Following its long, winding, and uphill road last fall, the Onalaska football team is hoping its next wave of Loggers get a slightly more predictable road this year.
Not that “predictable” means anything close to “easy” when you’re in the Central 2B League.
“It’s gonna be tough,” head coach Mazen Saade said. “We’ve got to put some things together and see where we shake out in the league.”
Between tough scheduling, cancellations, and last-minute re-schedules, the Loggers got to stake their claim as possibly the best six-loss team in Washington history in 2021, with three of those defeats coming against 2B championship game teams, two coming to top-10 1A schools, and one against an Oregon 3A power. At the outset this year, there’s only one cross-classification matchup on the docket — a Sept. 23 showdown with Tenino — to go along with an always-loaded C2BL slate, and the ever-present cross-divisional showdown with Napavine.
Taking this challenge on with be a whole lot of new faces, after the Loggers graduated nearly all of their ball carriers and most of their line.
Up front, Onalaska will turn to Rylan McGraw to lead the way, with Parker Haskins and Tommy Hornsby III also slotting into key spots and the usual wave of hard-nosed underclassmen behind them chomping at the bit to hit someone.
“It’s a mindset,” Saade said of his group’s penchant for reloading on the line. “Our kids get pretty excited about it. We don’t do a lot of zone blocking here. We’re not like the typical team that’s going to zone block you, kick step, and pass-drop. We’re going to come at you and try to block you.”
Behind that front will be one junior returner and a whole lot of sophomores. Kayden Mozingo is back to take the snaps and make the reads a quarterback, quickly going from the least-experienced face in the backfield to the stout veteran of the group.
He’ll be facilitating a stable of backs that Saade hopes to move around as needed, with Case McGraw starting at fullback and Rodrigo Rodriguez, Blaze Underhill, and Cooper Lawrence set to get the pitches.
“We’ve got to grow up in a hurry,” Saade said. “All of us, we’ve got to mature every single day, and that doesn’t matter if we’re playing with a bunch of seniors or a bunch of freshmen or a bunch of sophomores or a bunch of juniors.”