It might be spring, but the familiar pop of shoulder pads fills the air Monday afternoon at Meadowdale High School’s practice football field.
It’s spring football season. Teams all around Washington state get 20 contact days of practice every spring, including days at a camp or 7-on-7 or 11-on-11 tournaments. Anything where the ball is in the air and pads are making contact with other players.
Monday afternoon was practice number seven of those 20 for the Mavericks.
When asked what his goals for spring football are for his team, head coach Matt Leonard replied, “Teach.”
“We do most of our teaching in the spring. When you get to August and you have 12 days to get ready to play a football game, you don’t have time to do the teaching. Here we do all of our play installing. We try to have the majority of our base offense in. Getting the mental side of the game down, because when it comes August, it’s time to play fast and physical. Lot of teaching, yeah,” Leonard said.
The Mavs hope that the teaching and the practice this spring will transfer to a more successful season in the fall, where they will look to rebound from a disappointing 3-6 season.
Key to that success will be two soon-to-be seniors — lineman Alex Krueger and quarterback Hunter Moen.
“Krueger’s a kid who’s recruiting is just going to blow up,” Leonard said. “He’s starting to get people’s attention. The wrestling season he had was helpful to him to put himself on the map by being a state semi-finalist and finishing 6th in the state placer. He’ll start next year as the number-one-ranked heavyweight in the state for wrestling. On the football field, he’s really developing into that vocal leader and physically dominating presence, which should be really scary for the rest of the league. Incredible kid with an incredible work ethic.”
When asked how practice has been going and his goals for his senior season, Krueger described a recent scrimmage where the team “got to pop some pads and knock some people down. It was pretty cathartic. I’m looking forward to working hard, getting my grades right, make it through the season healthy and play as hard as I can with my teammates, then whatever happens, happens.”
Hunter Moen will be entering his third season as the starting quarterback when games begin in the fall. A two-time 1st team All-Wesco selection at quarterback, Moen is coming off a season where he threw for over 2,300 yards and 26 touchdowns. He’s looking to be a team leader and hopes that translates into more wins than last year, and to “maybe come back more powerful and break some records too,” he said.
“In Hunter, entering year three, we’re challenging him differently than we have in the past,” Leonard said. “We’re asking him to be a leader. To set the example. To be the guy. Show the younger kids. We’ve got four underclassmen quarterbacks that are looking to him. He knows the offense. He knows the reads. He knows everything we’ll do at practice.
“That’s the hard thing for a kid when they get to that level, where they’re ‘the guy,'” Leonard continued. “Everyone knows they’re the guy. So we’re challenging him to be more than just throwing touchdowns. He’s a soft-spoken kid, buy we need him to lead. Doesn’t always have to be screaming and yelling. Just find a way to lead by example. But he’s having a great spring.”
The Mavericks will get a chance to test themselves on Saturday when they take part in the Rise Football Showcase 11v11 tournament with several other area teams at Tacoma’s Pacific Lutheran University .
— Story and photos by Scott Williams