Numbers down at Columbia/Inchelium
If Columbia-Inchelium plans to be a factor in the Northeast 1B (eight-man) football race this fall, the Timberwolves are going to have to get it done with fewer players.
Chuck Wyborney, in his 21st season coaching at either Columbia High or for the Columbia-Inchelium combine (third season), has only 15 players out this season (eight from Columbia and seven from Inchelium).
C-I, who finished a disappointing 3-7 last season, should see improvement in that bottom line this fall, low numbers or not.
“Those are the lowest numbers we have had,” Wyborney, a Columbia High grad and former player for the Lions, said. “But we will be more competitive. This past week of practice was one of the most rewarding that I have experienced since I’ve been doing this. The kids got significantly better from the first week to the second. Seeing that kind of progress is a lot of fun and very rewarding for a coach.”
Berg, Myers will assist T-Wolves
Wyborney, who will be assisted once again by Tom Berg and Brian Myers, said that there was some attrition and a few kids off last year’s team that opted out this fall. But enrollment numbers are down at both schools (approximately 40 high school students at Columbia and 38 at Inchelium).
The upbeat Wyborney is confident that low numbers or not, there is still enough talent in the tank to be competitive.
“We have some good kids,” added Wyborney, the superintendent/principal at Columbia School. “It’s just a depth issue. I’ve never had a team in 21 years that has had a lot of depth.”
The strength of this year’s C-I team could be up front, where there is both experience and size. Clearing the way for a mostly untested backfield will be Roger Finley, a 6-2, 240-pound sophomore who started a couple of games last season and who has “put on about 30 pounds of muscle” in the off-season, according to his coach; Ethan Reynolds, a 6-0, 280-pound junior who saw very little playing time last season, but who will anchor the interior; Josh Flett, a 5-10, 230-pound sophomore. At one end will be Curtis McDowell, a junior varsity returner (6-0, 160 pounds). At the other end will be sophomore Quintin Holford, a 5-9, 150-pounder.
“Curtis is having a great pre-season so far,” Wyborney said.
Move to tailback
In the backfield, Wyborney’s son, Dustin, a 6-2, 190-pound senior, returns at quarterback. But because of a lack of depth at the running back position, Wyborney will likely be moved to tailback.
Quarterbacking the Timberwolves will be 6-0, 230-pound Thomas Cohan.
Fullback will likely be returning varsity performer Dustin Elliott (seventh in the State 1B 100 meters last spring).
Another backfield candidate is Noah Zehtmerer, a 5-9, 160-pound sophomore.
Wyborney see’s a new resolve and commitment in the C-I camp so far.
“We definitely underachieved last season,” Wyborney said. “This team just has a whole different feel to it. I think we will come together and be competitive. That (losing record) wasn’t us last season. We didn’t always play hard.”
AROUND THE LEAGUE
Wellpinit, ranked in the top five among State 1B elite last fall, is loaded again and will be the odds-on favorite to win another Northeast 1B championship.
Perennial power Cusick also has some weapons returning. And at Northport, coach Don Fox led the Mustangs to their first post-season appearance in several decades. NHS, in its third season of football, finished 6-5 last season.
“You’ve got to give Wellpinit the favorite’s tag,” Wyborney said. “We’re green in a lot of places, but I think we’ll surprise some people…and I don’t think the league is as strong, especially our division.”
Friday, Aug. 31—Republic at Inchelium, 3:15
Friday, Sept. 7—Wellpinit at Inchelium, 3:15
Friday, Sept. 14—At Soap Lake, 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 21—ACH at Columbia (Hunters), 3
Friday, Sept. 28—At Curlew, 3 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 5—Waterville at Inchelium, 3:15
Friday, Oct. 12—At Northport, 7 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 19—At Cusick, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 27—Selkirk at Hunters (Homecoming), 2
Friday, Nov. 2—Crossover