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Rainier-Clatskanie-Football team preview

Rainier's Joey Tripp, right, leaps in front of Clatskanie's Jake Bruce to intercept a pass in the end zone during Rainier's 18-7 victory in the 2018 OSAA 3A State quarterfinals.

After losing key players to graduation, the Clatskanie Tigers are looking to fill the holes left on the field this season. With head coach Tim Warren coming back for his ninth season, he is hoping to redeem the team after losing in the quarter finals last year.

“We’ve got some holes to fill no doubt. But we’re excited. Winning the league, that’s the goal every year. We have that opportunity this year,” Warren said.

Even though the team lost star players such as Cooper Blodgett and Bryce Puckett, Warren said he’s expecting this year’s seniors to step up in a big way.

“James Helmen is going to be a factor, Cedrix Heath is going to be a factor, Sam Shockley, who is great defensive player. Up front we have Cade Warren, Mitchell Hopstad, Timber Zea, Sterling Bruce… we have lots of them,” Warren said.

With the large amount of returners, Warren said he’s not too worried about filling the gaps, just that there is work to bed done.

“Defensively we need to be better on getting us off the field, 3 down management stuff. I think from the defensive stand point the holes we have to fill are the biggest but the kids we have back are super talented. The whole offensive line is back.” Warren said.

James Helmen, who plays as both quarterback and linebacker, said everyone has been working hard this summer to be as strong of a team as possible. Helmen said the team has been “grinding” in the weight room, especially himself, so he can do what he does best.

“My favorite part is probably just hitting people,” Helmen said.

Warren said along with getting stronger, he wants the team to focus on being more dynamic on the field.

“Being more efficient with everything we do, with our ball management, but we’re excited about it,” Warren said.

One point of excitement is the incoming group of freshman and sophomores. While official practices have not started yet, Warren still said he has a good feeling about the new group.

“We’ve had a couple kids that have showed some promise. I’m always surprised because there is a big growth between freshman and sophomore year. People always surprise me, what I see from year to year,” Warren said.

With the help of the older returners and the promise of new, younger players, Warren is hoping this year will be the Tiger’s year.

“You have to be healthy at the beginning of the season. That’s the key. We have to be prepared in the playoffs to make a run,” Warren said.

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