Sports

"Without horses, Trojans must rebuild"

"The Olympic Trojans have gotten used to looking around the practice field and not seeing many big, strong-looking guys in their midst.What will be different, when the Trojans look around this fall, is that there won't be some of the familiar faces they've come to count on.Are we there yet? I'd say no, shrugs first-year coach Pete Weymiller, an assistant under Dave Rastovski, who stepped down last November after taking Troy to the Narrows League playoffs as the third-place finisher in the Bridge Division.We've got a lot of guys with a lot of heart, and we'll form the nucleus of our team around those guys, Weymiller says. But as far as being at a competitive level with some of the other teams, we've got a ways to go.Under Rastovski last year, the undersized Trojans overachieved their way into the league playoffs - where their shortcomings were exploited by a much bigger, more physical Capital team to the tune of 48-0.But Rastovski didn't exactly get his team to 5-4 in the Bridge Division with smoke and mirrors. He had some weapons on that team, including linebacker Junior Coffin, who now toils for the University of Washington; running back Harold Powell, now at Central Washington; lineman Justin Breckel, on a wrestling ride at Missouri Valley College; and mighty-mite quarterback Ozzie Saxon, who at last report was set to wrestle at North Idaho.There might be that type of leaders on the practice field this fall at Oly - in fact, Weymiller is sure there are.Going into last night's nonleague contest at perennial power Bethel, however, they weren't exactly coming out of the woodwork. Past seniors Joe Page - an imposing (6-foot-5, 280 pounds) presence on both lines - and Ariel Sanchez - a hard-hitting defensive back who also will play wide receiver this season - the leadership hierarchy has yet to sort itself out.There are a whole bunch of sophomores, says Weymiller, who retained two of the stalwarts from Rastovski's staff, Carlton Cooper and Jim Lindberg. I wouldn't say we've got superstars, but they're guys who give you steady, consistent performances. They do what you want them to do.It's like a shortstop in baseball, who might not make that spectacular play, but can handle the routine stuff, Weymiller says. That's what we want out of these kids right now, is to make the routine plays consistently. Then we'll go from there.Going into the Bethel game, Weymiller still wasn't sure which of his two candidates would emerge as the starting quarterback. Three weeks of turnouts hadn't shown him much in the way of difference, quality-wise, between senior Chris Ebert and junior Will Gratz.All I can say is, there's gonna be one guy, Weymiller said of the Ebert-Gratz battle. The guys need to have one leader, to hear the same voice every play if we're going to be consistent.Of that horde of sophomores, Weymiller had special words for defensive backs Ryan Butts and brothers Jerrell and Andri Nelson, as well as Jordan Duncan.They've got the makings, he says, of what he could build a pretty good team around a little farther down the road.This year, though, the Bridge is going to be a hard division in which to make much hay by leaning heavily on sophomores. We've had some great performances in practice, he says. A lot of guys have shown us flashes of their potential. We're starting to get more confidence, and when they do that, they're going to be successful.How long will that take? Weymiller can only shake his head. Just like Rome wasn't built in a day, seldom has a playoff contender been rebuilt in a single season. "

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