POMEROY — Stay healthy.
For head coaches in the depth-challenged world of 8-man football, it is obvious to the point of cliche.
High school football previews highlight the upcoming seasons over this week.
Last week, McLoughlin High and Weston-McEwen High previews were featured.
Today, Southeast 1B-8 teams Touchet and Pomeroy previews will be in the U-B.
Tuesday, Southeast 2B-11 teams Waitsburg-Prescott, Dayton and DeSales will be featured.
And on Wednesday, Walla Walla High School’s upcoming season will be previewed.
Dayton hosts Mac-Hi at 7 p.m. Thursday to open play in Washington.
On Friday, Wa-Hi heads to Moses Lake at 7 p.m., while DeSales hosts LaSalle at 7, Waitsburg-Prescott heads to Pilot Rock at 7, Odessa-Harrington invades Touchet at 3 p.m., and Pomeroy hosts Lummi at 6 p.m.
It is first, last and middle on the wish list.
Even one injury can cause a catastrophic chain reaction and torpedo an entire season.
2013 Pomeroy schedule
Sept. 6 Lummi
Sept. 13 Lewis Country
Sept. 20 at Clearwater Valley
Sept. 27 St. John Endicott
Oct. 4 Sunnyside Christian
Oct. 11 at Lacrosse-Washtucna
Oct. 18 at Garfield-Palouse
Oct. 25 Liberty Christian
Nov. 1 at Touchet
Nov. 7 Colton
Sanford Bates and the Pomeroy Pirates absorbed that harsh reality in 2012, when a string of injuries turned a promising campaign — and the buzz from a 10-win 2011 season — into a 2-8 slog.
“We were looking to carry on from 2011, but we did have some major, key injuries that didn’t help last year,” Bates said. “In the first quarter of our first game, we lost our senior fullback and middle linebacker to a knee injury. In the third quarter, we lost our senior quarterback for three games with an ankle injury. In our fourth game, we lost a senior tailback for the season with a concussion. Our second-string quarterback missed a game with a concussion.”
That absurd chain of events forced younger players into the breach, accelerating their varsity development and putting Pomeroy in a position to contend for a Southeast 1B League crown this fall.
Touchet head coach Gary Dorman went so far as to tag the Pirates “preseason favorites.”
“Pomeroy will be loaded,” Dorman said. “They were devastated by injuries last year and had a lot of sophomores and juniors playing a lot of football. They’re gonna be tough.”
If — the crucial 8-man “if”’ — they stay healthy.
“We’ll be competitive,” said Bates, an assessment grounded as much in modesty as it is tempered by harsh recent experience. “We have some kids that are coming back. We have a good number (28) turning out.
“I don’t know if we’re a favorite.”
Pomeroy has a few things going for it: team speed Bates calls “above average,” an experienced, relatively-deep cadre of running backs, and the “nice dilemma” of having too many qualified linemen for three available starting spots.
Junior quarterback Cade Snyder will be protected by seniors Cody LaMunyan (6-5, 210) and Taylor Lewis, a pair of returning starters. Senior Riley Bott will reprise dual starting roles at tight end and defensive end. The Hyer brothers, senior Wyatt and junior Kyle, form a fullback/tailback tandem with plenty of varsity know-how after injuries forced the siblings into starting service last season.
“They have that experience behind them now,” Bates said. “They’re ready to go this year.”
In a “perfect world,” Pomeroy would maintain a 60-percent run/40-percent pass ratio on offense, he added, but if an extra rasher of aerial fireworks is called for, Snyder and sophomore understudy Hazin Hytvelt “can throw it.”
Kheigan Bott is the frontrunner for the center position, with sophomore Adam Herris, junior Everett Stevens and senior Tyler McGreevy pushing for trench time.
“We have some depth there,” Bates said of the offensive line. “That’s probably our strong suit.”
Junior Jackson Hall lends depth at tailback, and junior Bryan McGreevy is the top receiving threat.
Pomeroy will show odd- and even-front looks on defense, depending on matchups, with LaMunyan playing nose tackle in 3-man fronts. Bott, Stevens and junior Blaine Reisdorph are in the mix up front, with Snyder, Hytvelt, Everett and the Hyer brothers solidifying the linebacker brigade.
Hall and Bryan McGreevy are frontrunners to start in the secondary, with sophomore Aidan Dixon and junior Memo Morfin pushing for time.
“We’ll need to play as a team, play together,” said Bates, who is entering his third year as head coach at Pomeroy, which is embarking on its fourth season of 8-man football. “We had a couple guys who were standouts last year, in a sense. This year, we don’t have that. We need to make sure we play together.”
Bates foresees a four- or five-team race for the league title, with Garfield-Palouse, Lacrosse-Washtucna-Kahlotus, Touchet and Liberty Christian posing formidable challenges.
“Sunnyside (Christian) has improved over previous years,” he added. “We’ll have to be prepared every week. We’re looking to get to the playoffs. We’ll see how things gel through the season.
“If we can put things together and do what we’re supposed to do, we’ll have a chance.”