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All for one and one for redemption
Kingston Bucs set out
to turn the tide.
KINGSTON — One.
That’s the Kingston High Buccaneers football team motto. It also sums up how the players and coaches are approaching the season: to play together as one.
The team has set 20 goals and the only path to accomplishing its ambitions is to follow the motto.
“It means playing together and playing for each other,” said head coach Dan Novick.
The KHS Bucs are on a mission of redemption after going 0-8 last year. And a losing season and the high school split is the perfect arsenal for turning things around.
Novick said the returning athletes are true Bucs this year — they’ve transitioned over completely, and take a great deal of pride in that. So much so one senior even has gold and cardinal racing stripes on his car.
“The returning kids have taken their lumps and are excited about the idea of redeeming themselves and dishing out some punishment,” Novick said. “They’re more hungry and paying more attention to detail. They have more invested now. More ownership.”
On Wednesday approximately 60 athletes showed up to brave the rain and get in some down and dirty football drills. Novick estimates the roster will flesh out at 75, which is comparable to last year.
The team’s three senior captains — quarterback Paul Bagala and offensive/defensive linemen Alex VanDeen and Ian Brown — and two junior captains — offensive/defensive linemen Roy Swearingen and Gage Leigh — have been charged with leading the team in character and work ethic.
To rebound after last year’s season the top focus is to create a culture and identity of hard work, as games aren’t won on good intentions.
It’s a culture that seems to already exist, as the foundation blocks were laid last spring and throughout the summer.
The athletes have been putting in overtime in the weight room, they spent the summer conditioning three times per week, attended a team camp at Eastern Washington University and various other camps. Many players threw some icing on the cake with individual preparations.
The team stands to have a better year — and it’s ready to put the past to rest — as the players are armed with experience, more unity and greater confidence, Novick said, emphasizing the Bucs’ strong points.
There will be an emphasis on improving skills on the defensive end of the ball. There were times the Bucs scored enough points to win games last season, but the other team’s offenses proved too strong for the first-year team.
“We’re on a mission to improve defense,” Novick said. “We’re not going to get beat because we didn’t spend enough time on defense.”
And that’s what they’re doing in practices. Novick said they’re not spending any time on offense the first week. They won’t run a single play.
As for competition, the team’s not so worried about about that yet. They’ve decided to take each game as it comes and only focus on that week’s competitor.
Actually, the Bucs will be their own top competitor.
“If we compete against our own best selves then we’ll be much more successful than if we start focusing on our opponents,” Novick said.
The Bucs open their season with a game against Chimacum at Buccaneer Field at 5 p.m. on Sept. 5.
They’re excited for that Friday to arrive.
“You win in the off season and the season is really a test to how much you’ve improved,” Novick said. “I’m looking forward to seeing how our kids respond and perform.”