North Thurston’s Patchin has the QB and running backs, still looking for linemen


north thurston footballBy Gail Wood

It’s not that Rocky Patchin questioned Jacob Anderson’s abilities to catch the football.

As an all-league tight end last season, the North Thurston senior proved he could both catch and block. But sometimes need trumps talent.

And Patchin, North Thurston’s all-time winningest football coach, begrudgingly moved Anderson from tight end to tackle – to fulfill a need.

“We needed a tackle,” said Patchin, who is beginning his 20th season at North Thurston and his 35th overall as head coach. “We don’t have much depth in the line.”

Fortunately, the Rams are loaded at both quarterback and running back.

Ben Broeker, a 6-foot-4 quarterback with the pinpoint passing, is back for his senior season after starting for the first time last year. Broeker’s experience and the team’s talent at wide receiver could spell trouble for opponents.

“Ben can do anything,” Patchin said. “Good play action. Great feet. He can throw the long ball and he’s got good touch. He’s definitely a college prospect.”

Broeker, who two older brothers were also quarterbacks for North Thurston, will have some sure-handed receivers to throw to.

“We’ve got four good receivers and an experienced quarterback,” Patchin said. “The passing game is going to be our strength.”

Last season when the Rams finished 5-4, Broeker threw for 1,081 yards with 13 touchdowns and just two interceptions. He completed 75 of 138 passes. Two of his favorite receivers – Matt Reid and Landon Rushton – are back. Reid, a 5-foot-8 speedster who was also an all-league defensive back, caught 29 passes for 399 yards and four TDs. Rushton, a 5-11, 165-pound senior who was all-league as a receiver, had 24 catches for 423 yards and five touchdowns. With Rushton’s breakaway speed, he’s a threat to go all the way on any catch.

The Rams lost all-league running back Lawyer Tillman, who is playing football at Southern Oregon State College this fall. But Patchin has plenty of talent coming back. Mo Manning, a 6-foot, 225-pound junior who also plays linebacker, is listed as the No. 1 running back.

Manning is backed up by Brandon Belisario, Hayden Maliska and Ande Grantham.

“It could be by committee,” Patchin said about his running backs. “We’ll be fine with our skilled positions. It’s depth in our line that we’re worried about.”

Alex Dumar is the Rams’ lone returning starter in the offensive line. And Patchin moved Dumar from tackle to center.

“We could start three sophomores,” Patchin said. “If you count our tight end, that’s four sophomores. That’s scary.”

One of those sophomores projected to start in the offensive line is Alex Rice. At 6-foot-6, 290 pounds, Rice has the size to be a starter. But he doesn’t have the experience. He turned out for football for the first time in the spring.

“He’s never played any sport before,” Patchin said. “He’s going to be really raw this year. But he’s coming.”

North Thurston starts its season Friday at Shelton.



North Thurston Football Capsule

Coach: Rocky Patchin, start of 20th season at North Thurston and 35th overall. He’s North Thurston’s all-time winningest coach and has over 180 career wins.


Last year’s record: 5-4, losing to Tumwater, Centralia, Bainbridge and Chehalis.


Assistant coaches: Pete Smith, Bill Broeker, Pat Dahl, Trevor Gentry, Keith Moffitt, Ed Smith.


Number of returning starters: 5 on offense, 6 on defense.


Returning starters: Ben Broeker, QB, 6-4, 205, sr; Matt Reid, WR/DB, 5-8, 165, sr, first-team all-league DB; Landon Rushton, WR, 5-11, 165, sr, all-league; Jacob Anderson, OL, 6-1, 230, sr, first-team all-league TE; Alex Dumar, OL, 6-0, 230, sr; Mo Manning, RB/LB; 6-0, 215, jr; Jake Sabastian, LB, 5-10, 175, sr; Zach Wilson, DL, 6-2, 220, jr; Ryan Glendenning, DL, 6-0, 205, jr, Joey Renaud, sr, first-team all-league K.


Top newcomers: Pete Machado, WR/DB, sr.; Tru Hicks, WR/DB, 6-0, 200; Brandon Belisario, RB, 5-10, 200, jr; Hayden Maliska, RB, 5-11, 200, soph; Ande Grantham, RB, 6-0, jr.


Top players lost: Lawyer Tillman, RB, now at Southern Oregon; David Plasencia, OL, Brian Zblewski, OL.


Coach’s comments: The strength of the team is the passing game. We’re not as big up front as we usually are. It’s really going to be determined on how those young linemen come. If you don’t have time to throw, you can’t throw. You’ve also got to be able to run or everyone sits back and plays pass defense. Hopefully, we’re going to be better at every position on defense. But we’re thin there, too. We have very few linemen. And we’re a school that always has had linemen

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