Bigger. Stronger. Meaner.
That could be the motto for Charles Wright Academy football for the 2015 season. A season removed from having offensive and defensive lines that were undersized, their massive growth will be a huge factor in improving on last season’s 4-6 record.
“Last year, our lines were predominantly small sophomores, maybe 5-foot-10 and 175 pounds,” head coach Mike Finch said. “All those guys grew an inch and gained 15 to 30 pounds.”
Finch laughed at a moment during the first day of camp. Junior lineman Evan Minsk needed only a handful of plays at summer camp to notice the difference.
“I can’t believe how much easier it is,” he screamed.
The stronger offensive line will be huge to the continued success of senior quarterback Henry Cheney. His junior season was one to remember. He was a dual threat, passing for 2,311 yards while adding 537 yards with his legs. He had 28 total touchdowns.
But Finch said he’s noticed Cheney’s knowledge of the playbook improve from last season.
“He’s our Russell Wilson,” Finch said. “He creates things and gets us out of bad situations. When Russell should be sacked, when Henry should be sacked, he doesn’t.”
Cheney is hoping to improve his pocket presence this season. In the past, he said he has a tendency to roll out when things get dicey. He sees the improvements on the offensive line and thinks those will help.
Cheney will be breaking in a new group of receivers this season after he said four senior receivers from last season graduated. But, he’s already pleased with the progress they’ve made building chemistry.
“When we do offensive scouting, we look pretty good,” he said. “Each week, we get a lot better. We were pretty rusty because it’s a new group of guys. Those guys are ready to step it up for sure.”
On defense, the Tarriers return two all-league defensive backs in Alex Meadowcraft and Desmond Jones. They also play offense, with Finch noting Meadowcroft as one of the offense’s biggest playmakers.
“He’s an ity-bity kid,” Finch said. “He’s 5-foot-9 on a good day, 130 pounds soaking wet. He’s just a nasty football player. Alex has that mentality. He’s not a bad kid when I say nasty and ruthless, but he’s scrappy. He’s relentless.”
Charles Wright has a tough nonleague schedule, starting with a road game against Tenino on Friday, then No. 7 Eatonville the following week. Tenino easily toppled Charles Wright, 50-8, in last season’s opener.
Cheney, however, has revenge on his mind.
“We’re ready to get them back,” he said with a smile. “They kinda took us down last year.”
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