High School Sports

Olympia as consistent as ever, returns some key players from injury

Bill Beattie may be the longest-tenured coach in the Class 4A Narrows league, but he doesn’t profess to know it all.

“I don’t know if you ever really figure it out,” Beattie said. “But at least I’ve got a routine.”

Entering his 21st season as Olympia High School’s head coach, Beattie has molded the football program into the very definition of routine.

The Bears are consistently contenders at the top of the 4A Narrows, finishing second last season at 6-4 before losing to eventual state semifinalist Newport in the district playoffs. Since joining the classification in 1999, Olympia is 124-43 and has won or shared six league titles — most recently an outright win in 2010.

“It’s the same every year for us,” Beattie said. “We probably stay the same as much as anyone in the state.”

At practice last week, the Bears took the field as Beattie watched from the northeast corner. Every 10 minutes, like clockwork, he blew an orange air horn, alerting his seasoned assistants — including eight Olympia graduates on a staff of 15 — to change the drill.

“The consistency comes from these guys,” Beattie said. “You can see that I can stand over here and nothing changes.”

All part of the routine, which, for Beattie, has produced continued results — he’s coached the Bears to a 150-57 record during his 20-year career with the program.

“I don’t think it’s any secret formula that’s not out there,” Beattie said. “But achieving it is not easy either — especially at the high school level.”

If there is a secret, it might be longevity.

Beattie has the longest tenure of any Class 4A Narrows coach by 17 seasons. Aaron Chantler at Gig Harbor has the second-longest term, entering his fourth season at the helm of the Tides. Three of the league’s coaches — Brian Jensen at Bellarmine Prep, Gavin Kralik at South Kitsap and Mike Spears at Timberline — are fresh for 2015.

In contrast, Olympia’s program, from its coaching staff to its player turnover rate — Beattie estimates about 30 seniors per year — seems to spell consistency.

“The amount of athleticism never really fluctuates that much around here,” senior offensive and defensive lineman Brett Thompson said. “It really just comes down to the leaders in that group (of seniors) to determine what kind of season you’re going to have.”

The other determining factor for the Bears this season will be a group of starters returning from injuries — including two main offensive weapons in senior wide receiver David Woodward and junior running back Scott Gunther.

“I think it’s going to make a big impact this year, because a lot of us are coming back from injury and we haven’t played,” Woodward said. “So we’re going to be eager to get on the field and make some big plays.”

Woodward did not see a snap in 2014 after fracturing two vertebrae in camp. Scott broke his right ring finger in practice the week of the season opener, and sat until the Bears played South Kitsap in Week 3. During that game, he snapped his collarbone in the end zone following a 35-yard touchdown run.

The Bears also return senior offensive lineman James Scott, who struggled with a repetitive knee dislocation last season.

The three make up the core of the Olympia offense, along with Thompson and senior quarterback Jack Bell.

“It just brings us back to where we know we can stand with anyone,” Thompson said. “We gained so much strength back.”

The Bears travel to the University of Washington on Saturday for their opener against Ferris at 1 p.m. in the third game of this year’s WIAA Emerald City Kickoff Classic. This is Olympia’s first trip to the invitational since 2004, when it defeated Walla Walla, 20-13, at then-Qwest Field.

Olympia also opened the 2014 season against Ferris, beating the Saxons, 20-13.

“It was a close game, and I’m sure they’ll be fired up and ready to go this year,” Beattie said.

Lauren Smith: 360-754-5473

lauren.smith@gateline.com

@smithlm12

4A NARROWS PRIMER

On the Throne

There’s understandably a lot of excitement surrounding the Gig Harbor football program, especially with a pair of TNT All-Area returners in QB Davis Alexander and WR Noah Samsen. Now add an All-Area transfer from Peninsula in Kyle Olson-Urbon. Offensive line could be key to Tides’ repeat success.

Change is Good

No more Tom Larsen at Bellarmine Prep nor Nathan Goltermann-Doyle, who ran for 1,509 yards and 14 touchdowns last season. Enter first-year coach Brian Jensen and running back Ahmad Lewis, who Jensen thinks could be the Lions’ next 1,000-yard ball carrier.

By the Numbers

Don’t call Olympia coach Bill Beattie old … but yes, he’s entering his 21st season at Olympia while the rest of the league’s coaches have a combined six years of experience at their schools. Three of those coaches are entering their first year. That makes Gig Harbor’s Aaron Chantler the league’s second-most experienced coach.

