WISHKAH — Aside from a return to Addison Field, not much will be familiar about Wishkah football this season.
The Loggers have a new head coach in Mike Mitchell, who is revising the team’s offensive and defensive schemes. Their veteran starting quarterback is shifting positions.
Another change that the Loggers hope will be in the offing will be an extended season.
Despite a combined record of 13-6 (6-3 last year), Wishkah failed to advance to the state 1B playoffs either of the past two seasons.
While the dissolution of the Coastal League last year left area 8-man teams as independents and in something of a state of flux in terms in terms of playoff eligibility, the Loggers are regarded as one of the top Southwest Washington 1B clubs this season.
They possess size and experience, plus considerable big-play potential.
“I think we’ll do well,” said the 41-year-old Mitchell, an experienced youth football coach in his first high school assignment. “We have a lot to work on, but we’ve got a lot of speed and a lot of brains. We’ve got a good group of smart kids.”
Wishkah opens its season Sept. 7 at home against Clallam Bay.
The most notable change will be in the backfield.
Keigan Gardiner, a stalwart at quarterback for the past couple of seasons, is converting to running back this season. The senior, a breakaway threat even from the quarterback spot last fall, later captured both hurdles titles at the state 1B track meet last May.
“It makes sense to us,” Mitchell said. “You’ve got one of the fastest kids in the state, why would you want him handing the ball off to somebody else?”
Junior Jace Anderson will take over the quarterback duties, with senior Bo Barber returning at fullback.
Trey Berge, a 6-foot-2, 230-pound senior, anchors the offensive line. He’ll team at guard with senior Gabe Quintero, while junior Jacob Gardiner will likely start at center. The Loggers will frequently operate from a double-tight end formation, with seniors Chris Thein and Dillon Mitchell manning those positions.
Coach Mitchell has enthusiastically embraced the concept of multiple formations. While wary of providing particulars, he said the Loggers will utilize as many as five offensive sets — ranging from the T formation to the spread.
Most of the Logger offensive starters will also be counted on for defensive duty, with junior Robert Clutts-Rodriguez also ticketed for action at outside linebacker.
Defense would seem to be Wishkah’s primary concern. The Loggers allowed 180 points in their three losses last season.
Coach Mitchell is optimistic that the club should improve in that area, however, citing strong defensive performances in the camps and tournaments the Loggers participated in this summer.
After two years of playing at Aberdeen’s Stewart Field while maintenance was undertaken on its home turf, Wishkah will return to its own Addison Field for Saturday afternoon home games this season.
Eric Gardiner and Bob Anderson will assist Mitchell.