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Fall sports preview: Sequim High School football
For a week, it's a brand new world for the Sequim Wolves. The first week of the 2012 campaign, it's an out-of-state, non-league game on an indoor college field.
After their week one match-up with Idaho small-school powerhouse Shelley, it's back to normal for Sequim — meaning, trying to win another Olympic League championship.
The Wolves are the perennial frontrunners in this 2A league. Even after suffering their first league defeat in three seasons (a road loss to North Kitsap) in 2011, the Wolves managed to win their seventh league title in eight campaigns.
Head coach Erik Wiker expects no less from his purple-and-gold-clad players in 2012.
"That's what we play for," Wiker says. "To win league, go to state and win state."
To get there, Sequim will have to overpower a league Wiker says will be more competitive in 2012: North Kitsap returns a number of good players and is well-coached; Olympic and newly classified Bremerton both have exceptional playmakers; North Mason is going to be tougher than most expect; Klahowya showed promise at the end of last season; and Port Angeles' coaching staff will get a lot from their players.
"It's a tighter league, for sure," Wiker says.
Despite six consecutive state appearances, the Wolves haven't been able to break through to that state title game. Last season, an injury-plagued Wolves squad ran into a buzz saw that was WF West (Chehalis) in a 52-21, first-round state tourney loss.
Despite losing several key players to graduation — quarterback Frank Catelli, all-state defensive back Tyler Forshaw and much of their vaunted offensive and defensive lines — the Wolves have a number of returning impact players.
On the offensive
Slated as the team's top running back in 2011, then-junior Jack Wiker was forced into service at quarterback when injuries derailed Catelli's season. Wiker flourished at times, throwing for 787 yards and seven touchdowns in just four starts. His 285 yards and four scores led Sequim over Eatonville in the class 2A state tourney qualifier.
Wiker was even more impressive on the ground, utilized as the top back early in the season and a dual threat later on. He ran for 886 yards and 20 touchdowns, topping the 100-yard mark four times.
"That (running) was no surprise to anybody," Erik Wiker says. "That he could pass, that was a surprise."
He'll be joined by returning back Lopaka Yasumura, who tallied 70 yards and a score in his lone start, a 27-14 win against Port Angeles, and had 187 yards total in an injury-plagued 2011 campaign.
Also back is wide receiver Christian Miles, a fleet-footed playmaker who had 24 catches for 394 yards (16.4 yards per catch) and six scores.
Although the Wolves lost Forshaw and seniors Nick Ramirez and Michael Ballard to graduation, Wiker likes his depth at wide receiver with Miles, Sam Lidstrom (13 catches in 2011), Josiah Anastasi, Jon Donahue and Brett Wright. This complement of playmakers, Wiker said, would have started on other teams if not playing behind Sequim's receiving corps.
Anchoring the offensive line are brothers Alex and Fred Serrano, plus returnee Andrew Shimer and newcomers Jared McMinn and Austin Sampson.
Miguel Moroles is the backup quarterback, a sophomore who saw some playing time in 2011 and who Wiker says could run the system well if needed.
A purple wall
Most of the Sequim starters will be two-way players — at least initially — for the Wolves in 2012. With the Serrano brothers, Shimer and McMinn up front, the Wolves look to post a strong defensive front that allowed 14 points per game in the regular season. Shimer was fourth on the team in tackles in 2011 with 106 stops and added three sacks.
"Our front four is pretty good," Erik Wiker says.
Wiker and Yasumura are the middle linebackers while Donahue and rookie Chris Frick start at outside linebacker.
Miles, Lidstrom and Wright anchor the secondary.
The 2012 schedule
The Wolves open against Shelley, a perennial state title contender in Idaho's 3A classification.
Sequim will play the Russets at Idaho State University's 12,000-seat Holt Arena, the oldest enclosed stadium on a college campus in the nation.
"I love it; it's a good program — us — playing a good program," Erik Wiker says. "Plus it's an experience they will remember the rest of their lives."
Wiker likened the match-up to non-league games Sequim scheduled against smaller but successful schools in past seasons, such as Cascade Christian and Meridian.
"We're challenging ourselves," Wiker says. "They (Shelley) are well-balanced, a traditional wing-T running team."
Sequim adds a second non-leaguer in week two, going on the road against River Ridge. The Hawks were 3-6 in 2011 but played powerhouse squads such as Tumwater, North Thurston and WF West in the regular season.
The Wolves then jump into league play at Bremerton in week three, playing newly classified Bremerton (the Knights were a 3A school last season) on Sept. 14.
Sequim gets its first home game in week four, taking on North Kitsap — which joins Steilacoom as the only Olympic League teams to beat Sequim since 2003.
The Wolves follow that with a road game at Olympic in week five, home against Kingston in week six, Homecoming/Senior Night against Klahowya in week seven (Oct. 12), at rival Port Angeles in week eight and finally at North Mason in week nine to cap the regular season.