Before new Centralia football coach Dustin McGee made the cross country trek from Tennessee back to the Pacific Northwest, he did everything he could to hit the ground running.
It’s been quite awhile since the Tigers have competed with the likes of the Tumwaters and W.F. Wests of the 2A Evergreen Conference. Centralia has had just two winning seasons since 2012, and has lost the Swamp Cup to its rival Bearcats 13 seasons in a row.
So the first step in coming to rebuild a program is getting the Tigers to believe that they can beat anyone on their schedule.
“I just want the kids to believe in themselves,” McGee said. “It’s been a long time since Centralia’s been on the map athletically. We have a whole new regime in the high school, it’s exciting.
“We’re trying to instill belief in these guys, there’s a lot of talent in our high school. It’s just guys believing in who they are and who we are as coaches and trying to do things right from day one, and being consistent year-in and year-out.”
And while it might be unreasonable to expect a huge leap in the first year of McGee’s run as the Tigers coach, the Hub City squad is bringing back a good chunk of experience.
Landen Jenkins will return at quarterback, and Gabe Seymour and Mikey Hoyt earned praise from their new coach for how they’ve approached the summer and fall camp so far.
McGee also credited the offensive line for taking on the challenge in the weight room during the offseason.
In a top-heavy EvCo that features favorites Tumwater and W.F. West nipping at the T-Birds’ heels, the Tigers are hoping to put together a good start to the season before league play begins.
“It’ll be exciting for us to see that and get to know all the teams in our league,” McGee said. “Everything I’ve heard about this league is that it's really competitive. We’re looking forward to it.”