Last fall was a disappointing inaugural season for Kettle Falls High in their debut into Class B football. The Northeast League, the old Bi-County, was anything but hospitable to the Bulldogs, who finished 2-8 overall.
With a loaded sophomore class (20 players) and a retooled offense, look for KFHS to experience more on-field success this fall.
How that translates into what looks like another rigorous Northeast is anybodyâ€™s guess. Check back in early November.
Head coach Curtis Corvino and his staff has gone from a more conventional power attack to the spread offense. Itâ€™s something the Bulldogs utilized late last season with some success.
â€śThe spread was something that was part of our offense, but not the focus,â€ť Corvino said last week.
McKern will key the offense out of the shotgun
The spread is the focus now.
Running the Kettle attack out of the shotgun this fall will be sophomore Conner McKern, who played on special teams last season and saw some late game varsity action. The 5-9, 160-pound McKern directed an unbeaten junior varsity last fall.
â€śHeâ€™s a good athlete and his decsion-making, particularly for a young guy, is pretty good,â€ť Corvino said of McKern. â€śHeâ€™s quick back there and he throws a good ball.â€ť
McKern is evidence that there is a significant youth movement afoot at Kettle Falls.
â€śOn offense, we have a lot of talented young guys,â€ť Corvino said. â€śItâ€™s a great opportunity for them to get some experience and build on that.â€ť
Junior Brandon Thomas was the quarterback in Kettleâ€™s spread option sets late last season. Heâ€™s been moved to tailback to take advantage of his speed and running ability.
â€śBrandon is a heck of a tailback,â€ť Corvino said. â€śHe needs to have the ball in his hands. Heâ€™s a kid who runs without fear and runs with authority.â€ť
The other split back will be sophomore Austin Anderson, a 5-8, 175-pounder. Anderson is one of the dedicated weight room junkies for the Bulldogs.
â€śThat shows,â€ť Corvino says. â€śHe has gotten very strong because of that year-around commitment in the weight room.â€ť
At receiver will be 5-10, 155-pound junior Luke Beardslee and 5-9, 155-pound Jesse Dobson. Also figuring in at receiver are 6-0, 165-pound Trey Tucker, senior Kevin Owens and 6-0, 160-pound junior Logan Cook.
Thin up front
Up front, 5-6, 190-pound sophomore Kyle Dobson will be the center. According to Corvino, Dobson is another â€śof our weight room junkies.â€ť
At the guards will be Tyler Vining, a 6-0, 210-pound junior who is coming off knee surgery. At the other guard will be Daniel Wasson, a 6-0, 180-pounder who has moved inside from the fullback position.
At tackles will be senior John Coots, a 5-10, 180-pounder and big Eddie Bitzan, a 6-3, 295-pound senior transfer and easily the biggest of the Bulldogs up front.
â€śEddie used to go to school here,â€ť Corvino said of the former all-conference selection at his old school.
On the IR list at present is 5-7, 190-pound senior Reuben Winter and 5-8, 190-pound junior Garrett Edin.
â€śWe are very thin up front, but I think more athletic than we have been,â€ť Corvino said. â€śThat fits us pretty well with the style of offense we have gone to.â€ť
There are some new looks to Kettleâ€™s retooled offense this fall. Ditto for the coaching staff, where former KFHS head coach Tracy Flugel is back full time, along with long-time KFHS coach, Mike Fredrickson, who also happens to be Corvinoâ€™s father-in-law. Dave Tupek is back to head up the Bulldogsâ€™ defense.
â€śIâ€™m really excited about our staff,â€ť Corvino said of his veteran group. â€śGetting Tracy back full-time is huge.
On defense, the Bulldogs will run a 3-4.
â€śWith the three down guys, we hope to keep guys as fresh as we can with our rotation,â€ť Corvino said.
The linebacking crew will come from the group of Owens, Vining, Wasson, Coots and Anderson.
In the secondary will be Dobson, Cook, McKern, Beardslee and Brandon Hopkins, a 5-11, 155-pound sophomore.
John Coots and Cook will handle the punting duties. Big legged Bitzan will handle the place-kicking duties.
The old Bi-County is one of the toughest Class B circuits in the state with the likes of perennial power Colfax, Lind-Ritzville and Reardan.
â€śBoth of those teams played in the state quarterfinals last season and will be strong again this year,â€ť Corvino said of Colfax and Lind-Ritzville. â€śItâ€™s a tough, competitive league.
â€śI think that we are improved and we will continue to improve during the course of the season.â€ť
The league season gets underway Sept. 16 when Kettle Falls hosts Reardan.
â€śI think that we fit into the mix pretty well,â€ť Corvino figured. â€śI have to give Colfax the edge becauseâ€¦they are Colfax. And Lind-Ritzville will be strong again.â€ť
As far as his own team is concerned, Corvino likes the work ethic so far.
Business-like approach so far during fall camp
â€śThe kids are enthusiastic and are ready to go in practice,â€ť
With as much youth as KFHS will be trotting out this fall, there are concerns about their readiness for varsity action.
â€śWith the younger guys in some of those skilled spots, you just hope they are readyâ€¦Iâ€™m pretty confident that they are,â€ť the fourth year KFHS head coach said. â€śThese guys seem to have as workmenâ€™s mentality.
The Bulldogs will face a rigorous season opener when KFHS heads to Omak to play the Pioneers of the Caribou-Trail League on Friday night. Omak returns a key running back and several other starters from a team that made the State 1A playoffs last season.
Game time is 7 p.m.
Sept. 2â€”At Omak, 7 p.m.
Sept. 9â€”At Tonasket, 7 p.m.
Sept. 16â€”Reardan home, 7 p.m.
Sept. 23â€”Davenport home (Homecoming), 7
Sept. 30â€”Oroville home, 7 p.m.
Oct. 7â€”At Lind-Ritzville, 7 p.m.
Oct. 14â€”At Springdale, 7 p.m.
Oct. 21â€”At Liberty, 7 p.m.
Oct. 28â€”Colfax at Kettle Falls, 7 p.m.
Nov. 4â€”CTL Crossover