Bonney Lake High football just survived a grueling week of spring practice last week, with long days early on, finishing with camp at The Evergreen State College over the weekend.
And by the end of it, the Panthers are battered and bruised, yet ready to take their game to the next level come August.
“(At first) I didn’t see how important these practices were,” wide receiver/defensive back Jordan Cozzi said. “We all realize how important it is to prepare for the season now.”
Bonney Lake had a busy week with the early mornings filled with the Panthers’ youth football camp, followed by a real practice in the afternoon. These long days can wear on a player who’s just getting set for summer break.
But that’s the point Bonney Lake coach Jason Silbaugh wanted to convey to his players before they headed off to Evergreen. He wanted them to understand that when August practice arrives, there’s not going to be a let up.
“The biggest thing is we talked a lot all year was how you want (your season) to go,” Silbaugh said. “Especially for the seniors, this is their team now. If they show the effort in all these spring practices, then all the kids behind you will see that.”
If Bonney Lake wants to be successful, Silbaugh added, then the seniors can’t do it alone. They’ll need everyone on the team working toward a singular goal: to get better.
“It’s pretty normal, really. Coaches just wanted to give us (practices) before we go out and scrimmage against team — it’s to get better,” quarterback Dane Wagner said. “We’re always doing something to get better … I like to get better every chance I get.”
When it comes to Bonney Lake’s 2-6 record last season — good for seventh place, just ahead of last-place Auburn Riverside — the Class 3A South Puget Sound League is no joke when it comes to football.
Last season league champion, Peninsula, is a top-ten team, with Sumner and Auburn Mountainview not that far behind, both tough teams who look to have reloaded in the off-season.
And then there’s the Auburn program — which produced NFL first-round pick Danny Shelton — and the historically dominant Lakes program added to the mix. The 3A SPSL is an uphill battle for Bonney Lake.
But it’s a battle the Panthers will gladly fight.
“Really, this last offseason … I just saw how much offseason work I needed to put in,” Cody Miller said. “I think that it’s coaches to players — Silbaugh has a leadership class that leads all through the offseason, and just kind of preaches the mentality we need to have.”
It’s a mentality of not allowing perceptions of the outside world weigh down Bonney Lake football.
“We talk a lot about that legacy when we build up,” Silbaugh said. “We want to make the senior’s year the best year possible — it doesn’t matter which class. We want the juniors to start thinking that next year is their last year … it’s about getting the players to buy into putting in their all, every time.”