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2017 Football: Cupboard Not Bare for Defending State Champs

Napavine’s Jordan Purvis (left) intercepts a pass during a drill in a preseason practice on Aug. 21.

2017 Football: Cupboard Not Bare for Defending State Champs

Yes, the Tigers are going to look a little different this year. The defending State 2B champions graduated their best offensive player (AP Player of the Year Wyatt Stanley), their best defensive player (SWW 2B Mountain Division Defensive MVP Austin Filley), and a slew of veteran starters.

To get it out of the way early: Are they as good as last year’s team?

“Time will tell. Right now, they’re not,” Napavine coach Josh Fay said. “But we’re doing some good things, so we’ll see how we progress. But I like where we’re at.”

That’s certainly not to say the cupboard’s bare, even if the offense isn’t likely to be throwing as often as it has been the last few years.

“I think everybody knows that’s probably going to drop,” Fay said. “but we’ve got to get Jordan Purvis (15 receiving touchdowns last year) the ball, and we’ve got to get Noah Lantz the ball in space. And the Gaona kid (Alex Gaona) has outstanding hands, so we’re really going to try to force ourselves to throw, probably a minimum of 15 times.

Napavine’s Randy Kinswa

“We’ll try to be in that 15 to 25 (pass attempts per game) range, but that’ll be predicated in what our quarterbacks are able to do,” he added.

Senior Randy Kinswa — a backup QB as a sophomore who moved to the offensive line last season — will take the snaps, though junior Dawson Stanley could see time depending on what angle the offense takes in certain situations. It’s not a revolutionary tactic; Napavine took a similar approach three years ago, with Wyatt Stanley in to pass and Brady Woodrum for running plays, and split time between Ty Lorton and Tucker Stanley a few years before that.

When they’re not throwing, Lantz — who racked up over 1,000 rushing and receiving yards last year — will run out of the slot, and Dawson Stanley and Cole VanWyck both return at running back.

Defensively, junior Jared McCollum (5-10, 160) takes over the middle linebacker role, a spot filled by Filley last year and Chase VanWyck the year before.

“We need big things out of him,” Fay said. “He never started last year, playing behind Filley, but he was our fourth-leading tackler last year, coming off the sidelines. But he doesn’t know how to quit. He just goes wide open.”

Stanley returns at linebacker, while junior Brett Bradshaw and freshman Tanner Lowe are in the mix for starting linebacker spots.

The big test, as it was last season, will be developing the offensive and defensive lines. Joel Ross started on the O-line last year and should see time both ways this year, and juniors Hayden Lester and Seth Harris and sophomore Nathan Watts are developing nicely, Fay said.

Speedy sophomore Draven Riddle, the aforementioned junior wide receiver Gaona and freshman receiver/defensive back Cade Evander have all shown promise early on, as well.

Even with a three-year streak of playing for a state title on the line, Fay said the expectations haven’t changed in his 11 years in Napavine.

“We’re going to try to be competitive and find a playoff spot,” he said, “and hope that we start peaking at the end of the year, and see if we can go back to where we want to go.”

It could be a tough road, he pointed out.

“The big thing is, like it or not, earned or not, there’s an awful big bullseye on our back, and there’s a lot of people who’d like to beat us,” Fay said. “Every time we go out and play on Friday, we’re going to get somebody’s best shot.”

Napavine Tigers

SWW 2B Mountain Division

Coach: Josh Fay (11th)

2016: 14-0 (state champions)

Returning Starters: Offense — Cole VanWyck (RB), Jordan Purvis (WR), Noah Lantz (WR/SB), Dawson Stanley (RB), Randy Kinswa (OL/QB), Joel Ross (OL); Defense: Jordan Purvis (DB), Garrett Shannon (DB), Noah Lantz (DB), Cole VanWyck (DB), Dawson Stanley (LB), Jared McCollum (LB)

9/1 at Raymond

9/9 Kalama

9/15 at Morton-White Pass

9/22 Onalaska

9/29 at Adna

10/6 Life Christian

10/13 at La Conner

10/20 at Rainier

10/27 Chief Leschi

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