NASELLE - The Naselle Comets 2002 football team's success will largely depend on a mix of experienced linemen and the development of a young, or new, backfield. NHS, which finished the 2001 campaign with a 4-4-1 record and made a brief one game foray into the state playoffs, have a big veteran line but a green backfield.
Coach Matt Scrabeck, in his third year as the Comets head coach, said, "I am real pleased with the attitude of the kids and the work ethic that they have displayed. They have been working hard on the field and in the weight room."
Scrabeck is also pleased with the large turnout of young players which include 17 underclassmen. The 27 man squad includes 10 seniors, 11 sophomores and six freshmen. Scrabeck said that several of the players, including four seniors, haven't played football for a year or two so they are starting again on some parts of the game.
"We also had 39 young kids (elementary grades 1-6) attend our camp just before school started. These kids will play a game at the half-time of our first game with Knappa. All of that involvement by the younger kids speaks well for the future," Scrabeck said.
Scrabeck is joined on the field by coaches Dan Vaughn as backfield and ends coach, Jeff Eaton as line coach and volunteer assistant coaches Mark Agee and Bob Torppa. Vaughn is in his third year as an assistant and Jeff Eaton was the Comets head coach for 11 years before becoming an assistant three years ago. The middle school team will be coached by Lonnie Eaton and Chris Clark.
The Comets' 26-man squad includes an interior line which averages 230 pounds and includes Chris Cook (a second team all league performer last year), Zach Ruch (all league honorable mention last year), Derek Johnson, Dan White and Tony Wirkkala. Tight end Tom Gradt gives the Comets line even more strength and experience in the line while Sean Houghton will also see time at that spot.
Since last year's strong backfield, which was led by "all-everything" Dustin Doty, has graduated, the Comets' hopes for a good season will largely depend on the development of quarterback Robin Andrea, a senior transfer from Astoria and backup Doug Wise and largely inexperienced running back candidates Chris Dunn, Sean Houghton, Nate Moore, Tony Mendoza, Greg Queener and Robert Torppa. The wide receivers will likely be Aoy Marion and Gavin Maxwell.
The Comets will generally play on both offense and defense with backups Wryan Anderson, Justin Clark, Colby Engelson and Caleb Hazen providing relief for the starters. NHS kickers have not yet been determined with Andrea or Robert Torppa doing the punting and Mendoza the kicking.
The football squad includes: Seniors - Robin Andrea, Zach Badger, Justin Clark, Chris Cook, Cody Davis, Tom Gradt, Sean Houghton, Zach Ruch, Tony Wirkkala and exchange student Maros Borak; Sophomores - Dave Anderson, Michael Gilbert, David Gradt, Derek Johnson, Gavin Maxwell, Tony Mendoza, Nate Moore, Greg Queener, Richard Smith, Dan White and Joe Wright; Freshmen - Wryan Anderson, Colby Engelson, Caleb Hazen, Aoy Marion, Robert Torppa and Doug Wise.
The Comets' season opens with an awesome non-league schedule, as they entertain Knappa, Ore., this Friday at 7:30 p.m. on Rueben Penttila Field. They then entertain the powerful class 1A Toledo Indians on Sept. 20. The Comets open their league season on the defending state champion Willapa Valley Vikings home field in their third game of the year.