Last season was so successful, the Eatonville High School football team won the 1A Evergreen Conference title and went on to play in the state semifinals for the first time since 1997, only losing to eventual state champion Cascade Christian.
This year, the Cruisers are just trying to learn everybody’s names.
"We start with little things, like learn everyone’s name," head coach George Fairhart said. "We have to come together as a team. The upperclassmen have to learn the freshmen’s names."
Some of the easiest names so far have been Jacob McCormick, Josh Miller and Logan Moose. McCormick was a first-team all-league quarterback as a junior last season, Miller a first-team offensive lineman and Moose a first-team all-league linebacker.
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Eatonville enters the season ranked seventh in the 1A classification despite losing league MVP George Tomal and co-defensive players of the year Justin Kaelin and John Warner to graduation. But this group isn’t thinking too far ahead.
"We start with little goals to build up to our bigger goals," Moose, a running back and defensive end said. "One of those little goals is learning everyone’s names."
McCormick and Moose say that they can name everyone. Which is saying something, considering names on the roster such as Teddie Bushey, Zach Vandersluis and Trevor Rangamar. Or how about Wade Wikander, Rulon Enwiller or Tristan Schoepf?
"We spend 15 to 20 minutes each practice on learning names," McCormick said. "It’s really important at this point."
McCormick, who enters his third year as the Cruisers’ starter, threw for 1,147 yards and 12 touchdowns last season.
"Of course we want to win the league and go to state," McCormick said while Moose nodded in agreement. "But we want to take it one game at a time and finish games as strong as we can."
Last season Moose was one of three running backs in Eatonville’s stable with at least 550 rushing yards, gaining 582 yards and 10 touchdowns. He’ll be a featured back again on this year’s team, but not the only one.
"We don’t have big stats," Fairhart said. "Moose will be a standout, but we’ll rotate guys at running back."
The News Tribune will visit 17 high school football practices in the 14 days leading up to the first Football Friday of the season, breaking down some of the teams, players and storylines entering the 2015-16 season.
The tour will include three schools from the 4A Narrows League, four teams from the 4A SPSL, two from the 3A Narrows League, two from the 3A SPSL, one from the 2A Evergreen Conference, two from the 2A SPSL, one from the 1A Evergreen, one from the 1A Nisqually and one from the 2B Pacific.
Teams will be revealed each day, starting with the first day of official practices Wednesday, Aug. 19.
TNT PRESEASON PRACTICE TOUR
Practice preview: South Sound’s four most illustrious 4A schools enter new eras
Aug. 19: Timberline Blazers
Aug. 22: Kentlake Falcons
Aug. 26: Black Hills Wolves
Aug. 28: Yelm Tornados
Aug. 29: Clover Park Warriors
Aug. 31: Mount Tahoma Thunderbirds
Sept. 1: Eatonville Cruisers
Sept. 2: Charles Wright Tarriers
Sept. 3: Sumner Spartans
LEAGUE FOOTBALL PREVIEWS
In-depth look at some of the top storylines, team-by-team breakdown, games to watch and predictions from the 4A Narrows, 4A SPSL, 3A Narrows, 3A SPSL, 2A SPSL, and 1A Nisqually, as well as capsules from other area small-school teams.
State football overview: Dual-threat QBs have Auburn Mountainview, Gig Habor thinking state
Preseason TNT All-State football team: Graham-Kapowsin’s Foster Sarell on of nation’s top 2017 recruits
3A Narrows: Is that Xavier Cooper? Or Wilson’s A.J. Ruffin?
2A Evergreen: Team capsules
1A Nisqually: Team capsules. Story Saturday.
Small schools: Team capsules