The Blazers’ first huddle of the season, of sorts, came far from the football field, but amid plenty of traffic.
The Timberline High football players held a fundraising car wash in June. Spencer Crump, the team’s top offensive player and appointed leader, saw one of the incoming ninth graders messing around.
It happened to be his little brother, Connor.
While others were scrubbing grime off cars, Connor was sending text messages from his cellphone to friends. Spencer approached and asked Connor to hand over the phone.
Instead, Connor tried to give it to a classmate – only to have it intercepted by the senior captain.
“He gave it to his friend with wet pants on,” Spencer said. “I grabbed it before it could be ruined.”
That is how the Crump lineage has been represented at Timberline – from the time oldest brother, Trevor, graduated in 2009, all the way to Connor, who is just entering high school.
“It is definitely the brotherly bond you see in the movies where we didn’t get along,” said Trevor, who works for AT&T in Moscow, Idaho. “I was always the bully.”
The three Crumps were born in Germany, where their father, Phillip, was in the Army. That is where they all got their first taste of football.
When the family moved to Lacey in 2003, all the brothers played for their father in the Black Hills Junior Football League:
• Trevor, regarded as a better basketball player than football performer, was a wide receiver.
• Lightning-quick Spencer plays the position his father did – running back.
• The biggest of the three, Connor prefers defense – and plays middle linebacker.
“They all have that mentality, ‘If I am not working hard, somebody else is,’ ” Timberline coach Nick Mullen said. “They are always trying to make themselves better at what they are doing.”
After rushing for 472 yards and five touchdowns as a sophomore in 2010, Spencer exploded for 1,010 yards and 15 scores as a junior. And he expects even more this season.
“I want 2,000 yards,” he said, “and 25 touchdowns.”
As for Connor, he is slated to start for the ninth grade squad. His goal is make steady progress in his first season.
“Hopefully I can get moved up,” Connor said. “That would feel really good. It would mean I was doing my job.”
But first, he has to listen – then lead.
“At his age, I was just like him. I wanted to just hang out,” Spencer said. “But the older he gets, he needs to learn how to look after himself.”
ON THE THRONE
Two player of year candidates (Spencer Crump, Brandon Wetzel) give Timberline edge in tight race.
In the Spotlight
Formerly an offensive tackle, Shelton’s David Ajamu is a budding star at tight end, and has committed to Oregon State.
Change is Good
Lincoln coach Jon Kitna retired after 15 seasons as an NFL quarterback to take charge of his alma mater.
By the Numbers
Wilson’s Don Clegg (137 wins) is No. 5, and North Thurston’s Rocky Patchin (128) is No. 7 in active all-time area coaching victories.
Timberline (4-6 last year), Lincoln (4-6), North Thurston (9-2), Wilson (2-8), Shelton (2-8), Mount Tahoma (5-5), Foss (1-9)
Mark the Date
Sept. 27: Lincoln at Timberline, South Sound Stadium, 7 p.m.
NARROWS LEAGUE 3A PREVIEW
Coach: Patrick Johnson, first year
2011 record: 1-8, 6th in league.
Offense: Coordinator (set) – Matt Johnson (flexbone). Returning starters – 5. Top players – QB Nick Burton, 6-0, 180, jr.; OL Dowell Freeland, 6-1, 300, sr.; RB Bacaari Kiner, 5-6, 165, jr.; WR Marcellus Potts, 5-11, 160, jr.
Defense: Coordinator (set) – Patrick Johnson (4-3/3-4 multiple). Returning starters – 4. Top players – DL Ryan Cole, 6-2, 220, sr.; DB Alonzo Jones, 5-10, 185, jr.; DB Jeff Lord, 5-10, 145, sr.; DB Malik Smith, 5-9, 175, jr.
Outlook: Patrick Johnson has a blueprint of success – he is a former Lakes High player (2000 graduate) and assistant. Now he is set to lay out his plan. Reclamation projects are nothing new for him, either. He was a defensive coach at one-win Hephzibah High (Ga.) in 2007. Two years later, it developed into a winning program.
Coach: Jon Kitna, first year
2011 record: 4-6, 3rd in league; lost in 3A districts.
Offense: Coordinator (set) – Jon Kitna (multiple). Returning starters – 4. Top players – OL Quinn Bell, 6-6, 210, jr.; OL Eric Cooper, 5-10, 250, sr.; WR Joshua Eckwood, 6-2, 170, sr.; RB Jonathan Hardnett, 5-7, 205, sr.; RB/WR Rayshawn Miller, 5-8, 170, jr.
Defense: Coordinator (set) – Casey Kjos (multiple). Returning starters – 3. Top players – DL Mark Alapati, 6-5, 290, sr.; Jamarae Finnie, 6-4, 265, sr.; DB Dehonta Hayes, 6-0, 165, so.; Tayvon Murray, 5-7, 155, jr.; Peau Seigafo, 6-4, 285, sr.
Outlook: A buzz has been created – and Kitna has the high turnout numbers to show this is a program quickly on the rise. The ex-NFL quarterback knows he has explosive athletes, and will get them in space. Yet, he says the offense will be “fairly basic” – more like the Central Washington attack he ran, and not the sophisticated ones from the NFL.
MOUNT TAHOMA THUNDERBIRDS
Coach: Kevin Hanis, sixth year
2011 record: 5-5, 5th in Narrows 4A.
Offense: Coordinator (set) – Kevin Hanis (spread I-formation). Returning starters – 5. Top players – WR Keyshawn Craig, 6-0, 175, so.; TE Joey Gillies, 6-3, 215, sr.; OL Junior Viiga, 6-0, 275, sr.; OL Schrien Vong, 5-9, 230, sr.; WR Jakob Wilson, 5-7, 155, sr.
