After graduating some key players this May, Kalama football coach Sean McDonald is focused on training his young team to win a championship.
“We have a lot of guys stepping up into big roles. A lot of sophomores are stepping up. We have around six starting. It’s younger than usual, but it’ll be good. They really come after the ball,” McDonald said.
McDonald is in his fifth season as head coach and is looking to bring a fourth state title to the school.
He had 12 wins during the 2018 season.
“The goal this year is to battle for the championship. We’re young this year, but it’s always our goal. I think that’s what we’ll be doing,” McDonald said.
Senior linebacker Sutton Moon said he liked having a young team. By letting a group of sophomores start this year, by the time they are seniors, they will have a good handle on the plays and techniques.
“They are still young. They have two more years after us, but if you get them in good habits, get them used to offense and everything I think we’ll do well. We have a new quarterback this year, and he’s young but he’s going to do fine,” Moon said.
Sophomore Jackson Esary is stepping up as the Chinooks’ new quarterback this year.
“Our original starting quarterback transferred to Westview in Oregon. But we have Jackson Esary, and he can play every sport. He’s really good at it. I believe he can do a good job,” Moon said.
“Jackson Esary is a tough one to stop,” McDonald added.
Both Moon and McDonald said the lack of older players will not impact the team too negatively. With the younger guys the Chinooks might have a new edge on old competition.
“The Toledo matchup is always tough. For in-league games, they’re the biggest competition. Out of league competition is Woodland. We need to find that new group of guys to step up. Half the team is players who played high school football for the first time last year,” McDonald said.
Just because they are a team filled with starting sophomores doesn’t mean you should count Kalama out.
The players have been running summer workouts and training camps for the past few weeks to prepare for the official start of the season.
“People are counting us out but we’re underdogs. We need to all buy in and let the hard work pay off. I look forward to the Woodland game. It’s going to be fun. It’s always fun. Hopefully we can beat them,” Moon said.
“The biggest focus this year is growth, mental growth. We’ll have a similar offensive line. We have tough running backs so you might see us run the ball more. We’re looking tough this year,” McDonald said.