In 2012, things didn’t exactly play out on the field the way the Kenmore (Wash.) Inglemoor football team would have liked. The Vikings finished 2-7, and entered the offseason with a bitter taste in their mouths.
With longtime head coach Frank Naish retiring after 34 seasons, former Woodinville offensive coordinator DJ Baddeley takes over, bringing with him excitement and optimism to the program.
“We have big expectations for this season with the addition of Coach Baddeley,” senior offensive lineman Ryan Clary tells NEI. “With how well we did at team camp at Central, and also with a lot of the young guys stepping up, there seems to be a new mentality here and everyone is striving to get better every day.”
One area the Vikings are at their youngest is along the offensive line, where junior Mike Milcarek is the lone returning starter.
“Honestly, it doesn’t feel like I’m the only returning starter. Players like Ryan [Clary] got lots of varsity reps last year, and this year guys have really stepped up to fill crucial positions,” Milcarek says. “What I’ve tried to do to lead the O-line is lead by example. Make it to every weight session possible, the only way we will succeed is to get stronger. Out tackle Carson Dewitt and I have even started competing in the weight room for max lifts, it’s made both of us stronger and better teammates.
The linemen at Inglemoor have been looking for every way possible to try and get better this offseason, knowing that the success of the team this fall lies largely on their shoulders. They’ve trained with Barton Football Academy coaches, spent countless hours in the weight room on their own, and former Viking standout Mikey Tupou has even helped work with the group in one-on-one drills.
Milcarek, Clary and the entire offensive line know that the Vikings are pretty solid at the skill positions, including top athletes Jackson Gardner and Isaiah Lewis, so QB Bryce Larson will have no shortage of weapons. They also know that for those skill players to be successful, then the battle needs to be won in the trenches.
“It all starts up front,” Milcarek says. “Our team is has some pretty amazing athletes at running back and receiver, so were pretty set there. The key to our success is keeping Bryce healthy, and ourselves healthy.”
That attitude is indicative of the change in culture Baddeley has brought to the Vikings. The players have bought in, and have a sense of pride in the school’s football tradition that they hope to restore.
“Every guy has been fully committed this off season. Whether it be our team camp at Central, 7 on 7 with Lynwood and Meadowdale, weights 4 days a week in the summer, doing individual work with other teammates, or working with our own personal trainers,” Clary says. “No team in the state wants to regain its spot among the top programs in the state more than us. We want it more than anyone else, and we will do whatever it takes to get there.”
In a year where many perceive KingCo to be wide open, having to clearcut favorite, anything can happen. One thing is for certain, if the big fellas up front have anything to say about it, Inglemoor will do whatever it takes to make noise this fall.