Chiawana football has plenty of new faces - TC Herald

These aren’t going to be the Chiawana Riverhawks of 2013.

If you think that’s bad news for the defending Class 4A state football champions, think again.

Despite the graduation of 13 senior starters, the Riverhawks have all the ingredients — an experienced line on both sides of the ball, talent at the skill positions and strong special teams — for another deep playoff run.

But they’re certainly not about to make any November hotel reservations in Tacoma.

“Our team isn’t the state champions yet. We still have to prove that,” senior running back Austin Urlacher said. “I think we put in enough (off season) work. It gets pretty routine, but it’s exciting to know we have something to look forward to.”

Chiawana started fall practice Wednesday, and Riverhawks coach Steve Graff has been pleased so far with the way his team has handled itself on and off the field. The WIAA has instituted some new practice guidelines for high school football — players must go three days without pads and have no less than four days of contact before taking part in a scrimmage — that makes his life a little tougher in general.

But overall, he’s pretty happy to be back on the field.

“It’s all a vacation. Every day is a Saturday,” Graff said after Thursday’s practice at Chiawana High School. “We did a good job for the most part. We don’t have as many seniors as last year, but the ones we have did a good job meshing together with the juniors and the few sophomores we have playing.”

The Riverhawks will return a strong core of skill players that includes senior Dre Dorton, a first-team All-Mid-Columbia Conference wide receiver and kick returner; senior running back Austin Urlacher, a second-team All-MCC pick despite a season-ending injury at midseason; and tight end Christian Penny.

But the trenches will also be filled with seasoned veterans — offensive linemen Jake Martin and Trenton Steach as well as defensive linemen Penny and Juan Noyola — all of whom played key roles in Chiawana’s state title run in 2013.

But some of the new faces might be the ones making a big difference this season.

Logan Ellsworth isn’t exactly a new face. The 6-foot senior was an All-MCC punter and linebacker last year, but will take over at quarterback in 2014.

“He was our backup (QB) last year before he tore his ACL. He’s looking pretty good. He has a good arm and can run, too, when we need it,” Dorton said. “He was our freshman-year quarterback, and we always run 7-on-7, so we have that timing with him.”

Another big contributor could be Caleb Weber, a sophomore middle linebacker who will take over for his brother, Alex, who accepted a football scholarship to University of Pennsylvania.

The Riverhawks are preparing for their first game Friday, Sept. 5, when they will make the trek down the Columbia River to face Camas, the same team they defeated 27-26 in the Class 4A championship game.

“(Chiawana athletic director John) Cazier asked me if we wanted to play them, and I said sure,” Graff said. “We wanted them to come here first, but it didn’t work out that way.”

Because of the way the Riverhawks won the game — overcoming a 13-point deficit over the final 55 seconds — the Papermakers may not be too happy to see them.

“They’re obviously going to have a chip on their shoulder,” Graff said. “We’re going to get everybody’s best game regardless.”

Fall Sports Registration 2014

SPORTS REGISTRATION INFORMATION
We are pleased to announce that parents are able to register their students online through our partner company, FamilyID http://www.familyid.com/chiawana-high-school for the 2014-15 school year.
To register, you will need:
1.  Current sport physical
2.  A $20 ASB Card
3.  All athletic fines must be cleared.
4.  Have your medical insurance available to look at.
If you do not have medical insurance, you can purchase Student Accident & Sickness Coverage through Myers, Stevens, & Toohey Co.  http://www.meyers-stevens.com/
5.  If you are attending CBC, a Running Start Contract must be filled out and brought to the Athletic Office with a copy of your current CBC schedule.  You must provide proof of CBC enrollment every quarter in which you sign up for CBC classes.
6.  If you anticipate participating in summer activities, you will have to register for that sport or sports.
TURN IN YOUR PHYSICAL TO THE ATHLETIC OFFICE AND SHOW PROOF OF ASB.

Free Mouthguard and Fitting on 7/17

Free Mouth Guards for Fall Sports

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Where: Chiawana High School Wrestling Room
When: Thursday July 17, 8:00am – 11:00

Dr. Week feels that the benefit of a custom mouth guard is essential when participating in sports. She and her staff will make the mouth guards for all Fall sport athletes at no charge.

Singleton part of strong recruiting class

Jack Millikin and Craig Craker, Herald staff writers

Deion Singleton didn’t know much about the Pacific Northwest before transferring from Godby High School in Tallahassee, Fla., to Chiawana High School last summer.

After being courted by Southeastern and Atlantic Coast Conference schools, the standout defensive back didn’t have Washington State on his radar heading into his senior year.

But Singleton, who helped lead the Riverhawks to the Class 4A football state championship in the fall, signed with the Cougars during a letter-of-intent ceremony Wednesday at Chiawana High School.

“I went up for a visit (last) weekend and came in expecting to like it. It was real nice,” said Singleton, a Class 4A all-state first teamer as a wide receiver and defensive back. “What helped my decision was the coaches. Every coach seemed to love me. The players were a great set of players. This just felt right.

“I had no clue when I moved up here where I’d be going, but this environment felt so great. I couldn’t leave it.”

Singleton was named the Mid-Columbia Conference’s Most Valuable Player after making an instant impact on the gridiron for Chiawana as a two-way starter. Singleton finished second in the MCC with 36 pass receptions and 774 receiving yards. The 5-foot-10, 175-pound speedster was also a ball-hawking safety, intercepting four passes and limiting big plays on defense. Singleton was one of three in-state signings by Cougars coach Mike Leach, who called the 22-person class the best in his three recruiting seasons at Washington State.

“The thing that was important to us was to not settle on any of these guys,” Leach told the Associated Press. “We were inclined to keep the scholarship than settle on a guy.”

Leach didn’t promise playing time right off the bat, only that hard work would produce rewards. That was one of the most refreshing qualities about dealing with him, according to Singleton.

“He told me just do what you do. If you work hard, there will be a spot,” Singleton said.

Singleton wasn’t the only Riverhawks player to announce his college choice Wednesday. Alex Weber, the MCC defensive player of the year, will attend the University of Pennsylvania to continue his football career.

Weber, a 6-foot-1, 220-pounder and three-year starter, said it was the atmosphere and attitude of the Penn coaches that impressed him most.

“I just hit it off with the coaching staff. Me and the linebackers coach (Jon Dupont) got along super well. We were like long-lost friends,” Weber said. “It felt like a family already, which is kind of a big deal being so far away from home.”

Weber said his decision caught some people by surprise by forgoing the chance to play at the University of California-Berkeley or at the United States Air Force Academy.

“I had an opportunity to go Pacific-12 or Mountain West, playing in the big leagues, but I’m looking above that,” he said. “I don’t see myself having a career in the NFL. I see my opportunity over the next 40-50 years.”

In fact, Weber already has a leg up on his academic career. Not only did he graduate from Chiawana early, but he is carrying a full load out at Columbia Basin College, including courses in accounting, calculus and economics. He has already been admitted into the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, one of the most highly regarded business schools in the world.

“The median starting salary coming out of that school is 100 grand with a $30,000 bonus. The numbers are ridiculous,” Weber said. “You throw in a foreign language, and the opportunities are endless. I’ve got to look above playing football.”

That doesn’t mean he can’t have fun finishing out his career on the gridiron, where the Quakers’ defense will have a familiar feel.

“It’s kind of a funny thing. It’s a lot like Chiawana’s. They’ve got two inside backers, and it’s more of a run-stopper defense,” said Weber, who will play inside linebacker for Penn. “I really like that kind of defense. It’s kind of meant to be.”