Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of eight visits with Mid-Columbia Conference football teams. Pasco will run Tuesday.
The greatest compliment to graduated Kamiakin running back Umid Ramizov is that the Braves couldn’t find a single running back to replace him.
That’s also what Kamiakin coach Scott Biglin likes best about who will take handoffs from quarterback Tyson Patten in 2014.
“Umid was an outstanding running back, and he really worked hard to get where he was. But now we’ve got three or four guys who can carry the load for us,” Biglin said of Mikey Jones, Justin Larsen and Pasco transfer T.J. Faamausili.
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Jones showed plenty of promise as Ramizov’s backup, and Larsen got a handful of carries as well. Faamausili was the Bulldogs’ top ballcarrier last season, gaining 256 yards and a touchdown on 81 carries to finish eighth among returning Mid-Columbia Conference running backs.
Patten could be a nice surprise, too, in his first season under center. He has the thankless job of replacing two-year starter and all-MCC quarterback Kylle Robertson, but won’t be expected to produce at that level just yet.
“The biggest thing for him that was helpful for us was that he got thrown into the starting role at shortstop for our baseball team. He got to see what varsity athletics were all about,” Biglin said. “He came in with a lot of confidence and has become that leader that we need him to be. He’s not quite there yet, but with his hard work he could be one of those top-tier quarterbacks next year.”
Of course, Kamiakin will be sound defensively, as always. At linebacker, the Braves have a pair of three-year starters in Tyler Herman and Dalton Tuveson on the outside, plus a two-year starter in Jones in the middle. The Braves also feature a pair of returning starters in the secondary — Austin Gutierrez and Larsen.
“I think our best unit is our defense,” said Gutierrez, a second-team all-MCC pick at wide receiver. “On offense, we’re getting there. Once we get back to where we’re going to be, we’ll be unstoppable. That’s what we’re looking forward to so we can get back to the playoffs again.”
Tuveson also likes the talent on the defensive line — Tyler Johns in particular.
“He’s an animal. He’s crazy. He’s all over the place, and he doesn’t know when to quit,” Tuveson said of the 6-foot, 210-pound senior defensive end. “He’s fast, too. He got hurt last year, but this year he’s really looking good.”
Herman is part of a senior core that will help keep the team focused on its goal of an MCC championship. The returning first-team all-MCC performer is certainly a fan favorite, but he’s an even bigger fan of the student section that follows Braves football.
“We want to start winning some games for them and make sure they’re showing up and going crazy,” Herman said. “We’ll adapt to what we have on defense. We’ll add a couple things because we have different personnel than we used to. But it will be pretty much the same.
“We’ll be coming after people.”
First on the list is Ferndale, Kamiakin’s Week 1 opponent, which will travel from the west side to visit Lampson Stadium at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 5.
“I’m really good friends with the Ferndale coach (Jamie Plenkovich), and my brother-in-law coaches up there. We’ve been trying to set this game up for a while,” Biglin said. “It’s a nonleague game, and you always want to win every game. Pride is on the line.”
The Golden Eagles run a Wing-T offense, something Kamiakin doesn’t get to see very often in a league filled with strong passing games.
“That first game is also important to see what we can and can’t do,” Biglin said. “If you don’t play good assignment football, you’re going to be lost. But (defensive coordinator Tim) Maher does a fantastic job of getting our defense ready. I think he’ll have them ready to go.”
w Jack Millikin; 582-1406; firstname.lastname@example.org