Despite missing out on the postseason, the Seaside Football Gulls were one of the Cowapa Leagues most improved teams in 2012. And the Gulls plan on continuing that trend in 2013.
Were way ahead of where we were last year, said Seaside coach Jeff Roberts, early in the preseason. Last year was the initial year of a new system and a tremendous amount of learning, and I feel like were ahead of where I thought wed be. We had an unbelievable off-season. Our kids worked incredibly hard. And that, he hopes, will show in the win-loss column.
We dont walk on the field any more and just expect to compete, or try not to get blown out, he said. We expect to win every single game. Thats a significant attitude change in the last couple years, from what Seasides been known for.
Last year, people werent sure what to expect, and I think we exceeded a lot of expectations. I dont think were sneaking up on anybody this year.
Seaside had everything going its way the first five weeks of the 2012 season, from a season-opening 50-0 win over Warrenton, to a league-opening 37-7 victory over Tillamook.
The Gulls were 4-1 and on a roll. After that, however, Seaside lost three straight to Banks, Astoria and Scappoose, before finishing with a win over Yamhill-Carlton.
To make the state playoffs this year, Seaside will have to knock off one of the Cowapas Big Three the Fishermen, the Braves or the Indians.
A lot of hard work in the off-season just may get the Gulls the win theyre looking for.
Scappoose will be the team to beat, at least thats what everyone says, Roberts said. But well see. You have to line up and play the game. I feel real good about how we played them last year (a 28-13 Seaside loss). We were within four points until late in the game.
Banks was the one team we let get away from us, he said. We lost to Astoria by six in overtime, and we had every opportunity to win that game as they did.
Knowing we could compete in every single game last year really lifted their spirits and belief, Roberts said. Weve talked a lot this year about expecting to win. Thats been one of our themes, in everything we do.
Id be lying if I said that these kids cant win a league championship, he said. Thats our goal every year. We walk in and talk about winning a league championship. And I think we possess some of the tools to do that this year. If we dont, it wont be because of a lack of effort.
Seaside is one of the few teams in the Cowapa with a starter returning at quarterback, as Kevin LaCoste returns for his junior season.
Another junior is the best running back in the Cowapa, Calvin Pollard.
I think everyone is going to look at No. 44, Roberts said of Pollard. He proved last year as a sophomore that hes an incredible workhorse. He rushed for 1,300 yards and 17 touchdowns, so were excited about him being back.
Elsewhere, Aaron Tadei is moving from wide receiver to a wingback, he said. Kevin LaCoste is a junior, another year in the system as a quarterback. Nick Richardson has big shoes to fill in replacing Lucas Clark (first team offense and defense), but Nick has worked unbelievably hard in the offseason to be a team leader.
Senior Andrew Owens will also get his fair share of touches on offense.
From an offensive standpoint, we have three very athletic kids up the middle (center Daemon Didenti and guards Max Beaudoin and Levon Schehl), and they can run. With our offense, theyre pulling a lot and trying to get to the edge, and most people actually mistake them for fullbacks.
While high schools around the state (and the country) are changing over to fast-paced, spread offenses, Roberts said, Were not going to change what we do. I think well be able to throw the ball a little more than we did last year. But were not going to go and change things because its the offense du jour.
Defensively, we return seven starters, Roberts said. Calvin in the middle, and we have two big 300-pound defensive tackles (Trenton Shaw and Shawn Cobb).
Richardson is a defensive end, and our secondary will be second-to-none, said the coach. I expect big things from them. Aaron Tadei, Andrew Owens and Justin White are three of the starters. Justin Ruiz and LaCoste will add a lot of run support as well as defend the pass. Our defensive secondary is one of the strongest parts of our team.
Meanwhile, Seasides varsity coaching staff has made a commitment to being in the weight room, he said. Dan and Margie Leary have been a blessing, and I would attribute our success last year to them as much as anyone else.
Our kids believe in what we do. They believe in lining up and playing smashmouth football. Theres a general sense of excitement among not only the kids, but the community too.