With a new head coach on the field, the Woodland High School football team is expecting to be tougher, edgier and unpredictable this season. New head coach Garrett Lutgen is putting a focus on the people that make up the team and how they can work together to come out on top.
“We pride ourselves on being competitive. We pride ourselves on being a team. I wouldn’t say we have any stars. It’s just a team of really good, solid kids. I’m proud of the people they are first and foremost. If we can go out and compete on the football field, that’s second,” Lutgen said.
Lutgen has his sights set on using one solid team to battle for the top spot in the league. Last year, the only league game Woodland lost was to Hockinson. This season they are hoping to top a few of the tougher schools in the league.
“I would say we’ve got a couple teams to beat. Hockinson being the obvious one. Washougal’s got a great team. Columbia River is going to be tough. Ridgefield is going to be tough. The league is a tough league. There’s some teams that are going to put up some resistance,” Lutgen said.
The first game the Beavers play this season is against their rival, the Kalama Chinooks. After beating the Chinooks last year 48-40, Lutgen said the team is taking this season week by week.
“I think we are Game 1 focused. Our goal is 1-and-0 every week. We’re gunning for Kalama,” Lutgen said.
To keep pace with last year’s 8-1 performance in league games, the team is planning to work harder together, senior Isaiah Flanagan said.
“I feel like it’s going to more of a team production because we just have to be that way this year. It’s the grit and the grind. Doing what needs to be done on the field,” Flanagan said.
Senior linebacker Hunter Smith also echoed this goal.
“A team goal of mine is a winning record, which I think we can achieve that pretty easily,” he said.
Lutgen said to achieve this he wants to realign how they play as a team. In the last few years, the Beavers have heavily relied on a few strong players. This year the focus is more on being a strong, unified team.
“We have an opportunity to be a more balanced team especially on offense. We have an opportunity to be a tougher team on defense. We have a tendency to lean on one guy. We don’t have any really superstars; we have a bunch of good solid kids. I’m really excited about the prospect of distributing the ball equally and being unpredictable,” Lutgen said.
With the goal to fly under the radar and the team working as one solid unit, Lutgen’s first year will be one to watch.
“We have to go out and compete. Never give up, go balls to the wall every play,” Flanagan said. “You want to leave it out on the field. You want to leave everything you have.”