OYEHUT — A convergence of continuity, experience and leadership has brought North Beach to a place where it hasn’t been for a very long time — a league contender.
The Hyaks return 19 players from their 22-man roster. All of the returners have been with the program since junior high and there are very little surprises in where players will be positioned when the season starts on Sept. 6 at Toutle Lake.
“We’re not young anymore,” North Beach head coach Todd Bridge said. “That was our nemesis for a long time. Last year, we were young and inexperienced. This year, we’re not young and we are a lot more experienced. The expectations are there and we feel them. We feel we can live up to them.”
Noted by Raymond head coach Rob Clements, North Beach’s offensive and defensive line is beefy and filled with experienced players who can move the Double Wing offense like it is second nature.
Juniors Daniel Früh (RT), Caleb Bridge (RG) and Jacob McCabe-Brown (LG) anchor the offensive and defensive lines. Centers Tim Polin and Alex Horn will quarterback the lines, with freshman Seth Bridge (LT) coming on board.
Früh, Caleb and Seth Bridge, Poplin and Horn will rotate through on the defensive lines, while McCabe-Brown will see time as an inside linebacker.
“We’re rather large across the front, with a couple of 290-pounders,” coach Bridge said. “The bulk of the kids showed a ton of dedication to getting in the weight room and getting themselves faster. Some came out for track to get the work in. We’re big, strong and have some speed. We’re faster than we’ve been in a long time. We’re as big as I’ve ever seen since my Montesano days (as an assistant coach). We’re big.”
Behind the line, quarterback Carson Ketter will dictate the offense. With Ketter, Justin Chong (WR) and Pedro Gonzalez (RB), along with Elijah Towery and Jordan Chong (RBs), will be featured for the Hyaks.
The main ingredient in this year’s Hyaks squad is their consistency and continuity. Most of the players have been together since they were in the second grade on various youth teams. With that familiarity, life was easy for Bridge and his coaches when practices started up last week.
“We started our first practice and it felt so smooth, so precise,” Bridge said, “it felt like we never stepped off the field (in 2012). We’ve never had that luxury here. There’s always been turnover in the roster and in the lineup. That’s nice.”
In the Pacific 2B League, coach Bridge sees Raymond as “the monster in the closet” and Willapa Valley as a threat for the title. “Knowing Valley’s coaching staff and (the program’s) history, Valley has always been at the top two in the league,” Bridge added.
One bit of advantage to North Beach’s chances this season came from the schedulemakers — home league games against both Raymond and Willapa Valley in back-to-back weeks (Oct. 4 & 11).
Assisting Bridge this season will be Hugh Wyatt and James Vogler and junior high coaches Maynard Reed and Ric Dycus.