OYEHUT — North Beach experienced a youth movement in 2011 that was the basis for football improvement.
This year, North Beach got younger — and more experienced — to prepare for its second year under head coach Todd Bridge and the Double Wing offense pioneered by assistant coach (and former Hyak head coach) Hugh Wyatt.
“We are so far more advanced than we were last year,” Bridge said. “We played a spring game against Hoquiam’s junior varsity and we looked better in that game than we did against Toutle Lake (in the district crossover playoff game).
“Overall, we are younger than we were last year, amazingly,” he added. “We had six freshmen starting last year and we’re younger this year. We’re more experienced than last year and all of those freshmen last year got a lot of playing time under their belts and are looking really good.”
On Aug. 31, North Beach hosts Toutle Lake in a non-leaguer.
With 26 players on the roster, the vast majority of them underclassmen, the Hyaks are building for the future today, starting on offense.
Sophomore Tyler Turner saw starting time at tight end last year and will move to H-back this year to utilize his speed and pass-catching skills. Sophomore Jordan Chong, the younger brother of junior tight end/nose guard Justin Chong, will take over at the C-back spot and junior Pedro Gonzalez will occupy the B-back spot.
Sophomore quarterback Carson Ketter will get the reins of the offense again, with Coach Bridge touting his knowledge of the system and overall smarts.
Sophomores Cameron Keller (guard/defensive end), Caleb Bridge (guard/defensive line) and Daniel Fruh (tackle/defensive line) will anchor the offensive line in front of Ketter. Sophomore Steven Fry, at 6-foot-5, will be at tight end to utilize his hands and blocking skills.
“We have six to seven kids who had a 4.0 GPA last year,” Bridge said. “That’s a very smart group of young men and we’re all very proud of that. This is the fruits of their labor. They’ve done a great job of working out during the summer and off-season and the commitment level is higher than I’ve ever seen here.”
As for the Pacific League, Coach Bridge noted Raymond, which is North Beach’s main rival at the junior high football level, as one of the teams to beat, along with Willapa Valley and Naselle.
With a quirk in the scheduling, North Beach’s road through league will have to go through all three teams.
“We’re taking on the toughest opponents in the league on the road,” Bridge said. “It seems the cards are stacked against us and that’ll help us build character.”
Assisting Bridge this season is Wyatt, James Vogeler and former North Beach football player Derek Archer. Ric Dykas and Maynard Reed will coach at the junior high level and also assist the varsity.