Even by eight-man football standards, Taholah has been involved in some free-scoring affairs over the past few years.
The Chitwhins reached the 100-point mark once and allowed 70 points twice last season alone. Such shootouts are likely to continue this year.
In an effort to improve on last year’s 3-4 overall record, in fact, first-year head coach Billy James said his primary emphasis is to increase his club’s already formidable offensive production.
“If we can put up 80 points (on the scoreboard) and give up 60, I think we’ll be all right,” James said. “We’ll be trying to put up a lot of points and give up a little less.”
Taholah, which opens the season next Saturday at home against Evergreen Lutheran has two things in its favor.
After scrambling to find opponents in their first year as a Class 1B independent (they played only five widely separated regular-season games), the Chitwhins have cobbled together a representative seven-game slate this season.
They also return a pair of proven playmakers in versatile senior quarterback Keanu Curleybear and speedy senior running back Jon Jackson. Along with sophomore running back Mike Underwood, they provide the Chitwhins with considerable big-play potential.
“We’ll try to create one-on-one matchups with Keanu and Jon and Mikey,” said James, who has promoted to head coach after seven years as a Taholah assistant.
James’ biggest concern is increasing a relatively thin roster. He hopes to eventually field a 16-man squad once all players become eligible.
Taholah’s schedule is also challenging. The Chitwhins will face reigning state champion Neah Bay, perennial state power Lummi and erstwhile 2B playoff contender Naselle — all on the road.
James foresees a relatively balanced attack.
Seniors Robert Harrison and Robert “Bubba” Needham and sophomore Terrance Jones will likely split time at the receiver positions. Sophomore Tynell Bryan and senior Pedro Sanchez will the probable starters at guard, with senior Oshumus Hall opening at center.
Curleybear and Jackson also figure to be among Taholah’s defensive standouts, at end and linebacker, respectively.
Other probable defensive starters include Jones, Bryan and Sanchez up front and Harrison and Underwood at linebacker . Junior Dusty Capoeman will be one starter in the secondary, with sophomore Tom Anderson also figuring into the equation.
Citing his seniors for strong leadership, James likes what he sees so far.
“I’m very optimistic,” he said.