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Football: Seaside: New owners of the Cowapa League?

By Gary Henley

The Daily Astorian

Published on August 30, 2018 8:42AM

Last changed on August 30, 2018 10:18AM

Named after Walter Payton, Seaside’s Payton Westerholm is the class of Cowapa League quarterbacks.

Gary Henley/The Daily Astorian

Named after Walter Payton, Seaside’s Payton Westerholm is the class of Cowapa League quarterbacks.

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One of three Offensive Players of the Year in the Cowapa League last season, Alexander Teubner is Seaside’s breakaway running back looking for an even bigger season in 2018.

Gary Henley/The Daily Astorian

One of three Offensive Players of the Year in the Cowapa League last season, Alexander Teubner is Seaside’s breakaway running back looking for an even bigger season in 2018.

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With state championships in boys basketball, cross country and golf over the last five years, the Seaside Gulls are looking to add another banner from another sport to the school gym. And football would be a logical place to start.

Seaside football spent almost all of the 2017 season ranked in the top 10, and entered the state playoffs ranked fifth before a 43-39 loss to Henley in the first round.

The Gulls are out to settle a few scores this season, including their loss to the Hornets. Seaside and Henley kick off the 2018 season this Friday, the Game of the Week on opening night at the 4A level.

The Seaside players?

“They’re hungry,” said head coach Jeff Roberts. “We made it a point of scheduling Henley. That (playoff loss) left a bad taste in our mouth. Henley beat us, and our hat’s off to them. But right now, we’re looking at August 31st. We’ve had that one circled on our calendar since we scheduled it. We’re excited to play them again. I appreciate their willingness to give us another chance.”

It doesn’t stop there for the Gulls, who travel to Eugene in Week 2 to face Marist. They host Gladstone Sept. 14.

“We wanted to make the schedule as difficult as we could,” Roberts said. Mission accomplished.


THE COWAPA


With first-place Scappoose out of the picture (the Indians have moved to the 5A level), every team in the Cowapa League is free to move up one spot in the standings. For the Gulls, that means second to first.

Seaside’s only league loss of 2017 came to the Indians in week 1. That was followed by convincing wins over Astoria (40-0), Valley Catholic (62-0) and Tillamook (54-23), and ended with a 19-14 win over Banks at Broadway Field.

This year’s game vs. Banks (Oct. 12) will be the biggest league meeting of the season, and in a big scheduling break for the Gulls, the Braves will come to Seaside for the second year in a row.

“Banks will be hungry to get us,” Roberts said. “I’m just thankful that we get them at our place again. I don’t know that our schedule could have worked out any better for our home games. The Clatsop Clash and Banks are both here, so that worked out in our favor.”

The absence of Scappoose “certainly changes the dynamics of the league,” he said. “For a lot of years, teams were playing for second place. That’s not the case any more. The Cowapa can still be one of the most difficult leagues, from top to bottom, but I’d be lying if I didn’t think we were a contender for one of those guaranteed playoff spots.”


THE GULLS


The reason Seaside will be in contention: Eight all-league returners should have the Gulls winning right away in 2018.

Included are two all-league offensive lineman, and the return of possibly the league’s best quarterback/running back tandem. For an offense that runs the Wing-T, that could take Seaside a long way.

Alexander Teubner — one of three Offensive Players of the Year in the Cowapa last season — will take handoffs from all-league quarterback Payton Westerholm, and follow the blocks of Travis Fenton and Isaias Jantes.

“We’re excited to have a bunch of guys back,” Roberts said. “We finished the regular season ranked No. 5 in the state, and a lot of those kids are back. We have some skill players and we return three offensive linemen, so that’s good. Defensively we’re in good shape, so I’m excited about that. The kids worked their tails off in the weight room all summer.”

And there are players on the roster who know what it’s like to win state championships.

“I attribute a lot of our success last year to the basketball program, what Bill (Westerholm) has done, and that culture of winning,” Roberts said. “When these kids were sophomores, they got beat up pretty good on the football field.

“They’ve grown and matured a lot. They’re back in a system they’re comfortable with and excited about. This is a group that’s been running this offense since they were in the fourth and fifth grade.”

And, “we’re going to stay pretty true to what we do, but you’ll see some things with Alexander and Brayden Johnson, and with our stable of running backs and Payton, we have an opportunity to do some different things.

“One of our strengths is team speed, and I don’t want to have to rely on Alexander to carry the ball 25 times a game. We have a lot of other weapons.”

And if he has to, Westerholm can air it out.

“He threw for more yards last year than they gained in all of 2015,” Roberts said.

Of the linemen, “one of the kids who has really emerged as a leader is (center) Travis Fenton. He has really dedicated himself to being a leader in the program. All the guys on the offensive line … those are the guys who are going to win it for us. Left tackle Derrick Bennett, left guard Dylan Meyer, Jantes at right guard, and Paxson VanNortwick at right tackle.”


THE COACH


“I’ve made it public now that this is it for me,” said Roberts, the high school’s principal who will step down as football coach after this season. “Aaron (Tanabe) will take over next year. This will give me an opportunity to go out with these kids. I’ve known them for a long time, and when the opportunity presented itself, I felt like I owed it to them to finish with them.”

Prediction: Gulls will send Roberts out with a league championship, and hopefully a whole lot more.

SEASIDE FOOTBALL

Coach: Jeff Roberts, 2nd year (6th overall)

2017: 6-3 (4-1 Cowapa)

Playoffs: Lost to Henley in first round, 39-43

All-league losses: Michael Bailey, Dawson Blanchard, Cameron King, Garrett Kiser, Parker Moore, Skyler Yoshino.

All-league returners: Travis Fenton, Sr., Isaias Jantes, Sr., Brayden Johnson, Jr., Gio Ramirez, Sr., Alex Teubner, Sr., Duncan Thompson, Sr., Paxson VanNortwick, Sr., Payton Westerholm, Sr.



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