Projected Finish

Gig Harbor (9-2 last year), Bellarmine Prep (8-4), Olympia (6-4), South Kitsap (3-7), Timberline (5-5), Yelm (4-6), Stadium (0-10)

Mark the Date

Oct. 30: Bellarmine Prep vs. Gig Harbor, 7 p.m., Roy Anderson Field

BELLARMINE PREP LIONS

Coach: Brian Jensen, first year

2014 record: 8-4, third in league, lost in state quarterfinals

Offense: Coordinator (set) — Jensen (multiple). Returning starters — 3. Top players — OL G. Paul Gicewicz Jr., 6-5, 290, sr.; TE Erik Glueck, 6-2, 225; RB Ahmad Lewis, 5-11, 180, sr.; OL Alex McCullough, 5-7, 225, sr.; QB Christian Moore, 6-5, 185, jr.; WR Blake Wilcoxen, 6-3, 195, sr; OL Nico Xitco, 6-2, 265, jr.

Defense: Coordinator (set) — Dan Shaw (multiple). Returning starters — 4. Top players — DB Christian Brown, 5-11, 190, jr.; DB/LB Chase Chandler, 6-0, 200, soph.; LB Erik Glueck; DB Ahmad Lewis; LB Chandler Smith, 5-11, 180, sr.; DB Cameron Sterino, 5-11, 175, jr.; LB/DL Blake Torgerson, 6-0, 185, sr.

Outlook: The Lions will start their fourth quarterback in four years in the 6-foot-5 Moore. Jensen said he thinks Moore is a hidden gem. But BP returns the QB of the defense in Glueck, a first-team all-Narrows player last season. They love his motor and tenacity. He’ll play alongside Chandler, whose brother Calvin is on the Stanford football team and dad Jeff played for UW from 1985-89.

GIG HARBOR TIDES

Coach: Aaron Chantler, fourth year

2014 record: 9-2, first in league, lost in first round of state

Offense: Coordinator (set) — Chantler (spread). Returning starters — 8. Top players — QB Davis Alexander, 6-0, 175, sr.; OL Alex Emery, 6-0, 275, jr.; OL Connor Jost, 6-4, 220, sr.; WR Kyle Olson-Urbon, 6-0, 185, sr.; OL Sean Reemts, 6-2, 290, sr.; WR Noah Samsen, 5-10, 185, sr.; RB Adrian Valona, 5-8, 195, sr.

Defense: Coordinator (set) — Jack Lanier (multiple). Returning starters — 7. Top players — LB Alex Bouterse, 6-1, 200, sr.; DL Tommy Clauson, 5-10, 270, sr.; DB Cory Condon, 6-1, 175, sr.; DB Keyell Davis, 5-10, 180, sr.; LB Andrew Johnson, 6-0, 185, sr.; LB Kale Wong, 6-2, 190, sr.; DL Nate Younk, 6-2, 260, sr.

Outlook: This offense … it should turn some heads. The Tides return the 4A Narrows player of the year (Alexander), the offensive player of the year (Samsen), Valona, who ran for 1,192 yards last season, and adds Olson-Urbon, who transferred from Peninsula. Key will be offensive line opening up lanes and giving Alexander enough time to do his dual-threat thing. Linebackers could be really special.

OLYMPIA BEARS

Coach: Bill Beattie, 21st year

2014 record: 6-4, second in league, lost in district playoffs

Offense: Coordinator (set) — Bill Beattie (multiple). Returning starters — 3. Top players — QB Jack Bell, 6-0, 185, sr.; OL James Gunther, 5-11, 230, sr.; RB Scott Gunther, 5-11, 185, jr.; OL Brett Thompson, 6-4, 235, sr.; WR David Woodward, 6-3, 200, sr.

Defense: Coordinator (set) — Greg Hargrave (3-5). Returning starters — 6. Top players — DB Joel Jones, 5-11, 180, sr.; LB Clay Markoff, 5-10, 235, sr.; DL Amir Matheney, 6-3, 285, jr.; DB Christian Reed, 6-2, 190, sr.; DL Brett Thompson, 6-4, 235, sr.; DB David Woodward, 6-3, 200, sr.

Outlook: Beattie expects to be in the hunt for the league championship, as usual, which will be an easier road with two offensive weapons back in good health. Woodward and Scott Gunther both return from season-ending injuries in 2014 to ignite the Bears offense. First-team all-Narrows player Thompson will be a factor on both sides of the ball, and leads an experienced defensive line. Olympia’s only league loss last season — they were 5-1 — was to favorite and reigning champ, Gig Harbor.

SOUTH KITSAP WOLVES

Coach: Gavin Kralik, first year

2014 record: 3-7, fifth in league

Offense: Coordinator (set) — Kralik (multiple). Returning starters — 5. Top players — OL Jagher Beresheim, 6-0, 250, jr.; WR Izaijha Byrd, 6-0, 170, jr.; OL Daniel Ferguson, 6-3, 280, sr.; OL Jacob Miller, 6-3, 260, jr.; OL Kenny Stafne, 6-2, 265, jr.; QB Jake Taylor, 6-5, 205, sr.

