CARDINALS: Cline Spurns Basketball Offers at a Chance to Start at QB as a True Freshman
WINLOCK — Bryce Cline’s signing table set up in front of the giant red ‘W’ near the Winlock High School football field didn’t have a basketball on it — like most would have guessed. Instead, it had a red and yellow football helmet and his No. 4 football jersey.
Cline, the most decorated boys basketball player in the county this year, spurned a bevy of basketball scholarships to sign with Lewis-Clark Valley Loggers football at a signing day event Tuesday afternoon.
“It was a toss-up between basketball and football,” Cline said. “Primarily I wanted to get out of Washington state. Not go too far but not stay too close, so that was a really good fit for me.”
Cline will actually be attending Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, Idaho as a student, but will be playing football for the Lewis-Clark Valley Loggers football team. The Loggers football team is not associated with Lewis-Clark State College, which does not have a football program of its own. However, the football team is comprised mostly of Lewis-Clark State College students. Did you get all that?
The team was formed in 2013 because the state Idaho did not have a Division-II or Division-III football team at the time. The team can field any players who are not affiliated with a Division-I program in the state of Idaho.
It was an unexpected decision by Cline, and also a closely-guarded secret. Cline sent out a cryptic Tweet on July 16 saying a commitment was coming soon. Only Cline’s family, Winlock football coach Ernie Samples and Winlock athletic director and boys basketball coach Nick Bamer knew where he was heading.
“Kept it in a little circle,” Cline said.
Cline, who garnered nearly every basketball award available this season, led the county in scoring, averaging 22 points, seven rebounds, six assists and four steals a game for a Cardinals team that saw their best season in recent memory. The Cards finished 17-7, second in the Central 2B League and one game shy of a state berth. It led him to garner an Associated Press First-Team All-State selection; the C2BL MVP award; a WIBCA First-Team All-State spot; The Chronicle’s All-Area MVP and The Daily News’ All-Area MVP.
An assortment of basketball programs, from Minnesota to California, showed interest in signing him, but Cline had an offer he couldn’t pass up.
The Loggers football team is currently in rebuild mode after going winless at 0-8 during the 2019 season. But the real draw for Cline was that the Loggers are losing all their quarterbacks from last season, which gives him a shot at earning the starting job as a true freshman.
“They said they were looking for quarterbacks and don’t have a lot of kids, so freshmen will get to play right off the bat,” Cline said. “And they lost all their quarterbacks, so I was really interested in playing college football.
Cline was a second-team all-Central 2B League selection for Winlock this season, throwing for 1,067 yards and 12 touchdowns and running for another 771 with 13 rushing TDs. He also had seven interceptions on defense.
Cline was first contacted by the Loggers about mid-basketball season this winter and gave them his verbal commitment a couple weeks ago. He’s also planning to walk-on the Lewis-Clark State College’s highly-successful basketball program, as well. The Warriors are coming off their best season in school history, going 29-3, in a year that was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Warriors were national-champion contenders and coach Austin Johnson was the NABC Coach of the Year.
“I figured I could just walk-on and hopefully get a spot on the basketball team,” Cline said.
The backup plan for the 6-foot Cline if he doesn’t earn a roster spot on the basketball team is to walk-on to the track team. Cline placed fourth at the 2B state track tournament in the high jump with a leap of 6-feet even.
But Cline is just focused and excited to help rebuild the Loggers program, a team that initially began in 1946 and was eventually disbanded in 1950. After a return in 2013, the Loggers hosted their first home game in over 70 years in 2018.
The Loggers currently run a spread offense, 60 percent and 40 percent run. It’s a bit different from what Cline is used to running at Winlock, which is a run-pass option scheme where Cline ran around and made plays like Russell Wilson.
“We ran read-option stuff but the Loggers are more of a passing team, which I’m OK with,” Cline said. “I’m a mobile quarterback and don’t like to sit in the pocket a lot. But I can adjust to it. Whatever they need me to do.”