Sports

Beamer ready for a playoff push?

By CASEY OLSON

The Mirror

The Todd Beamer football program is going in the right direction. In their first season in the rugged South Puget Sound League South Division, the extremely young and undersized Titans put together a respectable 3-7 record. And things are pointing toward even more improvement during the 2005 season.

“Our kids have done everything we have asked of them,” Housman said. “We are much stronger and bigger. They really bought into our offseason program.”

The Titans are still a pretty young team and return seven starters on offense and only five on the defensive side of the ball.

Cole Bixenman returns for his junior year after starting a bulk of the games at quarterback as a sophomore. Bixenman proved to be a solid leader and should rack up plenty of yardage this year with Beamer’s spread offense.

Catching Bixenman’s passes will be a quartet of talented wide receivers, led by the ultra-fast Jason Johnson. During preseason workouts, the 5-foot-8, 153-pounder ran a blazing 4.4 40-yard dash. Corey Obungen, Tommie McBee and Decatur transfer Raleigh Grizzle will occupy the other spots.

Junior Mark Pridgeon and senior Sam Heck will try to replace the 1,000-plus yards that the departed Dominique Small posted last season. Pridgeon is a 150-pound speedster and will play tailback and the 5-11, 205-pound Heck will get a bulk of the load at fullback.

Beamer’s offensive line might be the most improved unit in 2005. The line will only average about 230 pounds, but Housman says the group is a lot stronger. Brandon Jerome and Elliot McFeely return and the other spots will be occupied by juniors Nick Koubel, David Tyler and Benton Brown and sophomore Evan Cook, who wears size-16 shoes.

“His upside is huge,” Housman said about the 6-1, 242-pound Cook. “I think he will grow a few more inches before it’s all said and done.”

The Beamer defense should also be improved, especially on the front seven, and will feature a lot of two-way players.

Tyler, who is returning this year after sitting out last year with a broken leg, and McFeely will start as defensive ends and Brown and Cook will play the defensive tackle positions. The linebacking corps all return from last year in McBee, Heck and Rodney Dunlap.

“Those seven guys have a chance to be pretty good,” Housman said.

The defensive backfield will include Pridgeon, Grizzle, Chris Thiemer, Obungen and sophomore Dade Glaser.

“Our goal is to have a winning record,” Housman said. “We want to put ourselves in the upper division of the league and I think that’s possible. We want to compete for a playoff spot.”

The Titans open their season Friday night against the SPSL South favorite Curtis Vikings in University Place. It’s the first in an ultra-rugged three-game start to Beamer’s season. The Titans host perennial power Bethel Sept. 9 and travel to Puyallup Sept. 16.

“You have to play those teams sometime, I guess,” Housman said. “Curtis is just loaded and Puyallup and Bethel have the tradition. So we’ll see what happens.”

Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565, sports@fedwaymirror.com

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