The Blazers were true to their name last season, and they should be even faster this year, coach Nick Mullen said.
“We create a lot of problems with our speed ... it’s hard to stop,” Mullen said. “It’s pretty fun to watch.”
Team speed has led to more options for the high-powered Blazers’ pistol spread offense. They averaged 38 points in a 10-1 season in 2009.
Although Timberline was bounced out in the first round of the playoffs for the second consecutive year – by Union in 2008 and Glacier Peak, at home no less, last season – players and coaches are quick to think they’ll be playoff bound this season.
“Everyone thought last year’s team was explosive. They’re going to be surprised,” senior quarterback Kevin Russell said. “ ... There’s no reason why we can’t do it (again) and go further.”
While there’s a lack of varsity experience with three returning starters on each side of the ball, there’s no shortage of playmakers. Russell, a unanimous first-team all-Olympic Western League pick, threw for more than 1,900 yards and 23 touchdowns as a junior – his first season as a full-time starter.
With a receiving corps that’s quick and six-players deep, he’ll have plenty of options. Dale “Bubba” Garcia and Charles “Buddy” MacNeil are returning starters at receiver, followed by Douglas Sudberry, James Mitchell, Jordan Thompson and Junior Chaney. Russell described Garcia as a go-to receiver and MacNeil good for the deep pattern.
In the backfield is speedster Quinton Sison, who has power to break tackles and gets good yards after contact. Mullen describes Sison a “freak of nature.”
“We throw so we can run,” Mullen said. “And the kids that are coming back are kids who’ve been with us for four years. They’ve set the expectations for the past three years.”
But with one starter back on the offensive line – senior center Amosi Oloi (5-foot-11, 270 pounds) – there’s a question if Timberline has the size and experience to open the holes for the running game and to protect Russell.
However, despite its lack of size, the offensive line didn’t allow Russell to get sacked until five games into last season.
Defensively, the Blazers could be stout against the run. Mullen was pleased by the defense’s performance against the run at the University of Puget Sound team camp in July.
For the third time in Mullen’s four-year tenure, the Blazers will play in a new league – the newly formed Narrows League 3A division. Timberline spent the past three seasons in the now-defunct Western Cascade Conference (2007) and Olympic Western League for football only (2008, 2009).
Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473 firstname.lastname@example.org
HEAD COACH: Nick Mullen, fourth season
O: Jake Dorn, pistol
D: Mullen, 3-3-5
TOP PLAYERS: QB Kevin Russell, sr., 6-1, 190; C/NT Amosa Oloi, sr., 5-11, 270; WR/MLB Dale Garcia, sr., 6-2, 215; DE Kalai Cababat, sr., 6-3, 225; RB/FS Quinton Sison, jr., 5-10, 190
Mullen says his team isn’t rebuilding, despite losing many starters. They’re reloading with numerous players who have varsity experience. Timberline’s offense will be on the shoulders of Russell, who threw for nearly 2,000 yards in his first full season as a starter. Team speed with Sison in the backfield could make the Blazers a favorite to win the new Narrows League 3A division. The seniors are Mullen’s first full class since he took over in 2007.