Colfax football coach Mike Morgan said some of the best quarterbacks to come through his program parlayed varsity experience as sophomores into a borderline telepathic connection with Morgan by the time they were seniors.
“All of our best quarterbacks have been kids who started as sophomores and continued to grow into the system, so that by the time they’re juniors and seniors, they know the system so well, that they know what I’m thinking, how I’m thinking, when it comes to running the offense. And pretty soon, they start finishing my sentences,” Morgan said.
Morgan thinks he’s found a player capable of that in junior Layne Gingerich, a quarterback who seized control of the position last year. Morgan explained how he knew Gingerich was for real.
“It was in the Freeman game (last year, Gingerich) rolled out and found a guy open that I wasn’t even looking for. And that was the moment I thought, ‘This kid has great vision and the athletic ability to make the play happen,’” Morgan said. “I remember just looking at my coaching staff and going, ‘Wow, he found him.’
“The (receiver Gingerich threw to) wasn’t even the primary (target on that play) but he snuck through the secondary and I think scored a touchdown for us. And that was the moment I knew (Gingerich) had what it takes to run our system.”
Running back Jacob Brown represents another key returner for the Bulldogs.
Brown began last season playing on the line. But the Bulldogs lacked “offensive punch” in Morgan’s words.
So they moved Brown to running back, “and in his first game (at that position, Brown) had over 100 yards rushing and made me look like a really good head coach,” Morgan said.
Morgan compared Brown to Miami Dolphins great Larry Csonka because of his “great balance.”
“He’s also not afraid of anything, and that’s the thing I like the most about him.”
Morgan said there’s a lot to like about the rest of his team, as well.
There’s the depth Colfax carries at its “X” receiver spot — with Nick Klaveano (who has the team’s best hands), Matt Hocket (a track star) and Gunnar Aune (the backup quarterback) all sharing time.
Defensively, Brown led the Bulldogs in tackles last year while Gavin Hammer was No. 2 on the team. Another player to watch, lineman Carsten Miller, notched eight tackles in 20 plays at the Bulldogs’ jamboree.
“The other teams, they couldn’t block him,” Morgan said. “(Miller) was just in beast mode. ... Carsten is short and compact and that’s what makes him so difficult to block. You can’t get a shot on him.
“Other teams are going to have to find a way to block him, because if they don’t, he’ll make life miserarble for them.”
Another lineman who will play a big role for the Bulldogs is Caden Brown, who is not related to Jacob.
“He’s the lead dog up front and while Layne will make the calls in the backfield with receivers, Caden’s the one getting everyone straightened out on that front line. He’s another quarterback on the front line.”
Senior Brandon Lustig stands 6-foot-1, weighs 195 pounds and “might be the best tight end in the league,” Morgan said. “He’s a kid who didn’t play his first two years of high school and was in my weight room as a sophomore and I said, ‘Son, you’re growing into an athlete. You need to come play football for me.’ ”
Running back Blake Holman will provide another capable set of hands for the Bulldogs.
“He’s another kid who had a really great camp for us,” Morgan said. “He’s strong and another weight room kid and I don’t — I don’t think he ever doesn’t have a smile on his face when he’s playing football.
“Always has a smile on his face. He’s super popular with our team. The young kids love him, his peers love him and he’s just a good guy.”
Another member of the Bulldogs who brings intangible benefits to the sideline, Morgan said, is his defensive coordinator, Jason Cooper.
“He loves studying football, studying film and he brings an enthusiasm to the defense,” Morgan said. “If you watch defensive coaches in the colleges and pros, they’re wild — those are the guys who jump into the piles, run up and down the sideline screaming, and coach Cooper is exactly that: That intense guy you need firing up the defense for them to make plays.”
COACH — Mike Morgan (22nd)
LAST YEAR’S RECORD — 4-5
KEY RETURNERS — Jacob Brown, jr., RB/LB; Layne Gingerich, jr., QB/DB; Nick Klaveano, sr., WR/DB; Caden Brown, sr., OL/DL; Gavin Hammer, sr., RB/LB.
Games are at 7 p.m. unless noted
Date — Opponent
Sept. 7 — vs. Wahkiakum at Liberty, 10 a.m.
Sept. 13 — vs. Freeman
Sept. 20 — at Davenport
Sept. 27 — at Heppner
Oct. 4 — at Ritzville
Oct. 11 — vs. Liberty
Oct. 18 — vs. Asotin
Oct. 25 — at Reardan