MONTESANO — With the anticipation of a new school year, people are starting to talk about Montesano High School. And its not just about the new paint selected for the exterior of the school — it’s about football.
Montesano athletes are already warming up for the new football season. And with the spectacular year the Bulldogs experienced in 2012 — taking the 1A state football championship over Eastern Washington’s Royal City Knights, 43-28, training camp starts with pop and hustle in and around the gridiron.
The athletes “are focusing on the process, being the best football players they can be,” said head coach Terry Jensen about the 77 players who have turned out this year.
Being the defending 1A state champions, one would think there might be additional pressure on the head coach.
The team has “already talked about that. Some of the guys playing this year were part of that and they should enjoy that. But the trophy is on the shelf and this is a new year,” Jensen said.
Even if the coach is a little hesitant to make any predictions about the year, some of the senior athletes understand their position on the team, the expectations, and are looking to place their best foot forward at the start of a new season.
Kenny Roy, who played the offensive line and linebacker last season, looks to continue his work on the offense as one of the Bulldog tight ends.
“As a senior I feel I should be a leader, both on and off the field,” Roy said.
Working on his skills during the summer, Roy feels more confident this year.
Jake Massoth has been working both sides of the line, but really enjoys playing nose guard.
“It’s like you are on your own, trying to beat three guys,” Massoth said.
Even with the words from their head coach, both players have a sense of reality about the season.
“There is additional pressure because everyone wants to play us this year,” Massoth said. “We are not just the Montesano Bulldogs; we are the defending state champion Montesano Bulldogs. So we have to come out and prove it.”
Knowing the rhythm of practice, the athletes feel the year has started with more intensity as daily practice runs with the common two-a-day drills.
“We know it will not be any different than the past six to seven years,” Jensen said. “People will gun for us, but we accept that. We know we have a bull’s-eye on us. Teams want to say that they beat us. We will make a lot of teams’ seasons if they beat us, and we understand that, but we are not thinking about that.”
The first test of the team will come at the seventh annual Montesano football jamboree, this year hosted by the Elma Eagles at 6 p.m. on Sept. 2 at Davis Stadium.
Teams participating in the preseason kickoff to football will be Montesano, Elma, Tenino and Centralia.
The jamboree is the equivalent of preseason matchups, where players get the feel of full contact with an opposing team. For coaches, it is a time to see what is and is not working. It’s also where they decide how and who to fill critical positions.
With Davis Field split in half, both junior varsity and varsity squads will run a total of 20 plays (10 offensive, 10 defensive), starting from the 40-yard line. The emphasis is not to see how much one can score against another team, but to put into play what has been practiced so far this season.
The jamboree gives the teams one last chance to make changes before the first game of the season on Sept. 6. Elma starts its season with a visit to Hoquiam, and Montesano will be just up the road in Aberdeen. Both games start at 7 p.m.