Strength up front: Wyatt Goade (59) and Axel Gibson go head-to-head in a drill during preseason practice. (Mark Krulish/Bainbridge Island Review)

Strength up front: Wyatt Goade (59) and Axel Gibson go head-to-head in a drill during preseason practice. (Mark Krulish/Bainbridge Island Review)

Bigger line could mean better for Bainbridge

The Bainbridge football team has undergone a serious transformation in just a few months, and in more ways than one.

Last season, the Spartans were heavy on athletic perimeter players and struggled in the interior. They could spread out and throw it around with the best of them, but there were games it was obvious they were not stout enough up front to run up the middle or stop the run.

But this fall, it’s a different story. With plenty of experience and strength on the offensive line and in the defensive front seven, the Spartans will look quite a bit different. The program also looks different in terms of pure numbers, with 24 freshmen signed up to play, boosting overall turnout to about 70.

“Last year, it was obvious,” Bainbridge head coach Jeff Rouser said. “We didn’t have the guys to run it. This year, we do.”

In six games last season, Bainbridge attempted 205 passes and threw for over 1,500 yards. This year, the pass-run splits should be more balanced.

The strength is upfront with linemen Axel Gibson, Connor Sweeny, Emmett Taylor, Sasha Herrmann and Wyatt Goade leading the way. They will be moving the pile for junior quarterback Jeff Utter and an array of backs, such as returners Jacob Dorsey (senior), Micah Bryant (junior) and Matt LeDorze (senior), along with newcomer Johnny Breen (junior). Junior receiver Luke Lavigne and LeDorze are the only returners who made receptions on last season’s senior-heavy team.

The defense should also be more adept at stopping the run. Herrmann will continue to make an impact in the front seven as he did last season as one of the unit’s best players. Senior Alex Jensenlopez will serve as the team’s middle linebacker and Caleb Durrance will also suit up at linebacker. Many of the aforementioned offensive players will see plenty of time on defense as well, including Gibson, Bryant, LeDorze and Utter.

But although Bainbridge still has plenty of returners despite graduating its quarterback and most of its running backs and receivers, the young guys are helping to push the veterans to earn their playing time, a luxury teams don’t always have with lower program numbers. “These guys are still competing,” Rouser said.

The pieces are in place for Bainbridge to have a successful season in the Olympic League. The Spartans match up well with most teams, and with good health, could be a contender. “I’m optimistic,” Rouser said. “But I want to go in there and not have any expectations there, have no pressure.”

2021 record: 3-3

Head coach: Jeff Rouser

Key players: Axel Gibson, OL/DL, sr.; Luke Lavigne, WR/DB, jr.; Matt LeDorze RB/DB, sr.; Sasha Herrmann, OL/DL, jr.; Emmett Taylor, OL/DL, so.; Wyatt Goade, OL/DL, jr.; Connor Sweeny, OL/DL, sr.; Alex Jensenlopez, RB/LB, sr. Jeff Utter, QB/DB, jr.

Schedule: Sept. 3, 7 p.m., Garfield; Sept. 9, 7 p.m., at Lindbergh; Sept. 17, 6:30 p.m., at Olympic; Sept. 23, 6:30 p.m., Sequim; Oct. 1, 6:30 p.m., Kingston; Oct. 8, 6:30 p.m., Bremerton; Oct. 15, 6:30 p.m., at Port Angeles; Oct. 22, 6:30 p.m., North Kitsap; Oct. 29, 6:30 p.m., at North Mason.

Strength up front: Wyatt Goade (59) and Axel Gibson go head-to-head in a drill during preseason practice. (Mark Krulish/Bainbridge Island Review)

Strength up front: Wyatt Goade (59) and Axel Gibson go head-to-head in a drill during preseason practice. (Mark Krulish/Bainbridge Island Review)

More in Sports

Ian ‘J.R.’ Ritche
Outdoor prep sports spring into action

The Bainbridge Spartan baseball team returns one of the top pitchers in… Continue reading

Cade Orness had 7 assists in the game for third place.
NK boys place 3rd at state

Now that’s more like the Vikings North Kitsap fans know and love.… Continue reading

Jonas La Tour led the Vikings to their win over Sehome. File Photo
Basic math leads NK to win over Sehome

It’s simple math - 3 is more than 2. So with top-seed… Continue reading

Sophomore standout Evelyn Beers was held to six points. Steve Powell/File Photos
NK girls sunk by Eagles

North Kitsap’s girls basketball team ran into an offensive and defensive juggernaut… Continue reading

Steve Powell | Kitsap News Group
Mitchell Neiner, right, of South Kitsap was the state champion at 126 pounds, shown here wresting Miguel Valdez of Sunnyside.
SK’s Hartford, Neiner crowned champions at state wrestling tournament

Eight Wolves compete at the 3A state tourney in Tacoma

Sofian Hammou won a state title at 220 pounds for the Vikings. File Photo
Hammou wins state wrestling title for NK

North Kitsap junior Sofian Hammou won the state 2A wrestling title at… Continue reading

Eilee Brockman of Kingston is surrounded by Enumclaw Hornets after making a move inside. Steve Powell/North Kitsap Herald photographs
Kingston girls lose to Enumclaw

Kingston’s dynamic duo of seniors Eilee Brockman and Brianna Jorgensen helped the… Continue reading

Viking Maliyah Reed (32) looks for someone to pass to against Renton. Steve Powell/North Kitsap Herald photographs
NK girls beat Renton in overtime

NK plays W. Valley for a spot at state

Aiden Olmstead goes baseline against White River in the title game. Steve Powell/North Kitsap Herald photos
NK boys beat White River for district title without La Tour

Now seeded 1, Vikings play 8th seed Sehome next

Aubrie Aukland of Bainbridge dominated her match at first. Steve Powell/Bainbridge Island Review photos
2 Spartan wrestlers show well at state

Bainbridge Junior Wyatt Goade of Bainbridge won his first match at state,… Continue reading

Isaac Beers of North Kitsap gets off to a fast start on his state record-breaking race. Steve Powell/North Kitsap Herald photographs
NK’s Beers fastest in state going forwards and backwards

Isaac Beers of North Kitsap is the fastest 2A swimmer going both… Continue reading

NK boys play top seed in title game at Highline tonight

No. 2 seed North Kitsap beat No. 6 seed Enumclaw 78-68 Friday… Continue reading