Eagle River football has lofty goals

Friday, August 24, 2018 - 13:12
  • 2018 Eagle River varsity (Star photo by Matt Tunseth)
  • Eagle River’s Quanard Cox catches a pass during practice on Aug. 6 at Eagle River High. (Star photo by Matt Tunseth)
  • Eagle River quarterback Ryan Adkins looks to throw during the team’s final two-a-day practice on Aug. 6 at ERHS. (Star photo by Matt Tunseth)
  • Eagle River’s Mason Piper makes a leaping catch during practice on Aug. 6 at Eagle River High. (Star photo by Matt Tunseth)
  • Eagle River’s Orazio Ramos runs laps during the first day of Wolves practice on Aug. 1 at Eagle River High School. (Star photo by Matt Tunseth)

Eagle River wants to make history.

A perennial also-ran, the Wolves have never reached the state playoffs since beginning varsity play in 2006. But with a speedy, senior-laden group on Yosemite Drive this season, that could change.

“We set our goal to make the playoffs,” said quarterback Ryan Adkins.

Adkins has plenty of reason for optimism. He’s one of several top players back from last year, including the likes of second-team All-Northern Lights Conference performers Mason Piper (wideout), Bryson Rollman (tight end), Ben Hamilton (lineman) and Orazio Ramos (defensive line). Also back for the Wolves are several starters from last year, including running backs Kam Williams and Michael Caywood; wideouts Justice Townsend and Quinard Cox; and linemen Daniel Bodine and Matt Bellman.

Also back for another season is second-year head coach Bob Adkins, who said he expects the team to continue building on a program that went 3-5 overall and 1-3 in the NLC last season. Coach Adkins said this year’s team has more experience than the 2017 edition.

“We don’t have a lot of depth, but we do have some returning guys with experience, and we’re counting on them for leadership,” he said.

With about 63 players in the program, depth will be at a premium for the Wolves, and health could determine just how far the team goes this year.

“A lot of it’s going to depend on keeping kids healthy,” Adkins said.

Hamilton said he’s noticed a change from last season, with players more focused and mature.

“We feel like we’re on the upswing, we feel we have a team that can do some damage,” he said.

Ryan Adkins agreed. The second-year starter said the team has worked hard in the offseason toward reaching its goal.

“We’ve just all grown up a little bit,” he said.

Adkins will lead an offense that will be a bit of a “hybrid,” that uses both conventional and Wing-T sets to move the ball. How the offense evolves, Bob Adkins said, will have a lot to do with how things go in the early season.

“We’re going to see what works, what doesn’t,” said the head coach. ‘We’re trying to get a feel for this group because we have some flexibility.”

The Wolves won’t have an easy go of things in the Northern Lights, which is the class of the Division II ranks. There are just four schools in the conference, but two of them — Soldotna and Kenai Central — have combined to win 16 consecutive state titles, including the last six by the 10-time champion Stars.

“We’re going to have our work cut out for us,” Adkins said.

Eagle River’s season begins on the road at nonconference Houston on Friday at 7 p.m. The Wolves will host Barrow on Aug. 18 before beginning conference play at home against Kodiak on Aug. 25.

Hamilton said the key to success for the Wolves will be staying focused and playing through adversity. If the team can do that, he said, he thinks the Wolves are ready to compete for their first postseason berth.

“I think physically we’re capable of going to state, it’s just mental,” he said.

2018 Eagle River Schedule

Aug. 10 Eagle River at Houston 7 p.m.

Aug. 18 Barrow at Eagle River 2 p.m.

Aug. 25 Kodiak at Eagle River 2 p.m.

Sept. 8 Soldotna at Eagle River 3 p.m.

Sept. 15 Eagle River at Kenai Central 2 p.m.

Sept. 22 Eagle River at Chugiak 2 p.m.

Sept. 29 Eagle River at South 2 p.m.

2018 Eagle River varsity

No. Name Grade

56 Dom Ables 11

8 Ryan Adkins 12

4 Ethan Baker 10

60 Matt Bellman 12

72 Daniel Bodine 12

44 Michael Caywood 12

5 Quinard Cox 12

70 Brandon Glasser 12

3 Andrew Hamilton 11

60 Ben Hamilton 12

18 Isaac Hopkins 12

17 Quinton Jackson 10

35 Tim Pennington 11

11 Mason Piper 12

63 Orazio Ramos 11

10 Hector Rivera 12

42 Shayden Robinson 12

61 Merick (MJ) Rupe 11

24 Kobe Sherman 12

9 LaDavien Simon 10

2 Justice Townsend 12

40 Josh Tripp 11

69 Jon Vertrees 12

43 JaVon Walker 123

22 Kam Williams 12

71 Colton Littledog 10

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