'But this year, we have 11 guys who we were expecting on the team not be on the team.'
As the start of practice neared at the end of summer, Seward coach Dan Bohrnsen must have felt like an out-of-luck commercial fisher. He wasn't getting nearly the number of returns he expected.
During 2000's 2-4 campaign, the Seahawks took their lumps in anticipation of turning out a better product in 2001.
"If you would have asked me at the end of last season how good we'd be, I'd have said we'd be real competitive and right there with other teams on the peninsula," said Bohrnsen, who is entering his sixth year in the program. "But this year, we have 11 guys who we were expecting on the team not be on the team.
"They'll either be here when school starts, they're ineligible or they've moved away."
But of the 11, Bohrnsen said, seven players will not be rejoining the team this year for sure.
The poor returns afflicted not just the varsity, but the entire program. Bohrnsen was hoping for more than 50 players, but in the first game of the year Seward had just 22 players eligible and had to scratch its junior varsity contest.
Despite the poor returns, Bohrnsen said some players did come back that give him a lot of hope.
"We have five or six kids that are pretty good kids," said Bohrnsen, who is expecting eight seniors on his squad. "They'll be our nucleus. They'll play all four quarters and never leave the field.
"We've just got to fill the vacancies around those kids. Right now, we're practicing better every day. We just have to see how much we've improved by the time we get to competition."
Two of those core players will be seniors Darian Draper and Zack Rininger. Both will play running back and linebacker.
Draper was the team's leading rusher last season, carrying the ball for 132 yards on 47 carries. He hurt his shoulder snowboarding last year and may miss the first game or two due to the injury, but Bohrnsen expects to have his services for most of the season.
Another player Bohrnsen will lean on heavily is Jonah Swiderski, a 6-foot-3, 190-pound junior fullback and defensive end.
Senior Garrett Boyle, a 6-3, 200-pound senior quarterback and defensive end, pulled a hamstring midway through last season and lost his starting job. On the season, he was 16-for-32 for 90 yards.
The offensive and defensive lines will be led by seniors Ben Steward and Ben Clock.
"We're awful thin this year, probably as thin as we've ever been," Bohrnsen said. "When we get into the third and fourth quarter, and you've had kids out there the whole time, that gets awfully hard."
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