The Pullman football team put on an offensive spectacle in 2018, piling up more than 40 points per game and surpassing 3,000 passing yards en route to a 7-3 record.
The Greyhounds’ brand of football was known for its knack to pack on the yardage in chunks. In a 41-23 win against Lakeside, receiver Isaiah Strong amassed 230 yards on just six catches — something not out of the ordinary last season.
The plan this year? More of the same.
“We just have a lot of guys who every time they touch the ball, they have the opportunity to score,” Pullman coach David Cofer said. “You can expect us to be pretty explosive on the offensive end as far as big plays go.”
The Greyhounds must replace graduated quarterback Konner Kinkade, but return Strong, fellow senior receiver Sam Tingstad and three starters on the offensive line.
They also bring in Garfield-Palouse lineman Jacob Anderson, essentially a fourth returning starter, and dynamic basketball star Ethan Kramer — who hasn’t played football since his freshman year — at receiver.
The biggest question mark on offense is at quarterback.
The fall camp battle between junior Carson Coulter and sophomore Riley Pettit was halted when Coulter went down with a knee injury in the second week of practice. Cofer said Coulter should return later in the season, but for now the job is Pettit’s.
“He’s got a good frame — he’s 6-foot-3 which allows us to attack the middle,” Cofer said of Pettit. “He’s looked solid in practice.”
Luckily for Pettit, he’ll have playmakers all around him and a solid line to ease his transition under center.
Cofer said Pullman’s offensive line is one of the best he’s seen.
Returning are seniors Jimmy Gray (6-3, 290 pounds), Azo Elsahati (6-1, 270) and Simon Brannan (6-3, 230) to go along with the addition of Anderson (6-3, 250). Anderson is playing for Pullman because Gar-Pal is not fielding a team this year.
“I feel like with those guys up front, we can stay multi-dimensional for the full season,” Cofer said. “There’s going to be a lot of pressure on them, but I think they can handle it because they’re experienced.”
At running back, the ’Hounds will rely on sophomore Evan Strong and junior Jason Tran.
Cofer said Evan Strong, Isaiah’s brother, will be more of a speed back, while Tran will act as a power back.
On defense, the focus will be getting after the quarterback.
“I really like some of our new pressure packages,” Cofer said. “I really think we’re going to be able to get to the quarterback. That is everything on defense — being able to disrupt rhythm and timing with the QB.”
In the secondary, Isaiah Strong will move from cornerback to safety, allowing him to be more of a field general in the middle, Cofer said.
Pullman opens the season at 7 p.m. Friday at Lakeside High in Nine Miles Falls.
The Eagles are a familiar opponent — Pullman opened against Lakeside last season.
Cofer and Lakeside coach Devin Bauer were assistants together at Pullman under head coach Bill Peterson in 2008 and remained on the staff together until Bauer left for Lakeside in 2013.
“Going to their place, I know they’re going to play us competitively,” Cofer said. “They’re well-coached. It’s a really good matchup for us.
“If you look at the history of opening with Lakeside ... they’re always really competitive.”
Coach — David Cofer (3rd year)
Last year’s record — 7-3 overall, 3-1 in Great Northern League
Key returners — Bogey Perkins, sr., QB/LB; Isaiah Strong, sr., WR/DB; Sam Tingstad, sr., WR/DB/K; Simon Brannon, sr., OL/DL; Azo Elsahati, sr., OL/DL; Jimmy Gray, sr., OL/DL; Ryan Colon Fee, sr., FB/DE; Ali Alabaqshi, sr., OL/DL; Ryan Lamoureux, sr., OL/DL; Carson Coulter, jr., QB/QB; Mason Emerson, jr., WR/DB; Zack Farnsworth, jr., TE/DE; Timmon Friel, jr., TE/DL; Joel Moore, jr., OL/LB; Jason Tran, jr., RB/LB; Justin Tran, jr., WR/DB; Tanner Richartz, jr., OL/LB; Gabe Westensee, jr., OL/DL; Kyle Volk, jr., OL/DL.
Games are at 7 p.m.
Sept. 6 — at Lakeside (Nine Mile Falls)
Sept. 13 — North Central
Sept. 20 — at Moscow
Sept. 27 — Black Hills
Oct. 4 — East Valley
Oct. 11 — at Clarkston
Oct. 18 — West Valley
Oct. 25 — at Othello
Nov. 1 — at Cheney
Stephan Wiebe can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter at @StephanSports.