Deeper Loggers expect to be improved
BUTTE FALLS — Despite experiencing a winless season in his first campaign as a varsity coach, Darren Kinyon's enthusiasm never wavered.
The former Pop Warner youth coach took over a struggling Butte Falls program in 2013 that was lacking depth, experience and talent.
"It was a challenge but an amazing experience," said Kinyon. "It was probably one of the most rewarding years I've had coaching. The improvement from the first game to the last was phenomenal, and the kids bought into the program and put their trust in me."
Because of the OSAA realignment, Butte Falls finds itself in a different division of District 2 than rival Prospect. The district was divided into seven-team East and West divisions. The Loggers, in the West, will open the season against East-division Prospect.
Kinyon had to take a step back when he began to work on fundamentals because much of the team had never played before. Thus the squad has a better foundation to begin the season than the previous year.
With 18 players showing up for preseason practice this year, Kinyon seems to have turned around, at least, the depth issue.
"I have a different coaching philosophy and the kids responded," said Kinyon. "I tried to have a positive attitude. The kids are happy to be at practice. It's a thousand percent different than last year."
Luke McGonagle and Alex Cool-Hunsaker are expected to be important performers on both sides of the ball.
McGonagle, a 6-foot-4 junior, took over as quarterback for Cool-Hunsaker part way into the season and showed potential.
"Luke has a lot of promise as a passer," said Kinyon. "He's tall, has a good arm and runs hard. He has some real ability at that position."
Cool-Hunsaker adapted to the switch to running back successfully and was the Loggers' leading rusher. The senior demonstrated lots of determination and leadership.
Wil Bateman, another hard-nosed ball carrier, returns as a key component in the Loggers' double-wing power I attack.
Guard Aiden Cool-Hunsaker, the only returning starter on the line, will be joined by center James Bush, freshman guard Jimmy Kinyon — the coach's son — and 286-pound junior guard Matt Palemino.
Alex Cool-Hunsaker and Bateman will be key targets coming out the backfield in the passing game, and ends Spencer Schofield and Tyler Herzog will add to the aerial offense. Speedy freshman Issic Tery should see some action as a receiver.
"We want to have a more balanced offense," said coach Kinyon. "We want to keep teams honest. You can't just do one thing. Last year we were really limited."
Butte Falls is switching from a three-man alignment to a four-man front on defense to get better penetration. Mike McNabb and the younger Kinyon are slated for duty on the inside, with Adam Carlisle, Palemino and Herzog filling end duties.
The strength of the Loggers' defense should be at linebacker with hard hitters Alex Cool-Hunsaker and Bateman.
In the defensive secondary, a combination of Scofield, McGonagle, Tery and Tim Wheele will see playing time.
Keeping fresh bodies on the field should add to the effectiveness of a defense that surrendered an average of 46 points per game in 2013.
"I think we'll hold our own just fine and we expect some wins in there," said Kinyon. "We had heart last year but now we have more ability and knowledge of the game. We have nowhere to go but up."
Reach reporter Frank Silow at 541-776-4480, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org