Coming off a dismal 0-10 season that saw them outscored in those 10 games, 425-146, this spring football season serves as something of a fresh start for the Lynnwood Royals.
With a predominantly young team once again, head coach Keauntea Bankhead gathered his Royals Thursday afternoon on the football field at Alderwood Middle school for one of their 20 contact practices allowed during the spring by WIAA (Washington Interscholastic Activities Association ) rule.
“This spring is important. Important for these guys so they can learn the system. Get some experience going,“ Bankhead said.
“That’s why I have a lot of stuff set up for us this spring. This Saturday we go up to Mount Vernon for a scrimmage against Mount Vernon and Stanwood. Then Wednesday we come back against (Mountlake) Terrace. Then the last week of June we have King’s (team) camp, which we did last year. Good competition there.” Bankhead continued.
Asked about his overall goal for the spring practices, Bankhead said it was “to get guys acclimated. So those young guys can learn, and let the vets, the returning juniors, who will be seniors, coach some of these guys up. And then to get better. Get bigger. Get faster. So that way, when August comes, everyone is on the same page. “
Among those veterans he’s hoping will help lead the way for the younger players is receiver Tanner Fahey.
Fahey was a First Team All-Wesco 3A South receiver as a sophomore last season and trained and played with a highly-rated local 7 on 7 team from Ford Sports Performance during the offseason. He should be a key cog in the Royals offense come fall.
“Feels good to be back out here. It’s rewarding getting some hits out,” Fahey said. “I want some more wins this year for this team more than anything. It was sad at the end last year. I don’t want that locker room again. Personally, I’m looking for a 1,000-yard season and more touchdowns. I’m hungry for it. “
Noticeably absent from the action on the field was last year’s starting quarterback, Christian Kirkman.
Kirkman is out of town for the week, which left an opportunity for another of the veterans that Bankhead is counting on to be a leader — senior-to-be Nate Killen — to slide in under center and take the reins as the regular at the quarterback position.
Killen, who played some quarterback for the Royals as a sophomore, moved to receiver last year to make room for Kirkman, and was one of the more underrated receivers in the conference, making some amazingly athletic catches in games.
“I just want us to improve. We need to focus on the little things.” Killen said of his goals for spring practices.
Lynnwood will put what they are learning to the test on Saturday when they travel north to Mount Vernon to take on the host Bulldogs, as well as the Stanwood Spartans in a three-team scrimmage.
— Story and photos by Scott Williams