There are plenty of reasons to think Puyallup High School’s football team won’t be able to do what it did last year in the rugged 4A SPSL.
But their confidence among the Vikings players that they are well-positioned to be as good if not better than 2017 when they rolled to an 8-0 record while shutting down Graham-Kapowsin and Sumner in back-to-back weeks en route to a state playoff berth.
Graham-Kapowsin returns four-year starting quarterback Dylan Morris, the state’s top recruit in the 2019 class, Sumner has reloaded and you know powers such as Curtis, Bellarmine and Olympia will be gunning to take the Vikings down. All this matters not to Puyallup senior quarterback Jacob Holcolmb.
“I believe we are the top dogs,” Holcomb, a second-year starter, said. “I think we have the players to (repeat as league champions), we have team chemistry. We have a great bond here at Puyallup and we are ready to go.”
It’s not unfounded hope. There’s talent on offense back from a team that averaged over 35 points per game last season.
Holcomb proved to be a dual threat for the Vikings, passing for 2,134 yards and 27 touchdowns, and rushing for 242 yards and five scores. He returns two playmakers in senior receivers Darius Morrison (65 receptions, 938 yards, 16 touchdowns) and Justin Haase (24 receptions, 357 yards, three touchdowns).
During the summer, Holcomb gathered his receivers almost every day to practice running routes, building their timing and chemistry.
“For me personally, I really feel like I’ve matured,” Holcomb said. “I’m really starting to get to my reads and my progression more than last year. I’m just more confident.”
Coach Gary Jeffers noted that his team has put in the time to get better. They get their first test on Friday when they host Bellarmine Prep at 7 p.m. at Sparks Stadium in Puyallup.
“Our kids have been working hard since Jan. 9 when we started our offseason conditioning program,” said Jeffers, who is entering his ninth season with Puyallup.
“They’ve built a brotherhood together based on their hard work and I think we are in position to reap the benefits of that hard work.”
Senior running back Kyle Cramer, who led the team with over 1,100 yards rushing last year, provides balance to the offense. He’ll be supplemented by junior Danny Uluilakepa, who will continue to play the linebacker but will also get reps at running back.
Because of last year’s success and the team’s preparation so far, Uluilakepa carries himself with a confidence that is reverberated throughout the Vikings’ team. They believe they are going to win, and do it even better than last year.
“Hopefully we beat them by more this year because last year was pretty close,” he said. “We have to focus on the little things and not get caught up in the moment.”