The Kamiakin Braves took off for a lap around Lampson Stadium at the start of Wednesday’s practice.
A sea of red jerseys, big and small, moved as a team.
“We have one of the best quarterback-running back combinations and four great receivers,” said Wyatt Musser, a 6-foot-6, 285-pound senior lineman. “But it’s more than that. We are a team. We go 100 percent, and if things don’t work out, we learn from it. If we work hard as a team, we won’t fail.”
The Braves, who went 6-1 in the Mid-Columbia Conference and 8-3 overall last season, lost a fair amount of players to graduation, including wide receiver/defensive back Gavin Crow, offensive linemen Korbin Sorensen and Nick Little, and defensive lineman Austin Crawford, just to name a few.
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Kamiakin does return several skill position players, as well a crop of young players. Now, coach Scott Biglin must see if they have the makings to be a competitive team.
“That is yet to be determined,” Biglin said. “We have a lot of JV experience, but not under the lights. We’ll find out Friday if they have what it takes.”
Quarterback Zach Borisch returns, as does running back Jethro Questad, who scampered for 1,241 yards and 12 touchdowns last year. Borisch threw for 1,490 yards and 21 touchdowns last year, and he added 476 yards and nine TDs on the ground.
“A lot of our skill guys are back,” Biglin said. “Not much will change with what we did last year. We may have to rely on the pass more — our offensive line is unproven. We will adjust on the fly.”
Borisch will have a plethora of weapons to choose from when he goes to the air.
The 6-6, 200-pound Isaiah Brimmer won’t be hard to find, and speedy Darreon Moore hauled in 15 catches for 325 yards last year. Add in Champ Grayson and Benson Smith, and defenses will be busy trying to control traffic.
“Those guys are a special four,” Biglin said. “Most teams would like to have one of them, and we have all four. Zach has a lot of weapons out there. With Jethro in the backfield, we will be fun to watch.”
Up front, Musser will anchor an offensive line that lost most of its bulk to graduation.
“Wyatt is a Division I guy, and he needs to perform like that,” Biglin said. “We need to have guys step up. We have one of the best offensive line coaches (Gilbert Marquez) in the state. He needs to get them to step up. It’s the nature of the beast with most teams. Sophomores and juniors have to learn from them. Wyatt might play some on the defensive line, but we are trying not to go both ways if possible.”
Senior linebacker Alex Bayuk will try his hand at playing on the offensive line. At 6-3, 185, he’s not mammoth by lineman standards, but he’s willing to do what he can to help the team.
“He’s a football player and a team player,” Biglin said.
Bayuk, an all-MCC first-team selection last year, will be looked upon to lead the Braves’ linebacking corps.
“Coach (Tim) Maher said he’s one of the best (linebackers) he’s had, and we’ve had some good ones,” Biglin said.
Joining Bayuk at linebacker are Dillon Crawford, Talmadge Jacobson and possibly Borisch.
Moore, a first-team all-MCC and all-state defensive back, drew praise from Biglin.
“He is a special talent,” Biglin said. “He started as a freshman, which is a first for me as a coach. He continues to grow. I look for him to be a playmaker. He’s a good receiver, but defensively, he is lockdown. He is pretty good.”
And defense is where Moore has the most fun.
“We do film all week and target their star players,” Moore said of the opposition. “Then we shut them down. It’s not an individual sport, but if you do your job, everyone looks good.”
But the offense has its appeal too.
“Knowing you have a quarterback like Zach, who is going to be there for you and march you down the field, makes things easier,” Moore said. “We have been together since we were freshmen. We have that chemistry.”
Adding to the Braves’ arsenal is kicker Garrett Paxton. As a sophomore, the 6-2, 165-pound Paxton kicked 41 PATs and one field goal.
“He’s a good weapon for us,” Biglin said. “On kickoffs, we are hoping he can put it out of the end zone.”
Break it down
2015: 6-1 MCC, 8-3 overall.
MCC rankings: Offense first (386 yards per game); defense second (259.8 ypg).
Returning leaders: Rushing — Jethro Questad 1,241 yards, 12 TDs; Zach Borisch 476 yards, 9 TDs. Passing — Zach Borisch 94-169-8-1,490, 21 TDs. Receiving — Darreon Moore 15-325; Isaiah Brimmer 12-116; Champ Grayson 7-103; Benson Smith 7-91. Special teams — K Garrett Paxton 41 PATs.
Key games: Sept. 16, at Chiawana; Oct. 7, vs. Richland; Oct. 14, at Kennewick.
Mid-Columbia Conference 2015