Josh Seaton spent his offseason catching passes. Not throwing them.
But here the Cascade Christian senior was, asked to switch after halftime from receiver to quarterback in the Cougars’ season opener against Sehome at Husky Stadium with his defending 1A state champions trailing 13-7.
First possession — they turn it over on a fumble.
Fortunately for seventh-ranked Cascade Christian (7-1), things have only gone up from there … not that there was any other direction to go.
“That first drive was a little nerve-wracking,” Seaton said.
“But we got to the sideline and we were all looking at each other and we’re like, ‘OK, jitters are out. We got to get back into this game.’ ”
Cascade Christian scored on each of its next three offensive possessions to win, 28-13.
And Seaton has grown more comfortable as a quarterback since.
He entered the program four year ago hoping to be a quarterback. Only the Cougars had Jaelin Goldsmith, who started at QB all four years and last season was named the 1A state player of the year.
So Seaton instead found a niche at wide receiver and as a college-hopeful, hard-hitting, 200-pound safety on the Cougars defense, where he’s asked to call the plays and read the offense.
“He can bring it,” Cascade Christian coach Randy Davis said. “And he reads an offense so well from back there. He calls the adjustments and calls the defense for us. He’s our coach on the field.”
A natural fit for quarterback, right?
Only Cascade Christian began the season with junior Jake Nielsen as its quarterback. He practiced there through the Cougars’ spring, summer and fall camps and played there the first half of that Sehome game.
Davis’ Cascade Christian began its run of five state championship appearances in seven years (including two titles) in 2008 when it lost to Cashmere, 10-9, in the final. Davis said that loss changed his philosophy on quarterbacks because Cashmere’s QB played the fourth quarter fresh because he didn’t have to double as a defensive starter.
“Ever since then our quarterbacks have not played defense,” Davis said. “And Josh was too valuable on defense. We can’t take him out, but Jake was one we could. It just got to the point where (Nielsen) wasn’t quite getting it done.”
And with Seaton, he gave Cascade Christian that athleticism Davis thought was lost when Goldsmith graduated and left for Wheaton College in Illinois.
Seaton has completed 60 of 97 passes for 906 yards and seven touchdowns, despite only throwing about 50 passes this offseason, he said.
“Just being a receiver, I know what routes I was open on and I wouldn’t get the ball,” Seaton said. “So just having that experience, I’m able to have that connection with (wide receiver Austin Carder) out there and we’re able to link up on those routes.”
You’ll never confuse Cascade Christian for a throwing team. It’s probably 15 percent pass to 85 percent run, Davis said, though he’s hoping that can become 25-75.
Seaton’s greatest duty has been to hand off to Madden Tobeck (63 carries, 550 yards, 12 TDs), Peyton Berry (56 carries, 460 yards, 7 TDs) and Zach Bartolome (54 carries, 471 yards, 5 TDs), and let them run behind Cascade Christian’s stout offensive line that features two returning all-state players (Te’ave Magalei and Jared Flattum).
Seaton said his line has even made some reads for him.
“He’s been playing wide receiver, so he hasn’t spent a lot of time looking at the defensive line and linebackers,” said Flattum, whose father, Brian, is Cascade Christian’s offensive coordinator. “So we try to help him out. If there’s a blitz going to the right side and we’re going to run it over there, we tell him to check it to the other side.”
Davis said he’s progressively opened up the playbook for Seaton, though the senior still is working to perfect the deep ball.
“The hardest thing for any quarterback is to read the defense, and that’s something even Jaelin struggled with until his senior year,” Davis said. “And (Seaton) doesn’t have the gun that Jaelin had, but he can throw the ball.
“He has gotten better every week, and that’s huge because we were wondering if we were going to be able to throw the ball at all. And as we get into the playoffs, teams aren’t stupid — they’ll load the box and dare you to throw.”
Cascade Christian’s hosts Chimacum in a 1A district playoff game at 7 p.m. Saturday at Sunset Chev Stadium in Sumner.
“The beginning was a little rough of a transition,” Seaton said. “But once we got into a flow, it’s been good.”
TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677