Entering its second season in the Greater St. Helens 2A League, Aberdeen is encouraged and enthusiastic for the upcoming season.
Loaded with a veteran offensive and defensive line, the Bobcats return a roster stocked full of experience and confidence under second-year head coach Terry Dion.
“We have the potential to be pretty good,” Dion said. “We had a good spring, we did well against Montesano and Hoquiam in the passing leagues and we’ve seen a lot of improvement throughout the roster.”
On Friday, Aberdeen (3-6 overall) will host reigning state 1A champion Montesano at Stewart Field.
Aberdeen fielded a Wing-T offense last season, using its offensive line as the catalyst to move the ball down the field. Senior quarterback Veek Cheema will run the offense again, but will have some opportunities to throw the ball to keep defenses honest.
Linemen Chase Johnson, Kaleb Levao, Rayce Otterstetter, Jordon Logan and Cory Mays are set up on offense, with tight end/split end Lorenzo Ontiveros available as one of Cheema’s main aerial targets.
Sophomore Joel Dublanko, who will see plenty of time at linebacker on defense, will be in several spots in the offensive backfield. Deon Schlesser, Carter Harris, Austin Floch and Drew Stocker are all penciled in at slot/wing backs and at wide receivers.
“That’s the difference (between last year and this year),” Dion said. “You can’t point at one player. We have a lot of good players who have a chance to do good things for us. We are going to run some of the same stuff as last year, but we’ll be setting up to throw more. We want teams to pick their poison and we hope to exploit that — attack laterally and vertically.
“There is a different feel here, a more unified group,” Dion added. “The kids have been in the same system for two years in a row and have absorbed the offense and defense. There is confidence with that.”
Defensively, depth on the defensive line and in the linebacker corps will be a negative for the Bobcats.
Mays, Dublanko and Ontiveros will anchor the linebackers, Levao is the threat at defensive end next to nose tackle Johnson and first-team all-league safety Floch will have Harris at cornerback to help out.
On special teams, junior Andres Valdez, the starting goalkeeper for the Bobcats’ boys soccer team, will take over the kicking duties. The punter is a position still under consideration, but Floch and Stocker are both set up as kick/punt returners.
As for the Greater St. Helens 2A League, Dion sees defending champion Mark Morris, R.A. Long and Hockinson as teams to beat. However, the early season schedule is set up to give Aberdeen plenty of challenges.
Starting with Montesano, the Bobcats will take on Black Hills and Centralia as well as rival Hoquiam before entering league play.
“Those games would be a good indication, but we’re just taking them as preseason — four games,” Dion said. “Then, we have five league games. Our focus will be on what is ahead of us at the time, no farther. I see a lot of good things for Aberdeen football this season.”
Assisting Dion this season will be Scott Rice (RB/LB/Def. Co), Shon Schreiber (RB/LBs), Joe Fagerstedt(JV head coach), Corey Martinsen (WR/DB), Rich Van Volkinberg (quality control) and Jeremy Walker (JV/WR/DB).