Spring football practice begins

Published on Thu, Jun 9, 2011 by Jerry Huls

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Line coach Dave Fakkema instructs players during gap drills at spring practice on June 6. Photo by Jerry Huls

Parker Wallace ended his junior season as the backup quarterback to Zach Aiken on the Borderite junior varsity team. Myles Peltier quarterbacked the freshman team. With Aiken leaving the district to play football in Kansas, the No. 1 question as spring practices begin this week is: Who will be calling signals for the Borderite offense in 2011?

Wallace and Peltier have substantial shoes to fill. Despite the team’s .500 record last season, the Borderite offense was one of the most prolific in school history. Whoever wins the job will have to move into graduating senior Sean Allen’s spot. Allen leaves Blaine with almost every significant passing record in school history, including 28 touchdown passes last season. Allen was invited to walk on at Central Washington University and will meet the coaches this week.

“Wallace is playing quarterback but doesn’t have the No. 1 spot locked down,” said Blaine head football coach Jay Dodd. “He’s a good athlete with a good arm; he’s a leader who is dependable and willing to learn. But his footwork needs to improve, and this will take time.”

“We also have an outstanding sophomore in Peltier,” Dodd said. “He played quarterback on our freshman team last year, so he knows the footwork and has a good grasp of what we ask the quarterback to do. He has improved his strength and speed by working hard in the weight room this year.”

One of the positions that survived graduation is running back, where Mario Gobbato returns to start. Dodd said both Tyler Chau and Caleb Johnson will definitely get to carry the ball alongside Gobbato next season.

“Chau is big at 200-plus pounds and is just an animal in the weight room,” Dodd said. “He is one of the strongest players on our team. He’ll be a 300-pound bencher by the fall and runs a sub-5.0 40-yard dash. Johnson is also a bigger back – he’ll be 200-plus pounds as well.”

The graduation of all-conference wide receivers Todd Bird and Andrew Miller will hit the Borderite passing game hard. Dodd’s cupboard is not completely bare, however, as he will have the opportunity to throw to returning tight end Andrew Price. Price is such a force that he was considering abandoning his basketball career to focus solely on football. Several Pac-12 schools have shown interest in the speedy, 6-foot-7 junior, who has some of the best hands in the conference. The replacements for Bird and Miller, however, are less clear.

“Those spots are up for grabs,” Dodd said. “We have about 25 wide receivers who are all working hard and learning the basics. Tyler Kelly stands out right now. He’s smart and reliable, and he’ll be directing traffic when it comes to getting other wide receivers lined up and in the right spots.”

Attrition included the loss of talented standouts such as Channing Crews, but the offensive line is expected to be sound.
“Offensive line is a position we are very excited about,” Dodd said. “We have four returners, but that doesn’t mean they’ll all be starting, or starting in the same positions. We will find the five best run-blocking offensive lineman, and those five will make up our line. It may look the same as last year, or it might not.”

Defense is where experience will be needed. Last season, offense ran roughshod over the Borderites, particularly in the middle. A year of experience will help soon-to-be seniors, such as Eddie Avena and James Fakkema.

“We’re changing the scheme a little bit to fit our personnel better,” Dodd said of his defense. “Our new scheme will also allow players to play more aggressively and think less.”

Spring practices began June 1 and culminate in a scrimmage game against New Westminster, B.C., at 6 p.m. on Thursday, June 9, at Borderite Field.

The Borderites begin the 2011 campaign with a game against Renton’s 3A Hazen at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, September 3, at Qwest Field in Seattle. The Borderites’ first home game will be the following Friday against Squalicum.
Top right: Blaine football players Tyler Peterson (13) and Ephraim Westbrook (89) face off in a receiving drill during spring football practice on Monday, June 6 at Blaine high school. Photo by Jerry Huls