One thing’s for certain: It’ll be an interesting year in East Lewis County.
Morton and White Pass high schools have decided to combine for football. Due to the WIAA’s last enrollment count, this puts the new Morton-White Pass squad in the 1A classification (a new count, for the 2010-2011 school year, will be finished by November, and is expected to be much lower).
As it is, the team — with orange and green helmets, White Pass white jerseys for away games and Morton green for home — will play home games on Morton’s field, while the White Pass facilities are under construction.
As a combination team, Morton-White Pass is independent of any league, but will play White Pass’ regular Central 2B League schedule. Through an agreement with the SWW 1A League, if MWP wins 70 percent of its games — including early matchups with 1A foes Toledo and Onalaska — the new, mascot-less club is eligible for a pigtail game to get into the 1A playoffs.
Outside of the distractions and implications of the combination, however, awaits good, old-fashioned football.
The players spent a few days together at camp in Morton last week and, according to coach Ken Cheeseman (White Pass’ head coach for the last 12 years) are getting along well.
“We seem to have meshed really well in positions, overall,” he said. “There’s not a spot on offense or defense that there’s two star athletes, one from each school, trying to fight for it.”
The offense will look a lot different with the graduation of quarterback Derek Moody.
“Derek was a once-in-a-lifetime quarterback, and we had an offense that was built for him,” Cheeseman said of the 6-6 Moody. “We’ll still be doing some passing, but it won’t be the no-huddle, quick-pace airing-it-out type of offense that we had last year.”
Junior Cameron Sume will likely step into the quarterback spot, while sophomore Kyle Kelly will back him up and carry the ball in the backfield. Kody Crowder, a sophomore, and freshman Spencer Seymer are two more potential ball carriers that have the coach excited.
“He got a lot of work for Morton last year, if I’m not mistaken,” Cheeseman said of Crowder. “He was one of their primary running backs, and he’s got a lot of potential.”
The initial plan will be to run the ball about 80 percent of the time and make the most of those carriers, he added.
Devin Sume, Guy Emerson (juniors) and Cole Walton (a senior) — all of whom got plenty of starts last year — will anchor both sides of the line.
“Defensively, because of the numbers, we’re able to use a lot more kids,” Cheeseman said. “I think we have a lot more strength than Morton or White Pass had by itself last year, and more kids to fill those spots.”
The combination has had one immediate effect: there are a total of 42 kids out for football, more than Cheeseman has seen in almost 20 years of coaching in White Pass and Morton.
“We’re truly seeing the difference in numbers, that’s for sure,” Cheeseman said. “I think it’s an advantage in the light of more competition and more reserves.”
Coach: Ken Cheeseman (13th)
Morton: 2-8 (1-7, 7th in league)
WP: 1-9, (1-7, 7th in league)
Sept. 4 Toledo
Sept. 11 Napavine
Sept. 18 Onalaska
Sept. 25 at Toutle Lake
Oct. 2 Adna
Oct. 9 at Mossyrock
Oct. 16 Bye
Oct. 23 Wahkiakum
Oct. 30 Vanc. Christian
Nov. 5 at Pe Ell
all games 7 p.m. — all games nonleage