kaden Plymale (5-11, 180) will be running the offense.

“He throws a very catchable ball,” Ward said. “He’s shown some real nice touch. He can also take off and run when he’s pressured.”

With a small contingent of juniors, Ward expects his sophomores to mature quickly. In fact, he’s counting on several to make plays.

That includes Gunnar Hoskinson (6-5, 260), who will play along both sides of the line of scrimmage, and Michael Blumley (6-2, 215). At running back, Ashton Hall (5-11, 180), Connor Davis (5-11, 170) and Johnny Vallejo (5-8, 165) will split time.

“That’s a pretty quick group,” Ward said. “They can find the holes and when they do, they run very well.”

Offensively, the Cubs will look for a balanced attack.

Defensively, Sedro-Woolley makes the switch to a 3-3-5. Ward said he’s liked the change instituted by defensive coordinator Johnny Lee, adding it gives the defense more opportunities to blitz.

The Northwest Conference Sky Division will be brutal as usual this season.

“Lynden is reloading,” Ward said. “But they are probably still the favorite. Archbishop Murphy lost a lot of good players, but you never know what they end up with. Lakewood, they return a lot of good players.”

— Reporter Vince Richardson: 360-416-2181, vrichardson@skagitpublishing.com, Twitter: @Sports_SVH, Facebook.com/vincereports.

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