Cascade High School football coach Jordan Sieh hopes his program’s decision to play an independent football schedule will help spark a movement in Wesco across all sports.
The fourth-year Bruins head coach is a strong supporter of the growing trend of the tiered prep sports league, which has attended several conferences across the state in select sports to create a creative competitive balance.
“I think the funnest coaching games are when … a touchdown or two comes down to it,” he said. “It’s the key games. Did my boys execute? As a coach, did I have a good game plan? We’re trying to get as many games like this as we can. “
When the opportunity arose after the 2019 season to enter a two-year cycle as a standalone team, Sieh quickly seized it in the hope that it could pave the way for tiered divisions in the future.
“I just want as many teams as possible to play competitive games across the board – men’s sports, girls’ sports – and we just decided that maybe this is a step in that direction,” said Sieh. “We’re doing that this year and we’re excited.”
The Bruins are one of three Wesco soccer teams that have an independent game plan this season. The others are Everett and Shorewood.
All three teams will play a full game plan, including encounters with known Wesco enemies that are not counted in the league ranking.
“The schedule hasn’t changed that much,” said Everett’s third-year head coach Brien Elliot. “Our rivals are still there. What has changed is that we don’t play against the league’s powerhouses and they get a tougher opponent. It’s good for them and it’s good for us. ”
Moving to an independent schedule was easy for the Seagulls because they recently saw what can happen when a young rebuilding program is thrown into the fire against strong, experienced teams.
When Elliot took over the team, he only had 17 players for the spring ball. All but two were from the preseason freshman team.
Elliot said Everett had about 50 players at the start of summer training, but about 30 of those players were newbies.
The Seagulls went 0-10 that season, losing seven games by 20 or more points.
“It really comes down to a security issue,” he said. “Children are unable to get into their punching and blocking position. You’re not at the speed level a 17 or 18 year old is playing. It’ll be a bit dangerous. ”
Everett is young again this season, with 50% of the college cadre making up his sophomore, according to Elliot.
The hope is that a competitive, balanced schedule will allow the younger children on the program to develop properly.
“It allows them to have a confident experience and knowledge,” said Elliot, “because realistically, if you play a game, you get good at football. If you are playing in a game in a live experience and you are inferior in all respects, it is not a positive experience. It’s not a growing experience. ”
There’s still a path to post-season football for all of Wesco’s three independent teams. To get there they have to stay undefeated, which is only possible for one team as all three play against each other once.
An undefeated Wesco team playing an independent schedule would qualify for a week 9 play-in game on Tuesday against fifth seeded by Wesco 3A North. The winner of that game would be a win-or-go home game against Wesco 3A South No. Advance 3 seed.
A playoff opportunity would certainly be welcomed by any of the three programs, but the focus this season is on giving their players the best experience possible – win or lose.
“It’s so important that the kids have fun playing,” said Elliot. “That doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll win the game in the end, but they are competitive and will play where they did well and they will have a game where we can build them and … help them.”