WARRENTON - Astoria boys golf coach Dan Foss wants his team to "enjoy the journey" this year, as the Fishermen kicked off their home season Monday afternoon in a best ball tournament at the Astoria Golf & Country Club.

Where that journey ends up is anybody's guess, but right now, the Fishermen appear ready to reel in some lofty goals this year.

The 2003 journey started with the Tillamook Scramble March 20, where Astoria took second behind the Cheesemakers

The Fishermen posted their first team win of the season Monday, as Astoria's No. 1 group of Digger Cokley and James Green teamed up for a 34-35-69 best ball score to lead the Fishermen.

Astoria finished with a 226 team score, with Crescent Valley (237) 11 strokes off the pace. Other teams competing included Ilwaco (258), Seaside (270), Banks (295) and Rainier (346).

Ilwaco's duo of David Thorne and Peter Gaynor were second (75) behind Cokley and Green, followed by Astoria's Ben Wintermute and Ryan Walsh (76) and Crescent Valley's tandem of Brad Knoke and Drew Forbes (76).

The victory was satisfying for Foss and the Fishermen, but there's no doubt that rough waters lay ahead for Astoria, in the form of a tough 2003 schedule.

There's the addition of defending state champion Tillamook to the Cowapa League, coupled with just two more home appearances for the Fishermen in their remaining eight matches, not including districts, which will be held at Quail Valley and Gearhart Links this year.

Tillamook - which did not compete in Monday's best ball - returns two starters from its state championship team of 2002, including Matt Marcum, who won the Oregon Golf Association's Junior Tournament of Champions Oct. 12.

"And then they bring in the freshman Marcum boy (Dylan Marcum)," Foss said. "They're definitely a team to be reckoned with.

"Scappoose had a coaching change and they return four sophomore starters," he said. "I thought they would contend, but the number I saw at Tillamook (Indians finished last, 37 shots behind Banks) was down. I think it's between us and Tillamook at this point in the season. We'll see what happens down there Thursday. The weather can be kind of cool."

After competing at the Beaverton Invitational Wednesday - a tournament filled with Class 4A schools - the Fishermen have a dual meet at Tillamook Thursday.

Astoria's list of returners starts with Cokley, the defending 3A state champion.

Cokley enters his junior season with high hopes, not just individually, but for the team.

There are junior James Green, who transferred in from Knappa; and also looking to compete with the top flight are senior Ryan Walsh (all-league last year, state participant), junior Ben Wintermute (sixth at 2002 district tournament), sophomore Ryan Gallagher (ninth at districts), and senior Jae Kim (13th at districts).

"Digger played year round," Foss said. "And Walsh has played a lot and cut his strokes down tremendously. Green cuts our stroke count by eight right away. This wave of talent doesn't come through a small school very often."

Adding depth to the Astoria team will be juniors Greg Barnes and Erick Wisti, sophomore Frank Febus and freshman Johnnie Wilson.

"The potential is definitely there," Foss said. "The guys are excited. I hope it works out for them. I think they realize their potential - they just have to go out there and get it.

"We have some big goals - I'm excited to see if they can get them," he said. "If they get one special goal, I'll let you know. It will be pretty awesome if they can - we probably won't even have to announce it.

"I just want the guys to have fun and enjoy the ride. The goals are there - now we just have to enjoy the journey."


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