SEDRO-WOOLLEY — Brandon Rios finally has his chance, and the Sedro-Woolley senior is making every moment of it count.
After a career without much varsity playing time — including a junior year cut short by injuries — Rios has stepped into a large role for the Cubs, who look to improve to 3-0 Friday against Oak Harbor.
On defense, he’s the team’s nose tackle, where he’s often in the middle of the action.
On offense, he occasionally plays tackle.
Sedro-Woolley coach Dave Ward said Rios was impossible to ignore in spring camp.
“He caught our eye in the beginning of spring camp in the summer,” Ward said. “It’s funny ... being a senior sometimes gives players the confidence they lacked before. Brandon came out and decided this was going to be his year. He came out and was more aggressive, more assertive.”
Rios played a different position on defense last year.
He likes being in the scrum at his new position at nose tackle.
“I love it,” he said. “I like how I’m right in front and get most of the action right in front of me. I get to stop plays right where they start.”
Rios said since the Cubs often go up against bigger opponents, he needs to use his surprising speed.
“The players are different than I saw at defensive end. I have the big guys, so my speed is what I really rely on,” he said.
Ward said Rios has been so impressive in the early going the Cubs’ staff has used him on offense, too, where he’s played tackle.
“We’ve had him play tackle and we do a lot of things with our tackles. We’ll have them out on screen plays. It’s nice to see him use his speed ... he has good speed.”
Rios likes that challenge, too.
“I like to help out any way I can,” he said. “It’s fun. It’s fun to learn something new in the time I have left.”
It’s a dramatic change so far from his junior season, which came to an early halt due to a partially torn rotator cuff and a torn labrum, injuries that needed months of physical therapy.
The Cubs have gotten off to a hot start with wins against Meridian and Mount Vernon in their first two weeks. Next up will be another larger opponent with Class 3A Oak Harbor on the schedule.
Rios said the Cubs’ success is because the team is able to put in the hard work to make the most of its talent.
“What we have — we utilize it,” he said.