Wolverines are known for their surprising strength given their small stature, a trait that the Friday Harbor Wolverine football team will be relying on this year with a young team of just 27 players.
The team also has a new coach, Garrett Holmes, who has replaced Richard Ledford. Holmes has been the assistant coach for the past two years at Friday Harbor High School, giving him familiarity with the football program. Holmes played football in his college years at University of Oregon, as well as coaching strength and conditioning for two years there.
“We’re looking to improve, we have high expectations but I just want to see effort and competition,” Holmes said of his team. “If we can get people to compete and play hard, if I feel like they do that, I’m satisfied. As a coach that’s all you can really ask.”
Holmes said last year’s team was solid and almost made it to the playoffs as well as beating Bellingham in their last game of the season, a satisfying triumph.
Seniors are an important aspect to have on a football team, Holmes said, to help give the freshman and sophomores guidance. This year’s team has seven seniors, Connor Brown, Jess Hargrove, Jesse Kolowitz, Luke Stromberg, Thomas Synoground, Cole Thomas and Ben Ware.
“I think we have a really good, tight group of young men this year,” Holmes said. “They seem to stick together well which is good, because we’re going to have to face some adversity, that’s just the way it is. Certainly team-wise it seems to be a real cohesive group and good senior leadership. The few seniors we have are really dynamic leaders.”
Strong senior leadership is one thing that Lopez football players brought with them when they merged teams with the Orcas Island Vikings, who had a 42-6 win over the Wolverines during the 2015 Island Cup Sept. 5. The team also lost to visiting team Concrete in a Sept. 11 match.
This year’s Wolverine team was too small to have a junior varisty team like they have had in years past, but Holmes said that the number of players will go up a bit after the start of the season due to student players meeting necessary grade requirements. The Wolverines are currently in the 2B class, the smallest division of 11-man football.
When looking at the season ahead, Holmes said the team has its work cut out for them, but is looking forward to it.
“I plan on learning a lot, and I think I have a pretty good rapport with the kids, so we can learn together and move forward.”