Catching up with the Panthers on day two of practice
I swung by Montlake Field on Thursday afternoon to catch up with Seattle Prep’s football team on its second day of practice.
Last year, the Panthers went 5-6 overall, beating Kennedy Catholic in the state tournament round-of-32 and losing 55-0 to Mountain View in the round-of-16. They went 1-3 in league play.
Leading the way for Prep in those playoff games was Sam Kopf – he had 361 all-purpose yards and four touchdowns against Kennedy and over 180 yards in the loss to Mountain View. He returns this year as a senior, and he said this year’s line is even better than last year’s.
On the career-day against Kennedy: “I think the line played out of their minds in that game, and I think if you look back to a lot of the plays, the play kind of ends then there’s a lot of blocks that are made by guys and it just kind of opened up again.”
Kopf is also a lacrosse player and he’s committed to play the sport at Navy next fall.
“Lacrosse has always been my big sport … and I kind of knew that Navy was what I wanted to do. I always wanted to go to Navy,” he said.
When asked if he would reconsider his lacrosse scholarship should a college football opportunity present itself, Kopf was as blunt as can be: “No sir,” he told me.
The line in front of Kopf on offense is trying to focus on power. Head coach Garrett Cook believes this could be the strongest Prep team in a number of years. In some of their schemes, the Panthers even plan to use their quarterback as a blocker.
“We’re going to do it a little differently, but we’re not afraid of anybody and you’re in for a street fight,” Cook said. “That’s kind of the mentality of the play that we want and the mentality of the team.”
Senior linebacker Joe Dugoni echoed his coach’s philosophy.
“We’ve always been a strong, power-first team. You’re going to be seeing a lot of the same [this year],” he said.
With only two full days of practice in the books, there are still starting jobs to be won – most notably at the quarterback position.
While senior captain Jonathan Khalfayan will likely earn the spot, he has guys behind him that are vying for it. Cook said that quarterbacks Thomas Frigon and Jacob Terao will get looks in practice.
“Khalfayan is the leader in the clubhouse because of his leadership,” Cook said. “He’s a senior, [and] he’s done all the things we’ve asked of him. But at the end of the day we’re going to play the kid who gives us the best chance to win. So as the offense starts to gel, we’ll see who that kid is.”
Khalfayan understands what is expected of him as an individual. What he expects of Prep as a team is being competitive in every game.
More than one time last year, the Panthers were on the receiving end of lopsided losses: 43-9 (versus Blanchet), 37-14 (Redmond), and 40-7 (Eastside Catholic) – all of these were at home.
“You never want to be embarrassed on your home field,” he said. “Maybe we won’t win every game, but if we can hold our own against some of the big teams, that’s what we want this year.”
Here’s what Cook had to say when asked about the expectations this season: “Our goal is to maximize our potential and the scoreboard will take care of itself. If you go out and play your best football game and these kids give their best effort all year round and we as coaches do the work to make them as fundamentally prepared as possible, everything else will take care of itself.”
Here are a few other Prep players who will likely be contributors this year (according to the captains: Dugoni, Khalfayan, and Kopf)
Jordan Tolentino, 5-foot-10, 170, senior cornerback.
Ray Schalk, sophomore left tackle. Also has an older brother, Randall, who is a junior that plays linebacker.
Dylan Barber, 5-foot-7, 255, senior guard.
Nolan Stout, 6-foot, 210, junior offensive lineman and linebacker.
Jackson Faerber, 6-foot-1, 205, junior linebacker and guard.