New-look Timberwolves bringing energy, enthusiasm | Football
Last updated 9/6/2019 at Noon
Don’t tell the Jackson football team that this is a rebuilding or transition year.
The Timberwolves haven’t lowered their expectations even with the graduation of nine all-league players, including the team’s top running back, three key linemen, longtime head coach Joel Vincent, and all but one of his coaching staff.
New coach Mason Siddick was upbeat following Jackson’s performance at a jamboree last week at Everett Stadium.
“I was definitely happy with the way we competed as a football team,” Siddick said after the Wolfpack scrimmaged against Inglemoor and Lynnwood.
Siddick spent five seasons as an assistant coach at Carroll College, a NAIA school located in Helena, Montana, where he also played football. The last two years Siddick was an assistant coach at Inglemoor and Snohomish high schools.
Wolfpack senior Garrett Holden also was impressed by the play of his teammates. He noted that some of the team’s returners weren’t able to play in the jamboree.
“A lot of the younger guys had to step it up,” said Holden, a first-team, all-league wide receiver. “It was pretty exciting to watch them and see how they could perform at the next level.”
Junior Nathan Clark saw action at quarterback last season after senior Ben Olesen went down with an injury in late September. Clark doesn’t see Jackson’s youth or new coaching staff as impediments to success.
“We have a great coaching staff and our players are motivated,” Clark said. “We have talent. We’re just going to come into the season and compete in every game. We have a good chance to be better than what people think we can be.”
Siddick sees the Timberwolves embracing what might be considered an underdog role.
“I could easily take the normal route of hey there’s that three-year plan so to speak,” Siddick said. “We want to take as many steps forward this year and see where the chips fall.
“I’m not looking at this year as just a rebuild. We’re coming to compete. Our intention is to upset everybody.”
The first-year Jackson coach was born in Zimbabwe and moved to the United States with his family in 2001. He graduated from Lake Washington High School. As a player at Carroll College, Siddick was a co-captain of the 2010 team that won a national championship.
Holden admits the transition to Siddick and his staff has been challenging since he spent all of his high school career under Vincent. But he’s been impressed by Siddick’s energy and enthusiasm.
“He makes people excited and want to be here,” Holden said. “He brings an emotional side to the game.”
Clark remembers Siddick coming to the weight room in the days after he was hired as head coach. The numbers weren’t great when Siddick first arrived but soon word got out and people started showing up.
“He motivated us to get our friends and teammates out there,” Clark said. “It’s been great having the new coaches come in. It’s a fresh start.”
Even with some of the changes Siddick has brought to the passing game, Clark feels comfortable with the new system.
“Other than terminology, it’s been pretty similar to last year,” Clark said. “I have a lot of experience from the spread offense from last year. There are some new plays. It’s a lot bigger playbook in my opinion, so there’s a lot more to learn. You keep your head in the playbook and learn all the plays.”
Siddick said that Clark was a clear choice to be the week one starter.
“He’s done everything that we’ve asked of him at that position,” Siddick said. “It comes down to mechanics number one, to the understanding of the offense and knowing the progression and the reads we’re looking for and just the overall way he conducts himself as an individual. His pocket presence is good. We felt like as a coaching staff he gives us the best chance to be successful.”
Clark has two standout wide receivers in Holden and junior Kenan Quill, who also plays quarterback. Siddick plans to run a power run game similar to last year. Senior Joshua Aho, junior Brendan Sandico, and junior Jack Barclay saw limited action in the backfield last season.
“Now they’re going to be taking a bigger workload,” Holden said.
The increased workload starts this week as Jackson hosts Stanwood in both teams’ season opener at 5 p.m., Friday, Sept. 6, at Everett Stadium.