Tenino hopes to get more out of its passing game

tenino footballBy Gail Wood

Devante Harris proved last season he’s got the legs to be a quarterback.

Now, the Tenino junior wants to prove he’s also got the arm. Harris’ ability to become a double threat will go a long way in determining how the Beavers do this season.

“Devante was really a good running quarterback for us,” Tenino coach Jeff Zenisek said. “He did a really good job. He was an all-purpose player for us.”

Besides quarterback, Harris also started at defensive back, earning honorable mention all-league honors. He also returned punts and kicks.

“He put up some pretty good numbers,” Zenisek said. “But he wasn’t really a good passer. He’s gotten a lot better.”

Besides hard work, Harris’ improvement can be credited to insightful coaching. Tenino’s new quarterback coach is Mike Dunbar, a former college coach and longtime friend of Zenisek. Dunbar and Zenisek coached together at Central Washington and at Northern Iowa.

When Dunbar retired, Zenisek asked him if he would be interested in assisting at Tenino.

“We’ve stayed in touch,” Zenisek said. “We’ve been buddies. He retired from college coaching, so it just worked out great. He wanted to stay with it.”

Dunbar now lives in DuPont and makes the 40-minute drive each day to practice.

“It’s really helped Devante because Mike has coached quarterbacks at the college level,” Zenisek said. “We’ll see. The odd thing now is we can’t catch it. We didn’t have to catch it last year. It never got to us.”

Zenisek made his own return to coaching last year after a four-year hiatus. In 1995, Zenisek, with Jon Kitna at quarterback, coached Central Washington to a national championship.

“I loved it. I loved being back coaching,” said Zenisek, who is also Tenino’s athletic director. “It’s my calling. I missed it. I enjoyed working wit the kids.”

Last season when Tenino went 4-6, Harris was an emergency fill-in at quarterback when a senior-to-be player quit the team. Harris then got hurt before the season began and Zack Chamberlain started the first two games of season at quarterback even though he was just a freshman.

“We had a quarterback flake out on us last year,” Zenisek said. “He was starting for us and then after the jamboree he just disappeared. We never saw him again. We had to come up with a quarterback. First it was Devante. Then Zack took over the reigns. He started to emerge as a leader and the kids rallied around him.”

But Chamberlain got hurt after two games and Harris moved back into the starting spot.

Chamberlain is now a running back.

“Zack is a tough competitor,” Zenisek said.

Tenino returns three starters at running back. Darrin Love, Jacob Coffman and Tyler Cavin are all speedy receivers.

“Skilled guys we’re pretty good at. That’s our expertise,” Zenisek said. “We’ve just got to work on throwing the ball. We didn’t throw it much last year.”

While Zenisek is excited about his talent at the skilled positions, he’s worried about the depth in his offensive line.

“We graduated three seniors in our offensive line,” Zenisek said. “So that’s our weak spot right now. We just have to get them playing together.”

Ben Peterson, a 6-foot-3, 210-pound junior, is the cornerstone to that line. Peterson was honorable mention all-league.

Zenisek said Montesano, which is coming off a league championship season, again looks tough. He thought Elma had some talented players and was an improved team. He said Rainier is always physical and both Rochester and Forks have new coaches.

“It’s a tough, tough league,” Zenisek said. “But you want it to be.”

Tenino Beavers


Head coach: Jeff Zenisek, second season.


Last year’s record: 4-6, lost to Hockinson in a crossover game in final game of the season.


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


Returning starters: Darrin Love, WR,/DB 5-11, 155, sr; Zack Chamberlain, RB, 5-10, 170, soph; Jacob Coffman, WR/DB, 5-9, 155, sr; Devante Harris QB/DB, 5-9, 165, jr., honorable mention all-league defensive back; Tyler Cavin, WR/LB, 5-10, 160, sr;  Aaron Burch, OL/DL, 6-0, 205, jr; Ben Peterson, OL/DL 6-3, 210, jr, honorable mention all-league.


Coach’s comments: We’ve got some good team speed. We’ve just got to have offensive line grow. That’s our weak spot. A lot of guys . Skilled guys we’re pretty good at. We have to work on throwing ball.

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