The Emerald Ridge High football team is in a bit of a rebuilding mode one year removed from winning the South Puget Sound League South Division title.
That team that led the Jaguars to their first trip to the playoffs featured a high-powered offense that often seemed to have its way with opponents. But that offense juggernaut was also senior-laden.
It has been a bit of an overhaul as Emerald Ridge has a new face at nearly every position on offense. Is this a team that can repeat as SPSL South champions?
“Yeah, I think we can. We’ll at least be competitive each game and give it our all,” new quarterback Logan Skoda said. “I see a lot of points we can put up.”
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Despite the turnover on offense, the Jaguars’ chance at a league title looks promising due to the fact the offense might be more explosive than last year — especially at the wide receiver position.
“We have a lot of threats, even on our second string offense,” Skoda added. “Everyone in there can run fast and catch the ball. I feel really good with everyone we have.”
With good size with 6-foot-3 junior Andrew Boston and Chase McGuire on the outside, and with speed and playmaking ability in Dustin Resnik on the inside, the Jaguars’ offense looks capable of scoring at a high pace this season.
Even with the potential to put up good numbers on offense, it’s a wait-and-see approach for the coaching staff, which knows this team still needs to find its identity.
“I think we need to focus on what we’re doing,” Emerald Ridge co-coach Adam Schakel said. “Last year was great. It was fun — there was lessons there, but (for) these guys, it’s a new year. Everybody’s out for the same thing and trying to compete.”
It’s a new year and a different approach as Emerald Ridge will focus on the arm of Skoda going forward.
“He’s our quarterback for this group of receivers,” Boston said. “This is our guy right here now.”
No bigger change in Emerald Ridge’s offense comes in the form of Skoda, the junior quarterback.
“He’s our guy going forward,” Schakel said. “We’re going to give every opportunity for him to succeed with this team.”
Standing 5 feet 11 inches and 190 pounds, Skoda doesn’t seem to be imposing at first glance as the junior quietly goes about his business on Emerald Ridge’s practice field.
It’s the trademark of the worker Skoda has become this past year, learning from former quarterback Griffin Meyers. When Skoda steps behind center, the Jaguars’ offense feels his presence.
“I think he’ll be good this year — I think he’s ready to go and get in there,” McGuire said. “He talks to us and he gets us ready — he always knows what’s going on.”
Skoda will be set to a tough test right out the gate as the young quarterback faces Class 2A Prosser on Sept. 4 when Emerald Ridge travels to face the Mustangs at Fiker Stadium.
The game against Prosser begins Skoda’s first test against tough defenses, as Emerald Ridge has road games the first three weeks including games at Kentwood and Graham-Kapowsin.
“Either way you cut, whether we’re home or away, playing in this league is going to be tough,” Schakel said. “These are the kind of contests you want to have early in the season to find out what your kids got.”
If this junior quarterback can survive the rough schedule, the ER staff may have been spot-on in its choice of selecting Skoda behind center.
“I think it’s an uphill battle, but if you want be the best, you have to beat the best,” Skoda said. “It’s a good challenge to open the season going on the road.”