Sports

Olympic benefits from a year to grow on

"Pete Weymiller knows his Olympic High School football team is farther along than it should be expected to be.He's just not too crazy about the reasons why.Last year was tough, says Weymiller, who enters the second year of his OHS coaching tenure after a 2-7 debut in 2000. We had to get through a lot of stuff, but we should be a better team for it this year.Injuries forced Weymiller to make starters out of several younger players last fall. And, while those players were talented enough to answer the bell, they would've benefitted from another year of practicing, watching ... and, well, growing.Y2K's star attraction, sophomore running back Jarrell Nelson, probably fibbed his weight up to 135 before he was thrown to the Wolves, and Vikings, and Cougars, and all the other Narrows League Bridge Division animals. The starting quarterback at the end of 2000 (because of a season-ending injury to Chris Ebert), Will Gratz, will bring that experience back with him when he recovers from a broken cheekboneThe injuries, the inexperience and the size disadvantages at key positions worked not only on the depth chart, but on the Trojans' collective psyche. By season's end, they simply were worn out.Now they're rejuvenated, older and wiser. Nelson, bulked up 10 pounds and possessed of some impressive athletic skills, still will be the poster boy, but the supporting cast is there, too.Our guys were more determined in the offseason about getting in the weight room, Weymiller says, and we're seeing some benefits of that.Mentally, I think you have to go through what we went through last year, he adds. These guys are believers now. They got through last year, and with the (spring and summer) work they've done, they're confident. They're more in their comfort zone.Olympic has better depth than in Weymiller's kickoff season, and in many cases he's deep in players with pretty significant varsity experience. At the running back position, Steve Dillon, Zach Curry and Luke Switzer all were heavily used, and several other runners were in for quite a few snaps, as well.We're a lot better off in the depth department, Weymiller says. And we're in better shape, too. Our strength, speed and conditioning all are better. And we're hitting harder - the guys are starting to realize how fast and strong they are.The end result is confidence. The Trojans have had their baptism by fire, which included a thrilling 33-13 upset of Peninsula that sent the Seahawks' season into a tailspin; they've done their offseason work (including a team camp in Bellingham); they're familiar with Weymiller's system.Now, he says, they can just go out and play football. The confidence in themselves and the system is what they didn't have last year, and 90 percent of this game is confidence.I've been impressed by how they've handled it when things haven't necessarily gone right, he says. Not by panicking, but by rallying and by saying to themselves, 'Hey, we've got to get better.' "

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