Photo By Patty Theurer - #5 Cy Wareham
Written by Will Hoenike
In 2017, the Genesee Bulldogs played for the 1A Division I state championship. Over the next two seasons, the team combined to win three games.
Welcome to the ebbs and flows of small-school athletics.
Now, the Bulldogs have added a unique ebb to the flow by agreeing to a cooperative football agreement with nearby Colton, Washington. The two small communities are separated by just 11 miles – and one state line – have come together to form one team this season.
Head coach Alex Schnebly said about 18 players were regular participants of the program’s offseason program, an excited and coachable group that is looking to change the tide for the Genesee.
The Bulldogs struggled defensively last fall, but Schnebly thinks that can change.
“We have a lot of strong athletes on this team,” the first-year coach said. “Our defensive style is suited for these athletes. Each week, we will prepare for Friday nights and depending on who we play, it will determine what our defense looks like.”
For starters, he sees size and speed that could help create matchup problems for opposing offenses.
It starts with Dawson Durham at defensive end and Wyatt Jordan at linebacker. That tandem will anchor a unit that also includes senior Jaxon Moehrle and junior Jake Krick along the defensive line, Cy Wareham at defensive back and Angus Jordan at linebacker.
On offense, the Bulldogs like to play fast. Senior Owen Crowley will be a contributor and the team has big pass-catching targets in Durham (6-foot-2), Wareham (5-foot-11), and senior Jake Odenborg (6-foot) for sophomore quarterback Angus Jordan.
“He has really put his heart and mind into football,” Schnebly said of Jordan. “His passion to learn and get better has truly made him a top contender at his position.”
Genesee will have to work hard to replace its offensive line, two of which (Dillon Sperber and Ethan Graves) earned All-White Pine honors last fall. Three other linemen have graduated, leaving a number of holes to be filled this season. One of those spots could end up going to incoming freshman Joe Johnson, who has impressed Schnebly with his blend of size and quickness. Moehrle should also be a key part of the offensive front.
The co-op with Colton brought about a half-dozen players with it, along with assistant coach Matt Jutila. Jutila was an assistant with the Colton program last season and has made an immediate impact.
“His football knowledge has already put us leagues ahead of where we expected to be at this time of the year,” Schnebly said. “Coach Jutila has taken the helm as defensive coordinator and has really shined with his scheming and preparation.”
The new playoff format in 1ADI will impact the race in the White Pine League. In recent years, the top three finishers each earned postseason spots. Now, the only team guaranteed a berth is the White Pine champ. However, there are seven at-large spots so, conceivably, there are more spots available for teams that perform well in what has traditionally been one of the state’s deeper and stronger leagues.
Genesee appears to have the skill to compete for one of those postseason spots. The team’s ability to build and develop a strong offensive (and defensive) line will likely be a big factor in the Bulldogs’ ability to play deep into the postseason.