Cardinals simplifying going into new season


He might not be Mike Leach with his famous index card call sheet, but Winlock coach Ernie Samples is paring things down significantly.

“We’re baby-stepping it,” he said, after the Cardinals’ jamboree last Saturday. “Step back and scratch more plays off the play card. It’s going to be way more simple.”

Simplicity is going to be necessary, at least early on, for a Winlock team replacing just about all of its pieces from last season — and doing so nearly entirely with underclassmen.

But as plenty of teams have proven over the years, simple playbooks executed well will outperform complicated schemes executed poorly just about every time.

Key to it all will be freshman Landen Cline, who will be charged with operating a scaled-back offense. The new quarterback did all of his damage at the jamboree with his legs, proving to be a handful to wrap up in the backfield and a threat once he gets into space.

In the backfield, he’ll be joined by fellow sophomores James Cusson and Carter Svenson, all of whom will have to learn on the fly as new starters.

If the jamboree is to be believed as a sign of what’s to come, the Cardinals’ simplified attack will skew heavily to the run, leaning on those three to make things happen behind a line with extra blockers brought in closer to the ball.

“We’ve adjusted a little bit,” Samples said. “Kind of the same stuff, but we’re looking at it from different formations.”

Winlock is set to open its season with non-league home games against Darrington and Concrete, before getting into league play against Chief Leschi on Sept. 15.

By then, Samples said he hopes the new faces will really be settled into their roles and ready to pick up speed, with all to play for in the 1B South League.

“I’m not overlooking Darrington or Concrete because they’re going to be tough,” he said. “But hopefully that’s a good aiming point.”