Prep football preview: Lynnwood hopes talent trumps numbers

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Lynnwood quarterback Justin Cachopo fires a pass during practice Monday at Lynnwood High School.

By David Pan/Lynnwood Today editor

Lynnwood likely will be fielding one of the smallest football teams in the Western Conference 4A South League.

With a roster under 50, the Royals will be hard-pressed to compete numbers-wise with schools such as district rival Edmonds-Woodway and defending league champion Jackson.

But numbers don’t tell the whole story at Lynnwood.

“We don’t have a lot of players, but the players we do have are good guys,” assistant coach/defensive coordinator Keauntea Bankhead said.

Still, given the Royals’ lack of recent success (6-43 since 2008), many might have lower expectations as to what a successful season for Lynnwood would be.

“Some people may say .500,” Bankhead said. “Some people say if they win three, four games, that’ll be a success.”

Not the Royals.

“If we stay healthy, I think we can get to the playoffs,” Bankhead said. “We preach the playoffs. If we get there, I think that’ll be success. I think that’s a realistic goal for us.”

Lynnwood’s line took a big hit with the graduation of first-team, all-leaguer Andrew Basham, who is now at the University of Washington. But stepping into his role as the leader of the line is senior Isaiah Holmes, also a first-team, all-league lineman.

“Losing a player like (Basham) is a big deal but Holmes is replacing him,” said senior wide receiver/defensive back David Nguyen. “He’s doing a great job.”

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Lynnwood linemen Isaiah Holmes (left) pushes a teammate aside during a blocking drill.

Holmes and Nguyen are just two of a slew of talented returning players. Also back are junior quarterback Justin Cachopo, junior running back/linebacker Andrew Katzenberger, senior wide receiver/defensive back Hunter Lord, senior running back/linebacker David Vo, senior wide receiver/defensive back Kyle Shankle and sophomore running back/linebacker Mikao Kirkman.

The seniors are a particularly driven group, according to Holmes.

“The seniors are ready, no doubt,” he said.

“There are a lot of veterans. We know what we’re doing,” Nguyen said. “We know what it feels like. We can help lead other people.”

That experienced leadership is a great help to the coaching staff.

“They’re like coaches on the field,” Bankhead said of the seniors. “Coaches can only coach up so many players at a given time. They kind of help us coach up the guys who are a little behind or who are new to the team. They help get them on board.”

This is the second year under head coach Adam Fermstad, who was hired during the spring of 2012. Having played under Fermstad for a year has made a huge difference.

“We had the whole year to prepare with our playbooks, our offensive schemes and all of that,” Nguyen said.

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Lynnwood’s David Nguyen sprints during a conditioning drill.

Nguyen spent the offseason working with Cachopo.

“We ran a lot of routes. We got in sync,” Nguyen said. “It’s nice to know there’s a returning quarterback.”

While the offense looks familiar, the defense won’t. Bankhead is switching from the 3-4 to a 4-3 scheme. The plan is to mix up the coverage and to blitz more.

“The whole defense is brand new,” Bankhead said. “They picked it up really well. They’ve caught up fast. They’re just now getting to that level where they understand what’s going on now. They know their assignments. Now we’re getting to the point where we just need them to read the other offense.”

The 4-3 gives Lynnwood a lot of options, Bankhead said. “There are multiple things you can do out of a 4-3.”

The goal is for Lynnwood to act rather than react.

“We want to play our game instead of playing other people’s game,” Holmes said. “A lot of people want to go big this year.”

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Lynnwood

  • Coach: Adam Fermstad, second season.
  • Last year: 1-7 in the league, 1-9 overall.
  • Top players: Senior OL/DL Isaiah Holmes; senior RB/LB David Nguyen; senior WR/DB Hunter Lord; senior WR/DB Kyle Shankle; junior RB/LB Andrew Katzenberger; junior QB Justin Cachopo.
  • Opening game: Shorecrest, 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 6 at Edmonds Stadium.
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Lynnwood’s Andrew Katzenberger practices his footwork at Lynnwood High School.

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