It doesn’t matter what the Cougars’ non-league record is, just as long as Capital makes the postseason.
For the third year in a row, the Cougars have non-leagues games against traditional power O’Dea of Seattle and Class 4A Olympia. Although they started 0-2 the past two seasons, the Cougars recovered to make the playoffs.
“We’re not concerned with going undefeated,” said Johnson, whose team also faces Lakes and Enumclaw in non-league games. “... Getting them to rebound (after a loss) and understand we need to put ourselves in a position to be successful. We control our own destiny.”
In Johnson’s three previous seasons, the Cougars qualified for the Class 3A state playoffs, including a state semifinals appearance in 2008.
For the 20-plus seniors and five soon-to-be four-year letter winners, they’ve only known success in their high school career.
“I don’t think we’ve had a class that wants a state championship more than we do,” senior running back Tyler Sundberg said. “Coach talks about wanting and needing. We have the players, we have the talent, and we have everything we need. We just need to do it.”
Fifteen starters (eight offense, seven defense) return, including four who were first-team all-Olympic Western League performers – Sundberg, Jourdan Weiks (receiver), Jay Maiava (linebacker) and Chase Lamoreaux (defensive back).
Sundberg, one of the top running backs in the South Sound, will again lead a powerful running game.
Sundberg had a breakout junior season, running for 1,625 yards and a single-season school-record 31 touchdowns, eclipsing the mark of 22 by Charlie Kentwood in 1996.
Even more could be in store for the 5-foot-11, 190-pounder. Since dropping a 30-12 decision to Union in November, Sundberg has spent hours in the weight room, dropping 15 pounds while increasing his speed.
Sundberg’s not the only weapon. Quarterback Alex Everson has shown improvement and increased composure. Johnson said Everson has improved his passing.
Johnson said he feels his receiving corps is deep and skilled, calling the unit of Weiks, Greg Hibbard, Roman Vern and newcomer Darius Antalan “the best in the state.”
“They’re disciplined in their routes,” Johnson said. “With the 50/50 (pass-to-run ratio), there’s no telling how good we can be.”
This is the second year Capital will use the I-Pro as its offensive set, something Johnson has used in his past coaching stints. He switched from the spread after his first two seasons to better fit the personnel.
The newly formed Narrows League, 3A division features two other teams from the now-defunct Olympic Western League – Timberline and Yelm, along with Tacoma schools Foss, Lincoln and Wilson, which were reclassified from the 4A Narrows League. The top three teams earn playoff berths.
Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473 email@example.com
HEAD COACH: J.D. Johnson, fourth season
O: Arne Jensen, I-Pro
D: Johnson, 3-5
TOP PLAYERS: RB Tyler Sundberg, sr., 5-11, 190; LB Jay Maiava, sr., 5-11, 220; WR Jourdan Weiks , sr., 5-10, 180; S Chase Lamoreaux, sr., 6-0, 215.
The Cougars have had nothing but success under fourth-year coach J.D. Johnson, having made the 3A state playoff every season since he took over in 2007.They are a favorite to win the Narrows League 3A division. Johnson said his receiving corps is one of “the best in the state,” led by Weiks and Hibbard. Sundberg will lead the running game after gaining 1,625 yards as a junior.