RAYMOND —Luke Abbott is hoping that familiarity will breed continued success within the Raymond High School football program.
A Raymond assistant for the past two seasons, Abbott was promoted to head coach last week. He succeeds Rob Clements, who resigned last month while announcing his intention to seek a college football coaching job.
The 28-year-old Abbott was the defensive coordinator on the Seagulls’ state 2B semifinal team last season. He said his familiarity with the team should make the transition process smoother.
“What’s great about it is that the kids know me,” he said this week. “I think it’s important that we have continuity within the program and the kids know what my expectations are.”
Abbott was a running back and middle linebacker at Chehalis’ W.F. West High School, graduating in 2004. He later played baseball at the community college and college level, concluding his college career at Saint Martin’s University.
After serving as a football assistant at Chehalis and Timberline, he joined the Raymond faculty in 2012. He teaches history and current world problems at Raymond High School.
The Gulls have undergone a stylistic transformation in recent years, switching from a pass-heavy offense under former coach Jess Cavendar to a run-first attack during Clements’ tenure.
Abbott indicated he would likely implement a more balanced approach.
“If you can’t run the ball successfully, you’re not going to win football games,” he said. “Our run game has allowed us to be successful, no doubt about it. As a program (however), we need to work on developing a passing game that teams will respect.”
He also expressed his appreciation to Clements, who guided the Gulls to two consecutive Pacific League championships.
“I had a wonderful time coaching with Mr. Clements,” he said. “I learned a lot from him. He is a great coach and I have complete faith that he will be successful in his future endeavors.”
Although the Gulls will graduate standout running backs Darol Ratsavongsy and Alex Sida, they return quarterback Rayce Newman and most of their line, including all-stater James Hamilton.
Abbott said he is optimistic about the future.
“I know we have a good chuck of the team coming back,” he said. “And I’m excited about some of the young kids coming up.”