We all know how the 2018 season finished. A loss in the fog, to the Banks Braves. What can Seaside football do for an encore in 2019?

Whatever the Gulls do this year, the 2018 Gulls will be a tough act to follow. First of all, the 2019 team will have to do it with a new coach, as Aaron Tanabe replaces Jeff Roberts.

Also among the missing: one all-league quarterback, two all-league running backs and four all-league offensive linemen on one side of the ball, and a couple of more all-leaguers on defense.

Last year, the Gulls were at home for seven of their first 10 games, until the state semifinals. The 2019 schedule has Seaside on the road for four of its final six regular season games, with contests at Gladstone, Astoria and Banks.

The stars were certainly aligned for last year's magical season. The road doesn't look as smooth for Tanabe's first season.

With the graduation of 11 seniors, Tanabe's list of key returners is a short one.

“Brayden Johnson (Sr., WR/DB), David Toyooka (Sr., OL/DL), Luke Nelson (Sr., OL/DL) and Levi Card (Sr., TE/LB)," Tanabe said.

If there's any more, “We'll find out when the pads go on,” he said. “We expect our kids to block, get off blocks and tackle, and to play fast, physical and fearless. The rest will take care of itself.”

The league lineup looks the same as it did a year ago, with Astoria, Banks, Molalla, Seaside, Tillamook and Valley Catholic.

The Braves and the Gulls were the only Cowapa League teams with overall winning records in 2018. Qualifying for the playoffs out of the Cowapa … was not much of a problem. Astoria and Tillamook tied with 4-5 overall records but both made the play-in round, as did Molalla, which finished 1-4 in league, 2-7 overall. All three lost by narrow margins in the play-in round, while Banks and Seaside advanced to the all-Cowapa League state championship.

“We expect it to be competitive,” Tanabe said. “There are good coaches and good athletes in this league.”

Gary Henley is a sports reporter for The Astorian. Contact him at 503-861-8493 or ghenley@dailyastorian.com.

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