Quickness, not size, is what makes Olympia’s Football d-line so tough


By: Gail Wood

They don’t have to be mind readers to know what the mammoth offensive tackle across from them is thinking just before the football is snapped.

That 6-foot-5, 300-pound offensive tackle is thinking “cakewalk.” He’s hardly intimidated.

Not with the Olympia’s speedy trio of Blue Smurfs lined up across from them. Carlos Moiza, Taylor Smith and Brennan Glander are all 5-foot-10ish. And Moiza is the tallest at 5-11.

“He’s thinking this is going to be like going against his younger brother,” said Glander, a defensive tackle who at 5-10, 210 pounds, looks more like a linebacker than a lineman. “He’s thinking, ‘I’ve got him.’”

But then the ball is snapped. And that offensive tackle lunges forward, missing his block.

Olympia’s Smurfs may be small. But they’re also elusively quick.

They all run 40 yards under five seconds. Moiza, a first-team all-conference selection at defensive end, is linebacker quick, running 40 yards in 4.6 seconds. He’s faster than some running backs he’ll tackle.

“Yeah, they’re bigger than me, but I try not worry about it too much,” said Smith, who weighs just about 200 pounds. “I just try to focus on what I have to do.”

For the most part, that’s getting into an opponent’s backfield, slipping into the gap and blowing up a play. Quickness is their equalizer. Rarely are Oly’s Smurfs in nose technique, where they explode straight ahead when the ball is snapped. Instead, they’re always slanting right or left, making them a moving target.

“Quickness is definitely a strength,” Bears coach Bill Beattie said about his three returning starters in the d-line. “They’re not going to overpower you. But they’re going out quick you.”

And when they leap right into the gap, the linebacker is usually scrapping left. So, while they’re usually outweighed by 80-plus pounds, the Bears’ outsized d-line has been a headache for opposing lines to block. All three are seniors are returning starters. Moiza is a three-year starter, moving into the starting lineup as a sophomore.

If any of them draw a double team, it’s mission accomplished. Then the linebacker is unblocked and free to make the tackle.

“I try to free things up for the linebacker,” Moiza said. “If our linebackers make the tackle, that’s perfectly fine with me.”

Besides quickness, they’re also strong. All three can bench over 300 pounds, with Moiza lifting 320 pounds. As a freshman, Moiza played running back and switched to the d-line when the coaches asked for volunteers to play the position.

“They put me at nose tackle my freshman year,” Moiza said. “I loved it.”

Olympia’s “Big Three” will likely do double duty this season, playing both offensive and defensive lines. Moiza and Glander will likely start both ways, rotating at the guard position.

Beattie would rather two platoon and not have two-way starters. But a lack of depth in the line has forced him to play players on both sides of the football.

“It’s a different concept for us,” Beattie said. “As coaches we’re struggling with it a little bit.”

Off last year’s team that won another league title, Olympia returns seven starters on offense, including quarterback Trevor Houser. Houser moved into the starting quarterback spot last year as a junior, leading the Bears to an 8-2 record.

“What separates him a little bit is he can do some audibles and make some good changes,” Beattie said. “He recognizes coverages very well.”

Houser has plenty of tall, sure-handed receivers to throw to. Alex Johnson, Tyrone Sanderlin and Brandon Jewell are all 6-foot-3 receivers, big targets for Houser.

Olympia also returns its two starting receivers in Cole Murphy and Dylan Reed, a pair of 5-10 targets.

“They’re smaller, so we’ll put them at the slot routes and run them underneath a little more,” Beattie said. “We’ll be able to run a pattern with our bigger guys and Trevor will actually be able to see the guy now.”

At running back, Spenser Killman, a 6-foot-1, 205-pound senior, returns after running for over 1,000 yards and scoring 21 touchdowns last season. But Killman won’t have to carry the load by himself.

“The advantage is we have six, seven quality backs this year,” Beattie said.

Nate Slosson, a 5-9, 185-pound senior, is another returning starter. Austin Roth, Casey Bond, and Kyle Alfonso have also impressed Beattie.

“We might do it by committee,” Beattie said.

The Bears open their season with two tough non-league games, playing Tumwater, the defending state 2A champs, and Capital, which reached the semifinals for the second time in four years.

“We’re excited,” Beattie said. “The first two weeks of the season we’re going to find out a lot about our team.”

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