Steve Schultz has spent 14 seasons building River Ridge High School’s football program from the ground up.
He pledges to do the same with the girls basketball program.
“When I took the job, we had seven girls left in the whole high school that played basketball,” Schultz said. “I went to (Athletic Director Gary Larson) and said, ‘I want this job.’ Take away the wins and losses, I want to get the community and school back where it needs to be.”
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Schultz unofficially took over the program in June after four-year coach Jackie Robinson — who filled the same position at Olympia High School — resigned.
Since then, turnout has increased to 22 players — mostly underclassmen — and Schultz has focused on rebuilding River Ridge’s youth program.
“His plan is to start the future Hawks program,” Larson said. “He’s going after every girl in the area to get them into the gym and do skill and drill — stuff as easy as passing and catching the ball. He’s going to go all year around.”
Schultz did the same with football. Larson said when Schultz initially took that position, River Ridge had 28 eligible football players; This season, the program turned out more than 100.
The Hawks were undefeated during the regular season, and claimed their first Class 2A SPSL championship. They lost to North Kitsap in the first round of the 2A state playoffs.
“It’s taken some time, but we’re getting to a place where we’re hitting our stride,” Larson said. “He gets that you have to go down and start from the bottom.”
Schultz’s staff is rounded out by Will McGill, Jerry Madrid and Marlette Evans, who played for River Ridge when it won back-to-back state titles in 2007 and 2008.
“Everybody on the staff has roots in the community and has the same goal as I do — not just varsity and winning games, but the whole community project,” Schultz said.
His daughter, Makenna Schultz, a senior and The Olympian’s 2015 All-Area player of the year, anchors the young team, which is off to a 2-2 start.
The Hawks finished 17-11 last season, and were knocked out in the second round of the 2A state tournament by league rival White River, 39-38.
An offer to Otton
Tumwater High School’s Cade Otton announced this week via Twitter that he has been offered a full-ride scholarship to play football at Eastern Washington University.
This is the first formal offer that Otton, a 6-foot-5, 210-pound junior, has received.
Otton played an integral role on both sides of the ball this season for the T-Birds, who finished 13-1. Their only loss was in the 2A state championship game to Prosser.
At tight end, Otton hauled in 26 receptions for 500 yards and nine touchdowns. He also led Tumwater in tackles with 138 (105 solo), including 12 for losses.