Sports

Wolves look to reclaim Olympic League crown

For most coaches, not knowing their team's strength two weeks away from the season opener would be a big cause of concern.

Sequim head coach Erik Wiker isn't sweating it, though - not even a little bit.

With seniors or experienced juniors in almost every starting position, the Wolves are as deep as they've been in the sixth-year coach's tenure. Considering the Wolves have won four of the past five league titles, Sequim figures to be the preseason favorite for an Olympic League crown.

"We're two-deep all the way across," Wiker said at a preseason practice in mid-August. "We'll be able to attack a lot off different areas of the field with a lot of different people. That's what I like about this (team). Where's the strength? We're not so one-dimensional."

Instead of asking himself and other Sequim coaches that question, Wiker figures that will be what other coaches in the league (and, presumably, the state playoffs) will be asking.

Returning from last year's squad is nearly every offensive and defensive starter. Leading the charge is quarterback Drew Rickerson, who threw for 892 yards and eight touchdowns in 2008 before a concussion ended his season in the final regular contest before the state playoffs.

In early practices, the junior looked unhindered from the brain injury.

In the backfield, senior Travis Decker, Isaac Yamamoto and Jeremie Oliver handle most of the ground game. Decker led the Wolves with 1,063 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns.

Thomas Gallagher, Roman Turner, Ryan Woods and Jake Dethlefsen anchor the offensive lines along with newcomer Preston McFarlen.

John Textor and Clancy Catelli highlight an impressive group of athletes at wide receiver and tight end spots. While in past years Sequim has depended on one wideout to be a "game-breaker," this year's version of the Wolves seems to have four or five who could fit the bill. Textor led the team with 310 receiving yards and three scores in 2008 as a junior; Catelli led the squad with 18 receptions.

On the defensive side, Yamamoto and McFarlen anchor the linebacking corps with Catelli and Joey Hall attacking from the outside. Yamamoto was second on the team with 78 tackles.

Though disparate in height, the duo of Textor (a 6-foot 4-inch cornerback) and free safety Alex Gillis (a 5-foot, 8-inch free safety) are athletic enough to make a difference in the secondary. Gillis was third on the team in tackles in 2008, chalking up 77 tackles.

They'll get help from newcomers Joel Anastasi and Tyler Forshaw; this duo also may fill Sequim's kick return roles, Wiker said.

The only weakness to this team, Wiker said, may be in the kicking game. The Wolves lost senior place-kicker Erik Huston to graduation and hadn't picked up a replacement through the first few days of practice.

Sequim gets a chance for a bit of revenge right away in the season opener, a Sept. 4 date at home against Forks; last season the Spartans surprised the Wolves 19-0 before Sequim reeled off eight wins in their next nine games.

Wiker expects Eatonville and Fife to give the Wolves their toughest competition. Eatonville has a solid returner in senior quarterback Nick Fairhart but lost their two top receivers to graduation. Fife, which the Wolves take on in their last regular season game, has the most returning players of Sequim's 2009 foes, Wiker said, including senior star running back Alex Rohrer.

With a league title, Sequim gets a "home" game at Silverdale Stadium, Wiker said. A No. 2 seed could mean Sequim gets three playoff games in the span of nine days.

If the Wolves do make the playoffs, Wiker said he expects the Wolves to do well, considering the team's many strengths.

"I'm confident," he said. "My goal every year is to go to the playoffs."



Reach Michael Dashiell at miked@sequimgazette.com.

Sequim vs. Forks

When: 7 p.m., Sept. 4

Where: Sequim High School athletic field, 601 N. Sequim Ave.

Tickets: $5 for adults, high school/middle school students w/o ASB card; $3 for seniors (60+), middle school students with ASB card, K-5 students; high school students w/ASB cards, preschool students are free

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