Two games into the 2013 season and the Thurston Colts football team has two losses. But there’s too much season left and too much potential on his sideline for Thurston head coach Justin Starck to relinquish any aspirations for better results. “There’s a lot to be excited about,” Starck said. “I don’t want us to feel sorry for ourselves and feel like we’re not going to get (ourselves) out of the hole. I believe we can.”
This past week has been about recuperating from a 42-41 loss to West Salem, a game in which the Colts led 41-28 with 9:52 left in the game. In the season’s first game, Thurston lost another close game, 37-34, to Aloha. A team with 27 seniors, the Colts would appear to have experience in its favor; however, just five players returned with any varsity experience. Many, even upperclassmen, are first-year players, Starck said.
Against West Salem, Starck said his team scored nearly all of its possessions until its last two. “We move the ball very consistently for the most part,” he said. “Unfortunately, we were unable to score in the last two possessions of the game. You have to be able to score when it matters most.”
Two of his team’s most important offensive players are first-time varsity players, and both are seniors: quarterback Brendin Quinn, who moved to the area last year from Washington, and wide receiver Carson Cook, who was second-team all-conference in basketball last year. Quinn is 6-foot-3 and a left-handed thrower. In the first two games, he has passed for 542 yards and completed 47 of 67 passes with four touchdowns and two interceptions. Cook, a 6-foot-3 receiver, has caught 13 passes, three for touchdowns, and a team-leading 217 yards.“(Cook) is coming on and playing as well as anyone in the state at that position,” Starck said. “His is one of the biggest surprises we have ever had.”
The ground game has fared well, too. Senior running back Roy Jackson has averaged 116 yards a game and about 8 yards a carry so far. He’s scored five of the team’s six rushing touchdowns.
While the offense has progressed, the Colts defense has labored to hold opposing offenses. The team’s leading tackler is senior linebacker Nick Egbert (16 total, 9 solo) and another senior linebacker, Gauge Hallett, has two sacks.
“It’s communication on defense. It’s tackling and assignment breakdowns with younger players and older players with less experience,” Starck said. “Week one, it was poor tackling. Week two, we had better tackling, but poor communication. We’re an inexperienced team, and it showed at the end of the games. We didn’t hold steady last week.”
This week Thurston heads to South Medford (0-2) for a Southwest Conference game. Starck says the Panthers’s short-passing game will require his defenders to stay in front of developing plays and make sure tackles. Thurston’s offense is expected to encounter a miserly defense reluctant to permit healthy running games.