So what if the Tahoma High School football team returns only three starters on both sides of the ball from last year?
So what if one of the players it lost was Amandre Williams, who probably was the most athletic player in the state as the 4A South Puget Sound League’s most prolific passer — and who is now a University of Washington linebacker.
You won’t see this Tahoma team crying.
Not even during the many sprints, up-downs and push-ups that Tony Davis, who is entering his 23rd year as Tahoma’s coach, is making the players do.
“It’s not the most fun thing, but we realize how beneficial it is,” senior Dylan Stewart said. “We aren’t going to be the biggest team out there, but we’re going to do the most sprints just so we can be in shape, and by the time we get into the fourth quarter, we can get to the line the fastest.”
The Bears finished 7-3 last year after losing to Lake Stevens in the 4A district playoffs. Williams threw for 3,235 yards (leading the 4A SPSL for the second straight year), and had 61.5 tackles and 5.5 sacks.
“Amandre was last year,” senior Josh Smith said. “We’ve got a new team this year. We are going to replace him with hard work, because that’s what Amandre was — hard work. The kid worked his butt off to get to where he is today.
“He’s at the UW and that’s great for him. He’s going to do great things. We replace him by working hard.”
Take Stewart for example.
He has spent the past two years as a running back and linebacker. But he asked Davis where he’d be most needed.
That turned out to be on the offensive line. So the 6-foot, 185-pound senior will play there.
And just about every school in the Cascade division of the 4A North Puget Sound League, which Tahoma will play in this year, lost their most impactful players from last year. So it’s not a Tahoma-only boat.
“We lost some pretty talented players,” Davis said. “But from a coach’s perspective, that’s high school football. We’d have a bigger problem if we didn’t have guys graduating. It’s been really kind of cool to see guys step into that void and see guys step into leadership roles.”
The offensive line will be young. So will the quarterback — who appears will be either Max Arend, Conner Lambro or Zack Jenkins.
But whoever starts will have some weapons on the outside, with Smith, senior Aidan Harmon and junior Jerrell Chapman. Chapman had 53 catches for 633 yards and five touchdowns in the regular season last year. Only Puyallup’s Tyler Torgerson and Emerald Ridge’s Andrew Boston had more receptions than he did (both had 60).
“Our whole team — we’re going to be a bunch of grinders,” Harmon said. “We have a very young team, but coach Davis is running us really hard in practice. We’re going to outwork our opponents.”
Tahoma opens the season against Federal Way of the 4A NPSL Olympic division at 7 p.m. Sept. 2 at Federal Way Memorial Stadium.
TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677