Coach Jim Fisk has had the same reply every year when he has been asked to comment on performance of his Chewelah Cougar football team at the pre-season jamboree. Last Monday’s comments were no different.
“We have a lot to work on and little time to get it done,” said Fisk. “We have practices on Tuesday and Wednesday, our pre-game practice on Thursday, and our first game of the season against Deer Park on Friday. That doesn’t give us much time to fix things.”
Fortunately, Deer Park’s football team is locked into the same time frame as the Stags prepare to come to Snyder Field for Friday’s season opener. They have had the same three days to improve.
As usual, the jamboree gave Fisk and his staff an opportunity to evaluate the play of all of their ballplayers in a simulated game situation. They were also able to determine what worked well and what did not. Then, they had Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s afternoon workouts to concentrate on needed changes and improvements.
Of course, Fisk’s scripted play list included only the basic formations and plays on offense. Defensive alignments and stunts were also limited to the basics. The Cougars will play all three of the other teams that participated in the jamboree during the upcoming season, starting with Deer Park this Friday night. They will meet Riverside and Lakeside in league play.
Most prospective starters for Friday night’s home opener played in only half of the jamboree. That gave the rest of the Cougars ample time on the field to impress their coaches. Their performances will help the coaches make decisions concerning battles for different positions on both sides of the ball. In other words, a player’s position on the depth chart may have changed since Monday evening.
One noticeable change for Chewelah was its return to a four-three defense.
“Our personnel this year is better suited for playing a four-three,” said Fisk.
Another change seen Monday evening was the moving of senior Ben Johnstone to the strong side linebacker. He was the Cougar middle linebacker last year.
Also notable was the appearance of senior lineman Stephen Zerr along the Cougar sideline at the jamboree. He missed the first two weeks of practices, so he will not be eligible to play in this Friday’s game. Time will tell how long it will take him to work his way back into the lineup.
Joining Zerr on the sideline was senior lineman Austin Heine, who has sustained a possible season-ending shoulder injury. Finding someone to fill his spot in the line was one of Fisk’s Monday night goals.
The probable starting lineup for the Cougars will be: Chris Lambert at center, Dustin Olson and Jamie Olson at the guards, Adam Collins and Sam Cobb at the tackles, Caleb Wiebe and Mason Miller at the wide receivers, Ben Johnstone and Dustin Crowell in the slots, Cordell Bean at runningback, and Derek Smith at quarterback.
The Cougars will play six of their ten games at home this season. They start with pre-season games against Deer Park this Friday night and at Colville the following Friday. Then, they travel to Lakeside for their first league encounter on September 7.
The Northeast A League will be a seven-team conference this year with the loss of Colville and the additions of Medical Lake and Kettle Falls.
Season passes for individuals and families are now available at the Jenkins High School office.
Kickoff time at Snyder Field is set for 7:00 p.m. on Friday night.
By Geno Ludwig, The Independent Staff
In This Photo: Riverside’s quarterback gets “air” with a hard hit by Ben Johnstone knocking his pass off its mark! The Cougars played the preseason jamboree at Deer Park on Monday, August 27. Kimberlyn Johnstone photo