Hawks open pomising season
The Federal Way Hawks look like they're ready to launch another successful junior league football campaign this fall.
Of the five teams, none won the championship, but the Sweet Peas were in it, and the Midgets lost a second round playoff game and the 89'ers lost in the second round.
So, who's going to be the best back?
The Sweet Peas look the part.
"We have a pretty good group," said head coach Jim Orum. "We have a smaller group than last year, 61 kids to only 52 this year. Last year we had power, this year we have speed. We will still be competitive. We will get back to the championship again.
"We have a good group of coaches," said Orum. "Johnny Miles is our defensive coordinator. T.C. Smukalla is the offensive coordinator."
Myles is the one who took the 2000 Pee Wees (oldest division) to Las Vegas where they won after winning the JFL championship. He has four titles in the JFL, just about all the different divisions, too.
He lets everyone know why the coaches are good.
"We love what we are doing," said Myles. "We put our heart into it."
"Quality coaches can put the right kids in the right spots," Orum said. "If you can do that, you will be successful."
The players to watch are quarterback Ahmari Underwood and running backs Shaquin McLain, Niko DeLacruz and Lloyd Butler. So the backfield has speed and is deep at the skill positions. Seven or eight deep at that position' according to Orum, is going to be Keenan Curran.
Curran was singled out as an example by Johnny Myles after a recent two hour practice at Lakota Junior High School.
Curran was sure that Myles was correct in setting him apart.
"I believed it," said Curran, 10. "I didn't care that he said it. A lot of people would say I deserved it. I get good grades in school. I try my best in all competition."
Myles explained why Curran is a cut above.
"He knows how to read defenses and fill the holes and block," said Myles, who was volunteering time after practice for any player to come over to the hills to run a little more. About 75 came over.
Myles, speaking about Curran as he stood in front for a lot of players on one knee, was not singled out by Myles to say he was better than everyone else.
"He's tough and he's not big," said Myles. "He works hard, that's why he's good. He works hard on everything. But he's not better than you, nobody is better than you. If you ask me I will tell you I am better than you. Don't let me be better than you."
Myles' motivational influence is second to nobody.
"I want to get them ready for six quarters. That is what I am hoping and praying we can do. Football is four quarters but if it is tied they go to OT. If we lose, it will be from mental mistakes, not physical mistakes."
There's going to be a lot of hard workers out there, including Myles' son, Johnny Myles III, Kendrick Brown and Taylor Strickland.
Orum said the team will benefit from players coming up through the division ranks.
"We have a lot of 89ers," he said. "They are nine years old, having three years experience."
The team with the next chance to go far in JFL for the Hawks would be Garrett Culp's Pee Wees. A lot of those players were on his 2002 championship team when they were all together in the Sweet Peas division.
"We missed the playoffs by one game last year," said Culp. "This is the core of our championship team from 2002. I've known a lot of these guys for five or six years now. We are not having to teach them much football. We are teaching them our system."
The leaders for this team will start with quarterback/running back Johnny Duncan.
"He's one of the reasons I came back," said Culp. "He's going to be something special when he gets older."
Duncan will tell you how special he thinks this team will be.
"It's a good team, a lot of skill, good linemen," he said.
And what personally will Duncan do for this team?
"Be a leader," he said.
Fair to say Culp and Duncan are on the same page, as Culp was telling Duncan a play as Duncan ran over to the sidelines in an offense versus defense scrimmage.
Duncan finished the final five words of the play in the sentence.
"Remember you are giving it to two, and faking it to three," by Culp.
"We have good skill and good coaching. Our offensive line coach, Alan Anderson, is probably the best in the league."
The Pee Wees will have players that really want it besides Duncan. Like Malo Tuinei, who was coming over to the coach to ask if he could do something more after the regular two hour practice ended.
"Coach, can those that want to go run up the hill (with Myles), can they," he asked.
"Yeah, after practice," said Tunei.
Several of the Pee-Wees went over to run.
Some of the leaders that Culp looks to be vocal and daring and dynamite on the gridiron include linebacker and lineman, Bret Anderson.
"He's the best lineman we got," said Culp. "He's a good leader too. When I'm conditioning my athletes, as I call them , the running backs, quarterback, receivers, Bret runs with them."
There are others mentioned by Culp as leaders.
Brandon Berry is a quarterback and wide receiver, Niko Curran a receiver and Patrick Abay a lineman. Gabriel Jackson Freeman is a running back and defensive back.
There are returners that hopefully learned a few things last year and they include Charles Pellum, Matt Turner, Jesus Gonzalez and Ryan Northern.
Then there's the whole team and what the outlook is per Culp's prediction.
"We should be in there, if we stay focused and we stay healthy," he said.
The Midgets may be the next best team for a high prediction out of the five divisions in the Hawks organization.
They were 6-2 for the regular season, won their first playoff game and lost their second round game.
"We have a totally different coaching staff, a totally different set of expectations," said James Wilson. "All the coaches have at least played semipro ball. We are definintely expecting a championship season."
The players that Wilson will bank his prediction on include quarterback Clark Colvin, running back Carey Carver (who may also throw the pigskin), Robert Shelby at wide receiver and running back and receiver Jesse Barnhart.
"Those are my main leaders," said Wilson.
There are returners too, lending the "experience" word into the content. Bearon Priess, Yoniness Jennings, Deon Watkins, Douglas Parker, Alex Davis, Deidric Harris and Joe Wholecheese.
There are the fastest players of Carver, Shelby, Colvin, Tyrell Jordan and Darius Williams.
"All those players do 20 yards in three second splits," said Wilson.
"We are going to have a balanced attack. It's not going to be like Bantams last year where constantly we are running down their throats. You need a short and long passing game, down and out plays. This is pretty much the level where you begin to prepare them for high school."
The Bantams are a team that could do well. They only won one game last year, but they have some things going for them this time around.
"We have a lot of players from Sweet Peas (division age group lower) that went 5-2 last year," said coach Otis Brown. "We have a lot of veterans, where we had a lot of youth last year."
Players Brown mentioned were running back De'Anis Lyles and quarterback Roosevelt Jones. The rest are Jordan and Tanner Day, two good defensive players, according to Brown.
Also at running back is Adonis Fletcher, who should make an impact along with J.T. Capers.
The 89ers are ready to go under Spencer Swanson's leadership for this year's age group.
"We sent up 19 kids from last year's team to Sweet Peas," said Swanson. "We have only one returning starter, Ryan Gnoinksy. We have 11 returners."
Some that are expected to step up are Christian Aragon, Tyler Martinez and Malachi McNeal.
Swanson says this team needs experience.
"Talent is not big, but hopefully we'll make up for it in heart. We'll see. Last year we made the playoffs and lost to Kent in the semifinals."