Even though they are an eight-man team, Coach Jeff Eaton of the Naselle Comets still has his eye on the 2019 championship. With a team split between very experienced players and very new players, Eaton is looking to some of his star guys to lead the way.
“Fa’aoso Tutu’u has been in the weight room off and on this summer, earlier than I can get there. He’s going to be such a power on the field. He’s kind of a freak athlete. He doesn’t even know what his potential could be, because he’s only played football since seventh or eighth grade,” Eaton said. “He should have a really good season. I think the kids will look up to him that way.”
Tutu’u has been playing for Naselle all four years, after moving to the area in middle school. Matched with players like Ethan Lindstrom, senior, and Jimmy Strange, junior, who have been playing football their entire high school career, Eaton said he expects a good season.
“I put us at number 2. It’s going to be a little bit younger team this year. We have got to see where these younger guys are going to put us,” Eaton said.
Last year, the team was able to bring up an eighth grader, who had finished his middle school season, to play for the Comets. Now, the team is relying on the new freshman and a few younger players to help fill the gaps.
“Colton Lindstrom was in eighth grade last year. He actually played in almost every game, at least in special teams. He’s a pretty good size for a freshman,” Eaton said.
Sophomores Joey Strange and Jakobe Johnson are a few of the younger players Eaton is hoping will replace the recent graduates.
“Joey’s more natural positon is playing defensive back. He’s a tenacious kid. Jakobe’s only going to be a sophomore but he’s been lifting weights since eighth grade. He’s going to be a force for us. He’s another up and comer I’m hoping will do well,” Eaton said.
Summer workouts and weight lifting have helped get the players up to where they need to be, according to Eaton. However, there is still work to be done.
“We’re going to focus a lot more on mechanics, I think well run the ball more. Last year we were probably 60-40 passing. We’ll probably be the opposite of that this year,” Eaton said.
For the older players, the focus is on getting the new players ready mentally.
“Everyone’s thinking about what they have to do. Getting their mind right for the game, preparing is key,” Ethan Lindstrom said.
A large portion of the season is spent traveling to away games. Sitting on a bus for hours takes a toll that can’t be prepared for in practice.
“The long road trips, you never know how they’re going to respond to that. The biggest focus is trying to navigate the season with our long road trips and keeping people healthy because we’re not going to be as deep as we were last year,” Eaton said.
So far, Eaton has a team of around 20 players, but not all of them are varsity ready, he said.
“Working on those guys getting better so we do develop depth over the season, that’ll be big for us. We got to the semi’s last year so there’s only one more step we need to take,” Eaton said.