Loggers are strong but Pacific Coast League is also tough

WISHKAH —The 2011 edition of Wishkah’s football team went 7-3, scored more than 45 points on five occasions and still failed to qualify for the state Class 1B playoffs.

The Loggers figure to be at least as formidable this season, but again face rugged competition at the top of the Pacific Coast Football League.

Wishkah’s scheduled season opener with Highland Christian was canceled when the Arlington school pulled out of Friday’s scheduled contest at Aberdeen’s Stewart Field. Unless they find a replacement foe that night, the Loggers are ticketed to debut with a non-leaguer at Taholah on Sept. 7.

Returning several starters from a year ago, the Loggers finished second among 18 Class 1B schools at the Whitworth football camp this summer.

“I think we’re going to be really competitive,” Wishkah coach Brad Taylor Sr. said. “We’ve got pretty good speed (in the backfield) and we’ve got a good-sized line. I don’t have a lot of concerns.”

Taylor concedes, however, that there will be a dogfight for the league’s playoff berths, with Taholah, Lyle and Mary M. Knight all highly regarded.

Reigning league champion King’s Way Christian moved up to the 1A classification, but will continue to face most PCFL members as a 1B independent that is ineligible for postseason competition.

The Loggers boast a good corps of running backs in seniors Ethen Arnold and Luke Stevens and speedy junior tailback Bo Barber. Arnold will also see action at wide receiver.

Junior Keigan Gardiner, who split quarterbacking duties last year with the since-graduated Jake Rasler before being sidelined with a broken ankle, returns to call the signals.

“He sees the field pretty well,” Taylor noted.

Wishkah will operate from multiple sets, with Taylor expecting a decent balance between run and pass.

The Loggers have above-average size up front, with 218-pound senior Austin Barber, 218-pound junior Trey Berge, 202-pound sophomore Jacob Gardiner and 280-pound senior Zack Anderson expected to compete for offensive line berths. Chris Thein, a junior turning out for football for the first time, will also see action in the trenches.

Junior Dillon Mitchell and sophomores Robert Rodriguez and Brady Anderson are among the receivers.

Jace Anderson, a sophomore, will back up Keigan Gardiner at quarterback and is expected to play in the defensive secondary as well. The Quintero brothers, Dakota and Gabe, will also see playing time.

Stevens, an all-state linebacker last year, leads Wishkah’s defense.

“He’s a very quick and aggressive young man,” Taylor commented.

For the second straight season, the Loggers will play their home games at Aberdeen’s Stewart Field while maintenance is being completed at Addison Field.

Most of this year’s contests at Stewart Field, however, will be under the lights on Fridays and Saturdays. Addison Field is expected to be ready for play next fall.

The father-son duo of Lee and Ryan Onasch will assist Taylor this season.