High School Sports

Replacing four-year star QB Dylan Morris? Graham Kapowsin senior Thomas up for the challenge

Graham Kapowsin’s Nate Thomas takes over at QB for Dylan Morris

Graham Kapowsin senior Nate Thomas takes over at QB for Dylan Morris, who was a four-year starter for the Eagles and currently plays for the University of Washington
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Graham Kapowsin senior Nate Thomas takes over at QB for Dylan Morris, who was a four-year starter for the Eagles and currently plays for the University of Washington

For the first time in a while, Graham Kapowsin will have a new starting quarterback. Current University of Washington QB Dylan Morris was a steady presence for the Eagles the last few seasons, starting all four years of his high school career.

The stats speak for themselves: As a senior, Morris completed 173 of 291 passes for 2,571 yards and 28 touchdowns. In his four-year career, he completed 636 of 1,021 passes for 9,815 yards and 99 touchdowns, which placed him seventh all-time in the state for passing yards.

For senior Nate Thomas, who will take over the duties this season, those are some big — OK, huge — shoes to fill.

“He set a high standard,” Thomas said. “It’s hard to live up to, but I’m not going to live in that shadow. I just want to be my own person.”

For GK coach Eric Kurle, he’s careful to make sure Thomas knows that he doesn’t have to be the next Dylan Morris.

“The biggest thing is just helping him understand to do the simple things, do the easy reads, stay under control and use your legs if things aren’t right,” Kurle said. “The biggest thing is just him being himself and not worrying about what Dylan did.”

Kurle thought back to a passing league tournament Graham Kapowsin played in during the past offseason — Thomas’ first action as the starting QB. The pressure and expectation of taking over for Morris may have surfaced in that moment.

“He just kind of froze — he didn’t play very well,” Kurle said.

So Kurle took him out of the game, gave him a break to clear his head and put him back into the game.

“He came back in played outstanding, and has played outstanding since then,” Kurle said. “He just needed to settle down.”

Thomas played receiver for the Eagles, before switching to quarterback as a sophomore. The past two years, he served as Morris’ backup, learning and biding his time.

“I learned everything I could,” he said. “Working hard. He never didn’t show up. He was always there for lifting, always had a great attitude. He made everything fun.”

Thomas might not have the cannon of an arm that Morris had, but he has plenty of athleticism, as a former receiver turned QB.

“He can do it all,” said first-team SPSL 4A receiver Malaki Roberson. “He’s mobile, he’s improved this offseason. I expect him to do good things. I like him back there. He’s a guy we can rely on.”

He also has the faith of his teammates, who he’s played with together since they were kids on “Little Eagles,” coming through the ranks.

“He’s bringing a lot of leadership, leading us through all our scrimmages, practices,” said tight end Eython Daugherty.

Thomas will have plenty of capable playmakers around him, but the biggest strength of Graham Kapowsin’s squad could be its defense. The Eagles return their entire secondary and add some new talent and depth, with senior corner Malik Madison, and senior Seth Olmos, nickel Tino Hansen and safeties Elija Reed and Val Hansen.

“We’re looking really good on defense,” Tino Hansen said. “We play physical, hard and fast every game.”

GK is somewhat inexperienced on the offensive line, but is bringing up a talented sophomore class, led by 6-foot-4, 290-pound Vega Ioane, who has already secured an offer from UW.

Graham Kapowsin’s only league loss was to Puyallup last year. Puyallup, also, has to replace its starting quarterback from last season. Could this be the year the Eagles come out on top of the SPSL 4A? The players seem to like their chances.

“I feel like we could win it this year and go undefeated,” Roberson said.

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