Moving quickly and with a purpose is a requirement on the football practice field at Emerald Ridge High School.
Emerald Ridge High co-coaches Adam Schakel, Torey Donovan, Darren Erath, Brian Anderson and Troy Halfaday, who have been in charge of the football program since 2010, make that abundantly clear during each and every practice session. Hustling isn’t what is encouraged, it’s an expectation. The old school approach to the game is something Jaguars players appreciate.
“I couldn’t ask for better coaches. They keep us disciplined and that is what it is all about,” Jaguars slot receiver/safety Brett Rankin said.
Emerald Ridge free safety/wide receiver Jake March couldn’t agree more.
“There is no slacking allowed here,” March said. “The coaches don’t allow anything. Our helmets are always perfectly lined up before the national anthem. If one guy jumps offsides, then everyone is running. It’s never about one player, and it’s always a team effort. When we get out on the field, we trust each other. I know if I mess up, there is someone right behind me who is going to make the play.”
The Jaguars, who finished the 2013 regular season with a record of 4-6, were much better than their win total indicated. Emerald Ridge suffered heartbreaking defeats against both Rogers and Puyallup. Despite Emerald Ridge winning the turnover battle 4-0, Rogers defeated Emerald Ridge 43-40 in the showdown for South Hill bragging rights. Puyallup registered a 40-39 victory on a 45-yard field goal by Brad Macdougall as time expired. The Vikings set up the game-winning field goal with a pass to the sideline with just one-tenth of a second left on the clock. Those two losses are something that has eaten away at Jaguars players since the conclusion of the 2013 season.
“We have that one second of the Puyallup game and losing to Rogers by three points in the back of our minds,” Rankin said. “We are working hard day and night.”
March said the Jaguars’ mantra during the spring has been to “finish.”
“A lot of games we lost last year were just by a few inches,” he said. “It’s about finishing every play and every rep in practice. We have to make sure we finish everything we do.”
Cody Anderson will be the main running back this fall, but there will be a new face at the quarterback position. The Jaguars lost last year’s starters Ryan Knowliton and Goy Mal, who split time at the quarterback spot in 2013, to graduation. March said senior Griffin Meyers and sophomore Logan Skoda have impressed him during the spring practice sessions.
“It is probably going to be between those two. They are both playing well,” he said.
ER defensive coordinator Brian Anderson said March is a physical player in the defensive backfield.
“Jake is going to be huge for us this year,” Anderson said. “He was hurt early in the season last year but finished the season strong. He really showed at the end of the year how physical of a player he is.”
The Jaguars defensive coordinator said the coaching staff does everything in its power to ensure its players do things the right away on and off the field.
“We want to teach these guys how to become great young men,” Anderson said. “Wins and losses, that stuff will take care of itself. If we can do things the right way with our preparation, effort and character, that is what is rewarding as coaches. Success is a byproduct of that. That is why we do what we do.”