ATHENA — The Weston-McEwen TigerScots football team kicks off the 2012-13 season Sept. 7 at DeSales High in Walla Walla.
The TigerScots will take on the Irish, and play the following Friday at home against the reigning Washington Class 2B state football champions, Waitsburg-Prescott.
The two Washington schools will test the TigerScots in the preseason before the seven-game regular season Blue Mountain Conference Class 2A District 4 schedule.
The addition of the Grant Union Prospectors makes it an eight-team league this season.
W-M travel to four BMC matchups, and hosts three games at home.
“It is hard say what teams to look out for in our conference,” Weston-McEwen coach Kenzie Hansell said. “Many of the teams have new systems and coaches. We’ll have to get some film on all of them during the first week of the season.
“We know Heppner is always good,” he said. “They are led by longtime head coach Greg Grant.
“Stanfield is manned by a second-year coach Steve Sheller. Elgin and Irrigon will have new coaches and systems this season,” Hansell continued. “Grant Union is new to the league, but has a good tradition of football. We’ll find out more after we have a chance to do some scouting of games.”
The TigerScots made an undefeated run to the state semifinals last season before falling to the Scio Loggers in Hillsboro, Ore.
W-M will be looking to build upon the success of last season, make the playoffs and go even deeper into the postseason.
“We’ve got our eyes on the prize,” W-M senior running back Tyler Peterson said. “We want to make it to the state championship.”
“We’re not expecting anything less than last year,” senior first-team all-state center Michael Guerrero said. “A lot of people are saying it will be hard to live up to last year, but why not? Why not do better? If we come out every day and work hard like last year, we can do better.”
The TigerScots did lose a handful of skill position players on offense and defense. The most notable losses to graduation from last year are quarterback/safety Dallas Reich, running back Elliot Salter, wide receivers Jared Bond, Ron Terjeson and Nick Lively, as well as nose tackle and offensive lineman Riley Sederburg.
With standout quarterback Reich and his talented offensive corps last season, the TigerScots aired it out and blew out teams while holding down the shutouts. The long bomb, the short pass, dive or sweep were all available in the playbook for the TigerScots with that group of seniors.
The most important competition at practice may be the open quarterback battle. Vying for quarterback snaps will be sophomore Eric Washburn (5-9, 145) and senior Jacob Ramirez (5’10, 165). “We have a good competition at quarterback,” Hansell said. “Both guys are trying really hard. It is really a competition at every position; the kids are working hard and having good practices.”
W-M return four battle-tested, big, strong and fast offensive linemen to the team this season.
The starters are projected to be K.J. White, Guerrero, Nick Pease and Justin Burke, with a final position up for grabs.
All of the linemen bring back loads of experience to the offensive and defensive lines, Hansell feels.
“Our offensive line and defensive lines will be a strength this season,” Hansell said. “They average a height of 5 foot, 10 inches and about 205 pounds. We have size, depth and experience on our line this season.”
Handling his share of the carries will be returning starting fullback Peterson and several other TigerScots currently competing in practice for playing time in the backfield.
Hansell mentioned other potential key ball carriers for W-M as Dusty Bennett (5-8, 140) and Tucker Osborne (5-6, 150).
Hansell said that the TigerScots will run and pass according to their personnel.
But most of the final playbook is yet to be hashed out.
He noted that the first game of the season for most Oregon teams on Friday is a bye for the TigerScots, and be filled with a lot of film work on upcoming foes.
The 40-man-strong football team looks to step up and fill holes of graduating seniors, play as a team and play hard, Hansell said.
He said the team may be different than last season, but the idea is still the same. He is concentrated on building a good program and strong tradition in his fifth year at the helm.
“Everyone loses seniors each year, but we gain new players in the freshman,” Hansell said. “From freshman to seniors, there will be some holes available to fill.”
“We’ll have to go hard, go far together and do work,” returning lineman White said. “Every game will be a challenge.”
Lineman Pease believes that the team will have to come together to win.
“If we play as a team, I think we’ll do well,” Pease said. “It all depends on how we work together. I just try to do my best out there.”