Rainier, Northwest Christian counting on new faces

By Gail Wood

A couple of new faces are expected to make a difference at both Rainier and Northwest Christian.

At Rainier, coach Jeff Johnson got a helping hand when Phil Acord unexpectedly showed up, transferring from River Ridge. Acord, 5-foot-11, 225-pound junior, gives Johnson that fifth starter in the offensive line he was missing.

At Northwest Christian, Jimmy Kim, a 6-foot, 245-pound junior, is turning out for football for the first time, giving coach Ben Briggs some help in the offensive and defensive line.

“He’s got some marshal arts background,” Briggs said. “That’s where he gets his athleticism.”

Kim was born in Korea, lived in Canada for several years and recently moved here.

“He’s picking it up pretty fast,” Briggs said.

Briggs is hoping that’s true for the rest of his team. Of the 18 players turning out, 10 are “rookies,” the Navigators coach said. The same could also be said of Briggs, who is in his first season as head coach.

After working as an assistant at Northwest Christian since the program started in 2006, Briggs replaces Pete Fulton, the former Timberline High School coach who started the program at Northwest Christian.

“I have no idea how we’re going to do,” Briggs said. “We’ve got a lot of new guys. We’ve got a lot to learn in the first couple of weeks. We’re starting with a blank slate. There’s a lot of fundamentals to get in, but they’re doing a good job.”

Rainier, with 32 players turning out, also has a lot of rebuilding to do. The Mountaineers has just four returning starters on offense and five on defense.

A pair of first-team all-league players – cornerback Dalton Delio and lineman Buddy Whisman – are the cornerstones of the team’s makeover. Whisman worked hard in the weight room in the off season and is bench pressing 320 pounds.

Both Rainier and Northwest Christian will be counting on youth to help fill the gaps. With the Navigators, Briggs figured the Sanders twins will start even though they’re just freshmen.

“They should develop and do very well,” Briggs said.

 

Rainier Mountaineers

 

Coach: Jeff Johnson

 

Last year’s record: 5-5, lost to Stevenson in the playoffs in the first round.

 

Assistant coaches: Todd Cordova, defensive coordinator; Robert Shaw, quarterbacks, linebackers; Steve Miller, d-line, running backs; Johnson, DBs and o-line.

 

Number of returning starters: 3 on offense. 4 on defense.

 

Returning starters: Dalton Delio, WR, CB, all-league corner, 6-1, 170, sr; Devin Ducharme, o-line, starter on defense, 6-2, 200, sr.; Ryan Cordova, o-line, tackle, also starts at LB, 6-0, 210, sr; Buddy Whisman, o-line, d-line, all-league lineman, 6-0, 285, sr.; Mac Shaw, LB, 6-0, 200, honorable mention, jr; Cameron Macrae, LB, 6-1, 180, sr.;

 

Top newcomers: Phil Acord, o-line, 5-11, 225, jr., transfer from River Ridge and was a part-time starter.

 

Coach’s summary comments about this season: I’ve got a good corp group of kids. They’ve been working hard. Our expectations are they should compete with all the work the coaches have done in the off season they better. The weight room contributes to the durability To begin with our o-line was a concern. But now that we have a transfer and we’ve got some kids who are stepping up and competing. Now we feel pretty confident our offensive line is going to be as good if not better than our offensive lines in the past.

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