Defense: Coordinator (set) — Dustin Booth (4-3). Returning starters — 5. Top players — DL Jagher Beresheim, 6-0, 250, jr.; LB Michael Garcia, 5-11, 205, sr; DL Elijah Griffin, 6-3, 305, sr.; DB Logan Guerrero, 5-9, 165, sr; DB Miles Huff, 5-10, 165, sr.

Outlook: Installing a no-huddle spread offense on a team that ran the I-formation last year hasn’t been without growing pains. But Kralik, the former Bethel coach, named Taylor his starting quarterback recently and said the 6-foot-5 senior has “by far the best arm I’ve ever had the opportunity to coach.” Taylor’s QB camp competitor, Cole Craner, has been converted into one of the team’s top receivers.

STADIUM TIGERS

Coach: Thomas Ford, second year

2014 record: 0-10, seventh in league

Offense: Coordinator (set) — Ford (multiple). Returning starters — 5. Top players — OL John Blasco Jr., 6-5, 290, jr.; RB Jamon Chambers, 5-8, 170, jr.; WR Max Novak, 5-11, 160, jr.; OL Bernard Tauese, 6-1, 250, jr.; QB Hunter Wendling, 5-10, 150, soph.; OL Ryan Wrzesien, 6-2, 285, sr.

Defense: Coordinator (set) — Bucky Brenner (3-3-5). Returning starters — 6. Top players — DB Eric Auelua, 5-11, 200, sr.; LB Jared Dominguez, 6-2, 220, sr.; LB Shane Lincoln, 5-10, 180, jr.; DL J.D. Jordan, 5-10, 230, jr.; DB Mason Scott, 5-10, 165, sr.; LB Darren Yeun, 5-7, 175, sr.; DL Ben Yokoyama, 6-3, 230, jr.

Outlook: Ford has a remodeled offense from last year’s team that didn’t score more than 14 points in a game until a 30-20 loss in the season finale against Foss. Wendling, a sophomore transfer from Tahoma, hasn’t looked much like a sophomore, and Chambers and Auelua should provide some life to the running game. Entire offensive line returns, too. Ford’s been most impressed with offseason dedication from the returners.

TIMBERLINE BLAZERS

Coach: Mike Spears, first year

2014 record: 5-5, fourth in league, lost in district playoffs

Offense: Coordinator (set) — Rikki Reid (pistol spread), James Jones (run). Returning starters — 4. Top players — WR Eli Allen, 6-3, 190, sr.; WR Chris Barnes, 6-0, 180, sr.; RB/WR Michael Barnes, 5-11, 170, so.

Defense: Coordinator (set) — Mike Spears (3-3 stack). Returning starters — 6. Top players — LB Ryan Birbeck, 6-1, 210, sr.; LB Jarryn Bush, 6-2, 210, sr.; DB Uli Ma’ae, 5-11, 175, sr.; DL James Strong, 6-5, 230, sr.; DL Alizen Wilson, 6-6, 370, jr.

Outlook: A lot is new this season, from Spears to a first-year quarterback (likely junior Jacob Henning) that will replace the graduated Gabe Gutierrez, a first-team all-Narrows player in 2014. Spears says he has the foundation to pull the young Blazers out of the middle of the league, including pillars on both sides of the ball — a pair of first-team all-Narrows players return this year in Barnes at wide receiver and Ma’ae at defensive back.

YELM TORNADOS

Coach: Jason Ronquillo, third year

2014 record: 4-6, sixth in league

Offense: Coordinator (set) — Jason Ronquillo (multiple). Returning starters — 7. Top players — TE Joey Hawks, 6-3, 200, jr.; WR Kaleb Lunderville, 6-2, 185, jr.; QB Daylon Matthews, 6-2, 185, sr.; K Vernon Parker, 6-0, 200, sr.; OL Tim Piland, 6-0, 210, sr.; RB Brandon Thompson, 5-9, 180, jr.

Defense: Coordinator (set) — Todd Cordova (3-3). Returning starters — 7. Top players — LB Bo Campbell, 5-10, 195, sr.; DB Peter Finley, 6-0, 185, sr.; DL Gabe Krizan, 6-2, 250, sr.; LB Deonte Payne, 5-10, 185, jr.; DB Devante Pearson, 6-2, 190, sr.

Outlook: The Tornados have an offense packed with returning starters — but none more important than Thompson at running back. He will anchor the offense again this season after rushing for more than 1,200 yards in 2014, and will be key in keeping the Tornados out of the 4A Narrows basement. The secondary offers the most experience defensively with two all-Narrows returners in Finley and Pearson.

t.cotterill@thenewstribune.com

lauren.smith@gateline.com

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