When Jeff Nelson has reviewed his team’s performance after each of its first three games this season, even with the most critical approach he can’t find much to harp on, save for a penalty here and there.
“I don’t know how to put this,” Nelson, the Odessa Tigers head coach, said, “but we’re pretty good. Better than last year.”
And that’s saying something. Odessa is the defending 1B state champions and cemented itself as such with a record-breaking 40-point first quarter en route to a landslide victory last December to cap an undefeated 14-0 season.
It was Odessa’s first state championship since 1993, but Nelson is no stranger to the stage. He won five state titles as the head coach at Lacrosse-Washtucna, a stretch that featured perhaps the most prolonged dominance 1B has ever seen.
Through three games, not only have the 3-0 Tigers not skipped a beat (they’ve outscored opponents 230-14), but Nelson says the senior-led group is also hungrier than last year. The Tigers' senior running back tandem of Marcus King, the 1B player of the year as a junior, and Josh Clark have not been stopped.
Both have scored nearly every time they’ve touched the ball. Clark had two carries for two touchdowns in a 66-0 win over Liberty Bell, and a reception for another long touchdown. King had a touchdown on two carries.
And quarterback Camden Weber has thrown fewer than 10 passes on the season without an incompletion.
“One or two of them have not gone for touchdowns,” Nelson said. “He’ll only throw two or three passes a game and the game’s already at 40 points and he’s out.”
Odessa will face more challenging competition when it goes up against Almira-Coulee-Hartline and Entiat later on in the season, in addition to Wilbur-Creston, which opted down from 11-man and is eligible for the postseason this year.
But it’s hard to see anyone catching the preseason favorite. Especially, Nelson adds, since the players are motivated to secure the school’s first back-to-back state titles.
How does Nelson compare this team to the Lacrosse-Washtucna sides that dominated 1B in the early-to-mid 2000s?
“Feels better,” he said. “More dominance so far. But that’s so far. And it’s the team speed. When those two kids break loose, you’re not going to get them.”
Katzer breaks a single game rushing record
Mt. Spokane running back Kannon Katzer broke the school record for rushing yards in a single game against Sandpoint (Idaho) on Friday, according to head coach Terry Cloer and his coaching staff.
The senior rushed for 355 yards and four touchdowns on 15 carries, which included a 97-yarder, in the Wildcats’ 35-19 win over the Idaho team.
Katzer, who is playing with a vengeance after missing much of his junior season with a hip flexor injury, has 823 yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground for 3-0 Mt. Spokane entering a rivalry week against Greater Spokane League 4A foe Mead in the Battle of the Bell.
Guthmueller returns for Lewis and Clark
The Greater Spokane League just got that much tougher.
Lewis and Clark (1-2, 0-1 GSL) running back Keani Guthmueller, a first team all-league selection last season, made his first start of the year last week after initially not coming out for football in the lead-up to the season.
His decision not to play was not football related. When asked before the season, Lewis and Clark head coach Dave Hughes would not elaborate.
Guthmueller led the GSL with 1,200 yards rushing as a junior. He also had 14 touchdowns. In his first game starting this season, he carried the ball 14 times for 50 yards.
Coach Hughes was not immediately available for comment on Wednesday.