The Puyallup Vikings football team finished the 2013 season one game away from the Class 4A state playoffs after losing to Bothell, 54-14, in a winner-to-state, loser-out district playoff game.
A sizable number of Puyallup’s starters were seniors last season, but the Vikings return one of the top quarterbacks in the South Puget Sound League South Division with Brenden Illies under center. The 2014 season will be the third consecutive year Illies has been running the show on offense for the Vikings. Longtime assistant coach George Wilfong, who has been involved with the Puyallup football program in various capacities since the 1960s, said Illies can make plays with his arm and his legs.
“I like his toughness. He will take people on,” Wilfong said. “There were some runs last year where he was right along the sideline and when the defenders got to him, he just ran right over them and got another four or five yards. He is tough not only physically, but mentally. Brendan knows the game and is a good leader.”
Illies was a key part of the Vikings baseball team that won the Class 4A state championship on May 31 in Pasco.
“I just want to be a leader for this team,” Illies said. “We got some young guys that are just coming out here for the first time. I’m doing my best with the quarterbacks, especially just to teach them and show them what I see and show them what I would do in certain situations on the field. I’m trying to teach the younger guys what to expect.”
Puyallup head coach Gary Jeffers said spring practices are valuable for the underclassman on the roster in order to get acclimated to the team’s culture and mode of operation.
“A big part of it is building a brotherhood on this team,” Jeffers said. “We’re a family and it is passed down from the old guys to the young guys. I think it’s reassuring for the young guys to hear the old guys say our systems are not as complicated as I make it sound. By the time they have been in the system for a while it becomes very easy and is something everybody can do.”
Illies believes Jeffers is a great motivator in all aspects of football.
“He’s a competitive guy and is always one of those guys who wants it done right the first time,” the quarterback said. “That is one of the things that I pride myself on and try to teach the other young guys who are coming into the program.”
Jeffers said the offensive line is the biggest question mark going into the 2014 season with the loss of departed senior tackles Matt Voss and Quinn Rawson.
“We have two returning starters in Nolan Meyers (guard) and Shawn Zuelsdorf (guard/center),” he said. “It seems like every year we’re always piecing the offensive line together. Right now we’re looking for some guys to step up at those two positions.”
Illies said the younger players across the board will rise to the occasion when their number is called upon.
“We got some guys on the line who are stepping up right now and they are going to continue to progress over the summer and during this coming season,” he said.