The Chewelah Cougars look to push into the top half of Northeast A football this season with many returning players at key positions and retooled offensive and defensive lines.
Last season, the Cougars were hot early, getting off to a fast 5-1 start before losing three straight and then winning their final game of the season.
This season, senior running back Calvin Connall and junior quarterback Derek Smith look to lead a balanced Cougar attack on offense. Ryan Finley is the only receiver with a lot of varsity experience, but the other wideouts have gotten some game time and should be ready.
â€śWeâ€™ve got good balance, we just have had to re-tool line wise.â€ť said head coach Jim Fisk.
The offensive and defensive lines will feature a host of new starters after the loss of five seniors, including first team NEA players Will Peters, Jacob Campbell and Matt Olson to graduation.
Trio of non-league games to work the kinks out.
â€śWe should be okay up front,â€ť says coach Fisk. â€śWeâ€™ve got three non-league games to see what we need to work on and get ready for league.â€ť
Senior middle linebacker Dylan Long will lead an exÂ¬perienced LB group on deÂ¬fense.
â€śWe have all of our linebackers back with Connall and Ben Johnstone,â€ť added coach Fisk.
Finley will lead the secondary, where most players have some experience at the varsity level, but not starting experience. The lack of playing time doesn't worry coach Fisk much.
â€śWe had them on a rotation and got them in for a series during games, not just in the fourth quarter or garbage time, but some real game situations early on,â€ť Fisk said of valuable game reps for his reserves last seaÂ¬son.
The Cougars came through AuÂ¬gust practice sessions without any major injuries and are eager to get out and start hitting players in different colored jerseys. On Monday the Cougars got their first bit of game action in the Deer Park Jamboree, but the games were moved to Riverside HS because of poor field conditions in Deer Park.
On Friday, Chewelah again travels to Deer Park to play the Stags at 7 p.m. In the season opener for both teams. It was unknown at press time if the field at Deer Park will be ready. If it isn't, the game will be moved to Riverside High School (Chattaroy).
The Cougars are eager to get that first game under their belt.
â€śWe canâ€™t wait to get out there,â€ť Fisk said. â€śDeer Park has a lot of athletes and it will be a good test for our guys to see where weâ€™re at.â€ť
As far as the league outlook is concerned, coach Fisk believes that the NEA will be a very close and competitive league this fall.
â€śThe turnouts at the other schools are all very close and you canâ€™t really tell who is going to be there until we get into the league schedule,â€ť Fisk added.
Monday, August 29 Jamboree @ Deer Park 5 p.m.
September 2 vs. Deer Park @ Deer Park HS 7 p.m.
September 9 vs. Cedar Park Christian @ Juanita HS 7 p.m.
September 16 vs. TonasÂ¬ket @ Home 7 p.m.
September 23 vs. NewÂ¬port @ Newport 7 p.m.
September 30 vs. FreeÂ¬man @ Home 7 p.m.
October 7 vs. Priest River @ Priest River, 7 p.m.
October 14 vs. Lakeside @ Lakeside 7 p.m.
October 21 vs. Riverside @ Home 7 p.m.
October 28 vs. Colville @ Colville 7 p.m.
November 4 or 5--CTL CrossovÂ¬er TBA