Prep football: Jordan Beetdiggers preview
No one can accuse the Jordan offense of being anything less than wildly productive in recent years.
So if a new coach comes to the school, incumbent quarterback Crew Wakley might be expected to be a little bit worried about how his role might change after throwing for 3,509 yards as a junior last year.
But Wakley shouldn’t be too worried because new coach Kaleo Teriipaia isn’t.
“We’re more balanced because we have a run threat now,” said Teriipaia, who was an assistant at Utah State last year before moving south to be closer to his wife’s family.
Balance is something Teriipaia is focusing on throughout the team.
“We’ll definitely have a potent offense,” Teriipaia said. “The only difference is we’ll have a defense to match. We’ve got a young team, which looks good for the future. But the seniors we do have, there’s definitely some playmakers there.”
Behind center • One reason why Wakley (6 foot 2, 190 pounds) shouldn’t be concerned about a more run-oriented attack is because he’s likely to be a big ballcarrier himself. In fact, Wakley led the team with 1,356 yards on the ground last year. “He likes to run the ball,” Teriipaia said. “He’s one tough SOB. We’re glad he’s on our side.” Wakley did throw for 38 touchdowns in 2016, but the plan is get Jacob Shaver (5-9, 180) the ball through traditional handoffs. Shaver played as a slot receiver as well as cornerback last year, but the new coach plans on making running back his sole position.
Ball hawks • With the graduation of Isaiah Jackson and Spencer Curtis, the Beetdiggers could be expected to have a major dropoff at receiver. But senior Ben Lisk (6-1, 170) is ready to step into the fold, according to Teriipaia, as well as senior Conner Hughes (6-1, 170). Hughes, tight end Noah Hennings (6-2, 210) and, on defense at free safety, junior Hunter Swapp (5-11, 170) will transfer the ball-snagging skills they’ve picked up in baseball over to the gridiron.
In the trenches • A couple of returning starters are back on the O-line, which will be led by three-year first-team tackle Ryan Mower (6-0, 230) as well as Griffin Etulain (6-1, 240), a consistent senior at center. They’ll get help by a couple of seniors, Nick Cobbley (6-3, 275) and Thomas Williams (6-3, 270), who saw limited time last year. Williams also will be in the middle of things defensively at nose guard, where he’ll be flanked by relative newcomers Soni Vunipola (6-0, 240), a senior, and junior Keti Bloomfield (6-0, 280).
Hit men • Beau McRae (5-9, 175) has played a variety of roles during his four years as a Beetdigger. He’ll be at linebacker in his final year perhaps joined by talented sophomore Steve Street (5-11, 160). Jordan’s leading tackler last year was Tigo Liuzzi (5-10, 170), who had 76 total tackles (61 solo) as a junior safety. “He loves to come up and hit people,” Teriipaia said. Swapp will provide like-minded company at safety. “He’s the fastest guy on the team and will throw his head at anyone. He doesn’t know how to slow down,” Teriipaia said.
Key returners • Crew Wakley, Sr. (QB); Beau McRae, Sr. (LB); Tigo Liuzzi, Sr. (SS); Ryan Mower, Sr. (OT)
Key losses • Isaiah Jackson, WR; Spencer Curtis, WR; Alec Kener, LB; Alec Evans, RB
The next wave • Ben Lisk, Sr. (WR); Thomas Williams, Sr. (NG/OL); Hunter Swapp, Jr. (FS); Steve Street, Soph. (LB)
Kaleo Teriipaia is from the class of 1993.