The new football season will begin this Friday night at Snyder Field when the Chewelah Cougars host the Bridgeport Mustangs from the Central Washington 2B League.
Although this is a non-league encounter, the game is important to the Cougars, who will unveil their new triple-option offense to home fans who did not attend last Friday’s jamboree at Deer Park.
Now that the offense has been unveiled, the Cougars plan to unleash it. And, Bridgeport is the first intended victim.
The Cougars want to open their season with a win, just like last year’s 25-0 victory over Priest River. This Friday night will give them their initial opportunity to add the first W to their 2016 record.
Hopefully, the new Chewelah offense and restructured defense will be just as much of a surprise to Bridgeport as it was to Deer Park and Lakeside at last week’s jamboree. The Cougars battled the Stags to a draw. Then, they outscored the Eagles. In other words, it was a good outing.
The new offense is not strictly a triple-option format. Yes, the Cougars will run the option play to both sides of center and at every hole along the offensive front. As of Friday, they had the basics of the option play rehearsed in elementary form. It will take a lot more repetition and fine-tuning to make it lethal. That is especially true now that it has been debuted and future opponents will prepare to defend against it.
The plays coming off the option, however, were the most dramatic and the most effective. The quick-toss and counter plays provided the pepperoni on the pizza. Both were well-executed, with speedsters Jensen Holloway and Payton Danly gaining lengthy yardage.
Now, be aware that the Cougars have not scrapped their passing attack in favor of the option offense. Their double-wing formation still allows for four receivers. A significant fact from Friday night is that Cougar quarterback Elan Krausz threw three touchdown passes against Lakeside. He also had another throw dropped in the endzone against Deer Park. Two of those touchdown catches were grabbed by Griffin Stroyan. The third was caught by Sam Smith.
Sophomore Kaden Mackowiak was the evening’s Cougar fullback, and he did fine for his first time in the varsity backfield. He had some nice runs up the middle on the dive aspect of the triple-option.
One piece of advice for Cougar fans is to keep your eyes on wide angle this Friday night against Bridgeport. Like Deer Park and Lakeside, you may have difficulty finding who is packing the pigskin.
The biggest surprise of the jamboree was the Chewelah offensive line. It had been cobbled together during the week as Coach Hogan moved players around from one position to another to put together the best O-line possible.
He would probably agree that they did better than expected, with much improvement forthcoming, especially when it comes to pass protection.
Having an excess of receivers, Conner Krouse and Dakota Kroiss were two experienced players moved to the forward wall. Other veteran players may follow this week. Adam Gray, Robbie Hopkins, and Isaac Hall were Chewelah’s starters in the interior line.
On the defensive side of the ball, Chewelah’s revamped three-four alignment looked good on its maiden voyage. There was a strong pass rush that notched quarterback sacks against both Deer Park and Lakeside, along with several spotlight individual performances.
At times, however, the Cougar defensive front had a soft middle against larger opposing linemen when inside linebackers did not provide immediate support. In addition, work needs to continue on containment against the sweep.
Those insecurities should be resolved by Friday night.
The Chewelah secondary played exceptionally well, allowing few pass receptions and providing strong support against the run.
This Friday’s game against Bridgeport will be the first of four consecutive home games for the Cougars. The rest will be on the road. Game time against the Mustangs at Snyder Field is 7 p.m.
Bridgeport is a town in Douglas County and is part of the Wenatchee Metropolitan area. Despite having a population close to Chewelah’s – 2,409 people – the school did not have enough kids for a football team last year.
The Bridgeport Mustangs consist of one senior – the only player on the squad that has played high school football – five juniors, eight sophomores and nine freshmen.
The last time the Mustangs had a team was in 2014 when they went 2-7 overall and 1-5 in the Central Washington 2B league. In nine games they posted 102 points while allowing 291.
The team posted victories over Soap Lake (13-9) and Liberty Bell (26-21).
By Geno Ludwig/The Independent Staff