The North Marion football team is entering a new conference with a greater sense of self.
Due to conference realignment, the North Marion football team must traverse uncharted territory next season in the Oregon West Conference.
Huskies head coach Doug Bilodeau is mostly unfamiliar with the teams in the conference, which includes last years 4A state tournament number one seed Philomath, as well as Stayton, Newport, Yamhill-Carlton and Cascade, but isnt worried about each teams historic game plans or past personnel.
You just have to prepare and know what they are now. What they were in the past really doesnt help you, Bilodeau said.
Besides, Bilodeau subscribes to the notion that knowing ones self is more important than knowing thy opponents.
And self-knowledge, he believes, his team has down pat.
In Bilodeaus first game as head coach a couple years ago, he recalls his players only being able to run the ball to one side of the field. However, now, he says his team is much more familiar with his run-oriented flying wing-t offense and aggressive defense than either of his previous squads.
Were at a point where we dont really have to teach. We can practice the offense and execution instead of having to re-teach nuances, Bilodeau said.
Because the freshman team and North Marion affiliated youth teams run the exact same offense, players who have come up the ranks already know the plays and digressions backwards and forwards.
Though the teams acquaintance with the playbook is greater, they will have to figure out how to replace a few paramount players from last years club such as first team all-leaguers Brennan Patterson (OT), Kyle Williamson (WR), Tristan Wampole and Ben Crumley (QB).
As far as the coveted starting quarterback position is concerned, sophomore Tanner Scanlan is competing with junior Austin Ladesma for the distinction.
Tanner is a straight drop back guy. Austin is an option and play action type and a tough kid, Bilodeau said.
Coach Bilodeau added that whichever quarterback synchronizes best with the rest of the offense will likely earn the gig.
To replace 250 pounds of Patterson, Bilodeau is optimistic fellow 250 pounder and regular street-baller Jeremiah Kouches will that void.
Hes big and has great feet. My hope is that he can take that spot, Bilodeau said.
Last year, North Marion took advantage of teams loading the box to stop their forceful rushing attack by throwing the ball to Williamson, who often saw one-on-one coverage. This year, Bilodeau is searching for another player who can make the defense pay for over-committing to the run.
Kyle was a unique athlete. Drew Torian is tall and also very athletic. We have guys coming up with not a lot of experience, but have talent. Its just a matter of who is going to come up big under pressure, Bilodeau said.
With regard to the guys who will receive the bulk of the attention from defenses next season, Bilodeau is confident ball carriers Tyler Saucedo and Shane McKillip will devastate defenses.
Bilodeau points out that right after wrestling season ended last year, Saucedo hit the weight room incessantly. Last year, he weighed 170 pounds. This year, he weighs 195 pounds.
When we saw him, we said holly mackerel, look at that guy. Hes going to be a beast at full back, Bilodeau said.
Running back McKillip, however, only weighs 155, but his courage gleams brighter than his size.
The kids a workhorse. We had to give him a bath every Saturday morning last year. You know he wont stop his feat and has a motor that doesnt quit. Theres nothing not to love about the guy, Bilodeau said.
North Marion was on a roll heading into the Tri-Valley Conference championship game against Gladstone last year. However, they got walloped by Gladstone and by North Valley in the state playoff play-in game, finishing with a respectable 6-4 record.
Like most coaches, Bilodeau is more focused on consistent excellence in practice than autumnal results.
He said: My expectations are day to day. Of course every coach wants his team to get to playoffs, but what I hope to do what we need to do. We have a long way go.
North Marion will host St. Paul, Woodburn and Colton high schools in a jamboree on August 29 and will start its season on September fifth at home against Banks.
Banks at North Marion September 5
Gladstone at North Marion September 12
North Marion at Tillamook September 19
North Marion at Yamhill-Carlton September 26
North Marion at Philomath October 3
Stayton at North Marion October 9
North Marion at Newport October 17
Cascade at North Marion October 24