That’s the question Black Hills must answer as the backfield will have a void because of the graduation of Cody Peterson, who now plays football at Navy.
And while it’s tough to replace Peterson, the Rams have players ready to step in.
Senior Tom Turner played behind Peterson last season. Turner, at 5-feet-10 and 175 pounds, had 40 carries and scored two touchdowns as a junior.
“He’s already stepped up,” senior quarterback Trent Alsin said of Turner. “He did really well at camp.”
Alsin’s versatility and speed make him a player opponents have to keep an eye on.
Alsin won the 100-meter dash at the Class 2A state track and field championships in May, and had from seven to 10 runs a game last season in the Wolves’ shotgun, no-huddle offense.
Alsin improved over the summer by attending a quarterback camp at the University of Washington.
“He’s really worked on his quarterbacking skills,” Black Hills coach Jack Zilla said. “He’s got it all; he’s the total package.”
Twelve starters – six offense, six defense – return from a team that finished 8-3 and advanced to the first round of the Class 2A state playoffs for the second consecutive season.
The Wolves lost in the playoffs last season to eventual champion Lynden, 14-7.
Since the school opened in 1997, Black Hills has been to the playoffs six times, but never advanced past the first round.
“We talk about playing indoor football (at the Tacoma Dome),” Zilla said. “Our goal is to play as well as we can, and work as well as we can, but we would like to play indoor football.”
Zilla said he’s pleased with the speed and experience of his offensive and defensive linemen, anchored by seniors Jared Zvirzdys (6-3, 235) and Jared Pauly (6-2, 230).
However, the line will start the season without Pauly, who was slated to move from defensive end to center, because he broke his leg on the final day of the team camp in July.
Junior Jeremy Phillips stepped in for the remaining scrimmages at the team camp, and soon earned the starting spot.
“We need a lot of new, younger players to step up this year,” Alsin said.
“We have some really talented kids coming up and have worked really hard this summer to get better. We have high hopes for this year.”
Black Hills opens its non-league schedule with 1A powerhouse Montesano and 4A Shelton, before starting league play against Centralia.
Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473 firstname.lastname@example.org
HEAD COACH: Jack Zilla, 13th season
O: Zilla, shotgun
D: Eric Snelson, 4-3
TOP PLAYERS: RB Tom Turner, sr., 5-10, 185; QB Trent Alsin, sr., 5-11, 175; LB/RB Evan Jackson, sr., 5-11, 190; OL/DL Jared Zvirzdys, sr., 6-3, 235; OL Jared Pauly, sr., 6-2, 230; DL/TE Luke Swetich, sr., 6-1, 230; LB/RB Mitchell Stuart, so., 6-0, 190; LB/RB Marquise Wall, so., 5-11, 185; DL/TE Jacob Crawford, jr., 5-10, 160; DB Cameron Stone, jr., 5-8, 155; DB Kalvin Hargrave, jr., 5-8, 150.
Will the third time be a charm for the Wolves if they reach the postseason? The past two years resulted in back-to-back state berths, but they’ve failed to win in the first round. The 12 returning starters, who are led by quarterback and Class 2A state sprint champion Trent Alsin, want to get over that hump. Expect big things from senior running backs Tom Turner and Evan Jackson.