Back to the gridironWashington kicks off 2014 season against Pella
After getting to the state championship game, most teams would try to remain as much the same as possible the next season.
If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it, right?
For the Washington football team, there are going to be a lot of changes as they get set for the 2014 season.
All-State running back Alex Coker? Off to the University of South Dakota.
All-State linebacker Garrett Covington? Graduated.
Head coach Randy Schrader? Retired.
With so much moving around for the Demons (who graduated 67.7 percent of their offensive yardage from 2013), most people would think they’ll need a week or two to get together as a cohesive unit.
Things are tough right off the bat for Washington football as they take on the Dutch (widely regarded as a Top 5 team in the state) in the season-opener on Friday night.
“I want to know who put together the schedule for me to welcome me to Washington,” Garrison Carter, the Demons’ new head coach, joked. “I’m excited to coach football. It’s my first game here, but it’s my fifth year as a head coach, so I have the drill down by now. It’s still exciting, and there’s a little nerves with a new crowd, new fans, new players and a new atmosphere.”
Oh yes, and there’s history between Washington and Pella.
In week two last season, the Dutch stifled the Washington offense en route to a 14-7 win at Case Field, but the Demons got a chance at revenge in the state quarterfinals.
They traveled to Pella and put on a great defensive performance, pitching a road shutout, 28-0, ending Pella’s season.
“We went down there and goose-egged them in the quarterfinals, so I think we’ll have a target on our backs,” Washington senior quarterback Daryn Seibelius said. “Especially being the state runners-up, everybody we play wants to give it to us. We are ready and prepared.”
Pella returns a lot of experience from last season, including its top two running backs, juniors Noah Clayberg and Nathan Henry, who combined for 2,119 yards in 2013.
“They are extremely talented in the backfield, returning all the skill kids they had from last year,” Carter said. “Defensively we have to bottle them up. They are fast and they can run. We can’t give up home run plays, and offensively, they return a strong defensive seven. Pella had one of the best defenses in the state last year, and we have to be efficient and high execution.”
The Dutch gave up 8.8 points per game defensively in 2013.
After last week’s scrimmage against Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont, Carter is hoping the Demons approach this game as week two instead of week one.
“You are going to have a little rust on week one, but we are hoping the scrimmage got rid of that last week,” Carter said. “Teams improve the most from week one to week two, so we are hoping we can take some of that from last week as week one. We had some good film time and the kids have seen what they need to correct, and we are going forward from there.
“Our kids are just excited to play football,” Carter added. “It doesn’t matter who is coming here. The fact that it’s Pella, a Top 5 team, coming in adds to that excitement and adds to their crave to get out to the football field.”
After the scrimmage, the Demons were left a little worse for wear as Gage Redlinger suffered a concussion, and will be out for week one.
Against Pella last season, he only caught one pass, coming in the week two matchup, but it went for a 70-yard touchdown.
“Gage is injured, which is a huge loss for us on both offense and defense, but we have the playmakers on offense and defense,” Seibelius said. “It’s another week, but then again it’s not. This one is going to actually mean something, and it’s against a worthy opponent in Pella.”
The season will officially open at 7:30 p.m. on Friday at Case Field.