Defense: Coordinator (set) – Clarence Wright (5-2). Returning starters – 5. Top players – DL Joey Gillies, 6-3, 215, sr.; LB Zach Holt, 5-10, 220, sr.; DB Robbie Tabios, 5-6, 140, sr.; DL Sampson Williams, 6-3, 215, sr.; DB Jakob Wilson, 5-7, 155, sr.
Outlook: After his team rushed for nearly 2,600 yards, is Hanis ready to shed his pass-happy label? With a very young team – and with five inexperienced quarterbacks – this might be another season of relying on the run. Tabios should head the tailback committee, but the Thunderbirds have a promising group of ninth graders waiting.
NORTH THURSTON RAMS
Coach: Rocky Patchin, 21st year
2011 record: 9-2, 2nd in EvCo; lost in 2A first round.
Offense: Coordinator (set) – Pete Smith (offset I). Returning starters – 6. Top players – RB Brandon Belisario, 5-11, 195, sr.; TE Josh Cahill, 6-3, 205, jr.; OL Ryan Glendenning, 5-11, 210, sr.; RB Ande Grantham, 6-1, 220, sr.; RB Mo Manning, 6-1, 185, sr.
Defense: Coordinator (set) – Pat Dahl (4-4). Returning starters – 6. Top players – DL Ryan Glendenning, 5-11, 210, sr.; DB Tru Hicks, 6-1, 185, sr.; LB Hayden Maliska, 5-11, 195, jr.; DL Alex Rice, 6-6, 315, jr..
Outlook: What a 2011 season for the Rams, who won nine games (most since 2000) and scored nearly 42.0 points per outing. A big part of that attack – quarterback Ben Broeker, the Evergreen Conference MVP – is gone. But Belisario, Manning, Grantham and Maliska give Patchin his deepest group of tailbacks in two decades.
Coach: Matt Hinkle, 19th year
2011 record: 2-8, 7th in Narrows 4A.
Offense: Coordinator (set) – Cary Nagel (multiple). Returning starters – 8. Top players – TE David Ajamu, 6-5, 235, sr.; RB Ralph Kinne, 5-10, 205, sr.; OL Jake Lindley, 6-4, 235, sr.; WR Michael Sobotka, 5-11, 175, jr.; QB Jared Welander, 6-4, 185, sr.; OL Kaleb Wright, 6-4, 285, sr.
Defense: Coordinator (set) – Matt Hinkle (4-3). Returning starters – 6. Top players – DL David Ajamu, 6-5, 235, sr.; DL DeShon Bell, 5-11, 205, sr.; DB Jake Frakes, 6-1, 175, sr.; LB Thomas Gettle, 6-2, 200, sr.; LB Brian Nault, 6-1, 200, so.
Outlook: Something about last year never clicked, and it wasn’t difficult for Hinkle to identify: The Highclimbers and the spread offense do not mesh. So he and Nagel, a former Shelton player, are going back to the program’s roots as a power-running team. That should mean plenty of carries for Kinne, an all-purpose yardage giant.
Coach: Nick Mullen, sixth year
2011 record: 4-6, 2nd in league; lost in 3A districts.
Offense: Coordinators (set) – Jeb Dorn, Anthony Hicks (pistol). Returning starters – 5. Top players – WR Justace Buhl, 6-0, 190, sr.; RB Spencer Crump, 5-10, 200, sr.; OL Dayne Haddon, 6-3, 235, sr.; WR Levi Lambert-Wilson, 6-3, 185, sr.; OL Ethan Metzger, 6-0, 225, sr.
Defense: Coordinator (set) – Nick Mullen (multiple). Returning starters – 6. Top players – DB Mitch Cone, 5-7, 180, sr.; DL Dayne Haddon, 6-3, 235, sr.; DL Cole Stevens, 6-2, 265, jr.; LB Brandon Wetzel, 6-0, 205, sr.; DB Jeff Winstead, 5-6, 185, sr.
Outlook: If running the ball and stout defense is what you like, this is the place to look for it. Crump is the league’s reigning offensive MVP – and should not only have backfield help from Cone and Asan Neil, but from Hicks, a former All-American running back at Pacific Lutheran, as the run-game coordinator. And Wetzel stops everything at middle linebacker.
Coach: Don Clegg, 25th year
2011 record: 2-6, 5th in league.
Offense: Coordinators (set) – Don Clegg, Brian Burdick (multiple). Returning starters – 9. Top players – QB Moses Lewis, 6-0, 190, sr.; OL Matt Newman, 6-1, 230, sr.; RB Devon Phillips, 6-1, 190, sr.; WR James Sivonen, 6-0, 190, sr.; OL Peyton Smith, 6-2, 220, sr.
Defense: Coordinators (set) – John Harkness, Cameron Rogers (multiple). Returning starters – 7. Top players – LB Jake Ferris, 5-11, 210, sr.; DL Brandon Fogg, 6-0, 215, sr.; DB Moses Lewis, 6-0, 190, sr.; LB/DL Connor Patterson, 6-1, 200, sr.; LB James Sivonen, 6-0, 190, sr.; DB Isaiah Simpson, 6-0, 170, jr.
Outlook: It has been a bad run for the city’s top program of the 1990s. The Rams lost eight starters to injury by the middle of last season, and subsequently fell apart. But the Lewis-Phillips backfield tandem is dangerous, and really could be impact big-play threats in the spread. And many of those injured players return, giving Wilson reason for hope.Todd Milles, staff writer