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2017 Football: Rochester Trying to Rebound From Winless Season

Rochester’s Bryce Lollar passes during practice.

2017 Football: Rochester Trying to Rebound From Winless Season

Following a 2016 football campaign without a win, the Rochester Warriors football team enters the 2017 season with a new head coach and a blank slate to make some noise in the Evergreen 2A Conference.

Mark Smith coached the Warriors last season, and lost all nine games by an average of 32 points.

John Moorhead is the new head coach, and will try to keep opposing team’s on their heels after working as the defense and special teams coordinator at Steilacoom the last two seasons. Steilacoom defeated Tumwater in the Thunderbirds’ only regular-season loss last year.

“We’re doing a lot of things a first year program has to do, working on finishing drills, the mental preparation outside of it,” Moorhead said. “For first year, we’re feeling OK about where we’re at.”

With three coaches in three years, Moorhead knows it will take some time for his team to learn his system, but says the Warriors are picking it up quickly.

Rochester’s Bryce Lollar

“We take things out that we don’t understand or can’t do, and we’ve kind of had to mold it more to our kids more so than defense. That hasn’t really changed throughout the course. We may be a little ahead on defense because of that,” Moorhead said. “We’ve kind of chopped down the offense to a short number of plays that we can be successful at. I’ve had to do a lot more work on offense, personally.”

Moorhead’s coaching philosophy has three key points, and he is seeing the players slowly buy into the message.

“We kind of have a whole laundry list of things, the building blocks working up to where we want our kids to be at. Our end goal we want our kids to do is to play fast, be physical and finish,” Moorhead said. “When we’re watching a game, are you being physical, which is a mental aspect. You want to go out and compete and you want to beat the guy across from you. Playing fast is knowing what you’re doing, and finishing is just about your effort, so that’s our end goal.”

Following a winless season, Moorhead knows he has to bring up the confidence of his players and get them to believe in themselves to help the team win games.

“I explained to them when we first came in (to Steilacoom), we weren’t ready to do anything. Like you guys, they had a great amount of talent, so talking them through this is what it was like there and this is how it turned out,” Moorhead said. “They’ve (coaches) all been confident in in terms of how they talk about those guys, how they coach them and what we’re looking for. Let’s coach you up, this is how you do it right, next play, just kind of have that progression. Also, in terms of getting them to feel they are worthy of success, is conversations. When kids drop a ball and hang their head, it’s just a drop ball, it’s gonna happen.”

The Evergreen 2A Conference is going to be tough once again this season. Moorhead’s first coaching job was with W.F. West coach Bob Wollan in Pullman, and Moorhead knows the Bearcats and the rest of the conference will not be easy wins.

“Having coached under Wollan at Pullman, I know the type of program he runs. He was the coach here (Rochester) when they were successful, he was successful at Pullman,” Moorhead said. “It’s the same down there. You’re going to have to do a lot to out-coach a guy like that and his players are going to play hard.”

“I know a lot about those programs, as I research. If you’re doing pretty good against these two teams (Tumwater and W.F. West), you’ve got to be doing something well,” Moorhead said. “When you play those two programs and you’ve got Black Hills, Centralia, teams that have had success, you know that it’s a strong league when you play really good people all the time.”

When it comes to judging a successful 2017 campaign, Moorhead has a few things that he believes will achieve success.

“We would like to get better each week instead of staying at the same level or taking any sort of mental digression,” Moorhead said. “If we can work through the season and get better toward the end, we will call it a success and keeping numbers. If we start with 27, our goal is to finish with 27… a lot of the goals will start in the offseason.”

Rochester Warriors

Evergreen 2A Conference

Coach: John Moorhead (1st)

2016: 0-9 (missed playoffs)

Returning Starters: Offense — Bryce Lollar (QB), Ben Slaymaker (FB), Gerardo Carpio (RB), Enrique Sanchez (RB), Tyler Soderback (WR), Patrick Riley (WR); Defense — Ben Slaymaker (LB), Gerardo Carpio (LB), Steve Robinson (DB), Tyler Soderback (CB), Patrick Riley (CB), Bryce Lollar (FS)

9/1 at Tenino

9/8 Hudson’s Bay

9/15 at Charles Wright

9/22 Montesano

9/29 Elma

10/6 at W.F. West

10/13 at Centralia

10/20 at Aberdeen

10/27 Black Hills

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