Expectations for Strong Season Higher Than Ever in Stone City


It’s not often you lose an All-Area MVP, Division I recruit, all-everything player, and expect to be even better the following year. 

Gone are the years yearning for relevance in Tenino. The Beavers, despite needing to fill the massive void left by Takari Hickle, expect big things from a group returning 18 starters. 

“We expect a lot of our team, we expect to do good things,” senior Dylan Spicer said. “Losing a great player isn’t going to hold us back, we’re going to do the same thing we did last year and continue to dominate.”

After Hickle announced before last season that the Beavers weren’t afraid of the Montesano’s or Eatonville’s anymore — and proceeded to rush for over 2,000 yards and help the Beavs dispatch the Bulldogs and lose their only regular season game to the Cruisers — that mindset has only grown in Tenino. 

No longer are the Beavers intimidated, now the expectation is to win and to make a deeper run at state than last season’s quarterfinal experience.

“We’ve got a lot of guys that have played football, period,” Beavers coach Cary Nagel said. “Them having that opportunity to go that far in the playoffs last year was beneficial for practices and all that. It was huge for them and they’re hungry for more.”

Spicer is back after rushing for over 1,000 yards last year, and will earn the lion-share of carries for the Beavers this year in the backfield. Kysen Knox is swapping over from quarterback to fullback and will earn some touches in the backfield, and Cody Strawn, after some bad injury luck, will give the Beavs an outside run threat at quarterback. 

Randall Marti will return to help anchor the Beaver defense at linebacker, and slot into the backfield as one of the best athletes on the field. Tenino also returns a good chunk of experience in the trenches. 

All of that experience will help them in perhaps the toughest 1A league in the state. 

“Our league is a gauntlet,” Nagel said. “The coaches in our league do a fantastic job of getting their guys ready to play. It adds to the value and the product that our league puts on the field. But the boys know, they’ve been playing Monte and Elma since they were kids. They understand the task that's ahead of them, they’ve put their best foot forward in the weight room this summer.”