Under a sweltering heat wave and running through drills in a helmet, jerseys, and shorts, the W.F. West football team opened up its first day of fall camp Wednesday, and though practice had barely begun, the Bearcats made it clear they have lofty goals entering 2022.
Though, you could argue they made that statement clear when their non-league schedule dropped, featuring 2A state champion Lynden, 1A runner-up Eatonville, and Greater St. Helens League champion Ridgefield.
With a huge returning class of seniors and all-league picks from a year ago, the Bearcats didn’t shy away from those expectations they’ve set for themselves.
“They know the expectations are as high as they can be, especially this senior group,” Bearcats coach Dan Hill said. “They’re excited for the challenge, they’ve been chomping at the bit since last year.”
But as all seasons go, it all starts with fall camp, and Wednesday marked the end of the WIAA’s “dead period” in the beginning of August, and the first official day to hit the field of the fall.
As always, it’s an exciting time for players both new and experienced.
“It's awesome,” lineman William Buzzard said. “Our entire goal this year is to be overly energetic. Everyone is happy to be back out here.”
Buzzard is one of many experienced faces leading the way in the trenches for the Bearcats, along with fellow senior Daniel Matagi. The pair both earned all-league honors a year ago, and Matagi was named the Defensive MVP of the 2A Evergreen Conference.
They’ll both lead a savvy veteran group of lineman with one clear focus.
“We want to punch teams in the mouth,” Matagi said. “When you have five guys that want to punch someone in the mouth for an hour, it runs teams down.”
Buzzard added that the Bearcats want to “bully everyone.” Though returning senior quarterback Gavin Fugate and playmakers Gage Brumfield and Cameron Amoroso will turn heads with yards and touchdowns, it’ll all start up front for W.F. West, looking to make a deeper run at state after a first round exit to Prosser in 2021.
Though it’ll take a number of steps, including getting through a daunting non-league slate, and an early September matchup against perennial top dog Tumwater, the Bearcats checked off the first box of goals Wednesday, completing their first day of camp, with many more to go before a Sept. 2 date in Ridgefield with the Spudders.
“It’s great,” Hill said. “The first day of football is always exciting. You have fresh new faces coming in — kids are excited for the season and to get going. We’re excited to get out here and put all the hard work to the test.”