The sun was shining, pads were popping, coaches were yelling and everything felt right in the world. Such was the case at Woodinville High School last Thursday, as the Falcons prepared for next week’s camp at Eastern Washington University.
From behind his dark sunglasses, Woodinville coach Wayne Maxwell flashed an eager smile. “It’s great to be back out here again, isn’t it?”
Looking to improve on last year’s 5-4 record, Maxwell likes what he’s seen in many of his players.
“Our young quarterback has looked good,” Maxwell said of junior Nick Fouch. “There’s a competition there....We’ve got three good athletes, but Nick does a nice job of the mental aspect. Obviously he’s young and hasn’t started a single game, but he has stepped up as far as understanding the offense.”
Visible on defense was linebacker Dylan Axelson. The hard-hitting junior seemed to be having a good time on the field, smacking pads and jabbering at teammates in between plays.
“Axelson is the heart of our defense,” Maxwell said. “He’s had a year to show what he can do. He has the heart of intensity and confidence, and the other kids feed off that. He’s your throwback linebacker.”
Maxwell also singled out cornerback Mitchell Jones.
“Mitchell missed all of last season with a back injury,” Maxwell said. “At corner he has looked fantastic. He was going to be our top corner last year, but when he got hurt [Ian] Biddle had to move over from safety. Mitchell is playing like he hasn’t missed a stride.”
Coming off the field at the end of practice, offensive line coach Mike Monan was asked about his youthful charges in the trenches.
“So far I’m pleased with how quick the younger kids have picked things up,” Monan said. “We’re looking good so far. We have two returning starters coming back, with Camden Hess and Duke Clinch. But we’ll have three new kids on the line. I’m happy with their production so far, and their learning has picked up — but they have to be more aggressive.”
On June 25, the Falcons will depart Woodinville at 7 a.m. and head east for Cheney and Eastern Washington University. A five-day football camp will ensue.
“It’s football 24/7,” Maxwell said. “This is our one chance to compete against other teams and scrimmage each day at camp. To find out what the kids can do in the heat of competition.”