The Peninsula football team is off to a 3-0 start and has been vaulted into the top-10 of many 3A state rankings. The Seahawks are about to enter a brutal stretch of their schedule that includes four state tournament-caliber opponents in a row, beginning with a road game tonight at Timberline at 7 p.m. Patch spoke with Peninsula head coach Ross Filkins on Thursday and got his thoughts on his teams’ play through three games, the hot start of running back Danny Welstad and dealing with being ranked.
Through three games, what are you seeing from the team?
A lot of physical and mental toughness, which is kind of what we expected with a team that has worked this hard and has veteran leadership, so it’s been good to see it validated. It’s certainly what we will need down the stretch, we’ve got some awfully tough games coming up, so we’re going to need to see that continue.
Did you expect the team to start the season this well?
I hoped so. We put a lot a lot into it. We had the best off-season we’ve ever had, we had the most aggressive summer schedule that we’ve had in terms of our scrimmages, in terms of our summer camps, in terms of our passing leagues and then just in terms of how much we work we put out there. We knew our offensive and defensive lines were going to be strong, but I don’t think anybody could have expected that we were going to be able to run the ball this well this early. Our offensive line is way ahead of where we’ve been in the past, so that’s been a great thing to see.
Danny Welstad (13 rushing touchdowns in three games) has had a real impact in the running game. Did you see this coming?
You know, I don’t think anybody could have reasonably expected that he would come out of the gate in three games and have 700 yards or so and 13 rushing touchdowns and averaging over ten yards a rush attempt. We want to be a two-back, physical, run team on offense. We want that to be our offensive identity. They have, as a team, not just Danny, but really as a team, the core group of about 20 guys, they’ve all really taken to that mindset that offensive coordinator Steve Levenseller laid out for them.
Has the success running the ball carried over, in terms of confidence, to the rest of the team?
In high school football if you can run the ball and stop the run, you really have a chance every night. It allows you the opportunity to dictate the tempo of the game, because, you’re in a position now where you can control clock. You can go with a fast-tempo, you can go with a slower tempo and grind the clock away. If you can successfully run the ball, it does really have a lot of carry-over in confidence throughout everybody, even the defense.
The defensive unit has not gotten as much attention as the offense, but it has locked teams down. What stands out about the defense?
We’ve played a lot of guys over there on defense. Through three games, we have 32 players that have already recorded a defensive statistic, which is awesome. We’ve been able to get even some of our three-deeps in in the first half and our ones and twos are getting better. We’re not perfect, for sure, there are a lot of things we’re still working out and trying to get better at…I really still believe that our best football is still way ahead of us. We’re going to continue to get better over these next weeks, there’s still a lot out there on the table.
How is the team dealing with being ranked in the state?
We haven’t really talked about it. In the past, that’s something that we’ve talked about and kind of tried to downplay, quite honestly, and this year, we really haven’t talked about it at all. I think that getting a little bit of ranking and those kinds of things, I think it’s cool. I think it’s great for kids to be able to be out there and recognize the team for what they’ve done and how much hard work they’ve put into it. Does it mean anything right now, in terms of where we’re going to be at the end of the season? No. I think if we were a younger team, I think we’d have to be really wary about that and be careful about it. But believe me, there’s no coach or player on our team that’s getting cocky or getting a big head….if you look at [Scott Odiorne’s] computerized rankings, our next four opponents are all ranked in the top 20. It’s all going to come out in the wash here before too long. Right now, it’s cool, but it’s also just paper.
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