By Josh Bronson
Pilot staff writer
Another season of Bruin football is about to get under way at Brookings-Harbor High School and, once again, the Bruins are going to have to fight to get into the playoffs.
"We have something to prove," senior lineman Markie Parmerlee said. "People are saying we won't be able to win, but we're here to prove them wrong."
In 2006, after losing their first two league games, the Bruins won their final three games to sneak into the playoffs as the third seed in the Far West League.
In the playoffs, the Bruins lost a heartbreaker to the Gladstone Gladiators in a 30-27 dogfight.
"Our goal is to compete for a league championship, get back to the playoffs and get a win," Head Coach Jim Keys said.
The Bruins will have to replace a very talented senior class that graduated 11 players from last season's team, eight of which received All-League honors.
"We have a strong first team, but not a lot of numbers," senior running back Nick Morris said. "As long as we stay healthy, we should do good."
Quarterback The Bruins are fortunate to have a very experienced quarterback in senior A.J. Weber this year.
The 6'5" lefty has had game experience at the varsity level in the past two seasons as the back-up to Adam Ehlers.
But this year, Weber is at the helm and hoping to bring a potent pass attack to the Bruin offense.
"I'm very comfortable with A.J. as our quarterback," Keys said. "He's showing good leadership skills and he's very coachable."
With his height advantage, Weber will be able to see over the heads of his linemen and find an open receiver.
Weber's back-up this year will be the extremely versatile senior, Tyler Parke.
Parke hasn't had any experience at quarterback at the varsity level, but he has been working on the position in practice for the past three years, according to Keys.
Running Backs Seniors Nick Morris and David Marrington make up one of the most experienced and talented backfields in the Far West League this year.
Morris saw quite a bit of action at running back last year, splitting time with starter Anthony Longo.
This year, Morris will be the featured back in the Bruins' run game, which always seems to be potent.
"Nick has deceptive speed and he had a lot of our long breakaways last season," Keys said.
A new blocking pattern up front will force Morris to read the blocks rather than just plow down the middle.
"I have to go to the hole with patience, find it and then hit it hard," Morris said. "It fits my style of running better."
Clearing the way for Morris will be the hard-hitting Marrington, who started every game last year as the Bruins fullback.
Marrington will also be starting on defense this year, so he will split the fullback duties with junior Mike Klein.
Junior Evan Peterson will also get some looks at running back behind Morris this season.
Wide Receivers The Bruins have a number of talented wide receivers this year capable of bringing in Weber's passes.
"I think our wide receiver core is actually going to be better than last year," Keys said.
Parke, along with seniors Andrew Tuttle and Del Norte transfer Stevie Provencio will lead the Bruin attack at the wide receiver.
Other players who may have an impact split out wide include seniors Tyler Drafahl and Tommy Marrington as well as junior Ray Mazyck.
One of the positions still up in the air for the Bruins is at tight end.
A number of players may get playing time there including Drafahl, Klein, Parke or Schuyler Ray.
Offensive Line After graduating three starting linemen, the experience is spread pretty thin on the line.
Seniors Markie Parmerlee and Seth McDonald are the only two returning linemen.
A new blocking scheme instituted by Keys this season will hopefully help the much smaller Bruin offensive line utilize their quickness instead of their size.
Junior Neil Watson will help replace some of the size lost last year and is fairly athletic for a guy his size.
Fellow junior Mike Althof will most likely start for the Bruins as well if he can recoup from a preseason ankle sprain.
At the center position, junior Kyle Byers will get the nod, backed up by sophomore Nick Longo.
Other linemen who will see time will be Ray, senior Sean Townsend and Rogue River transfer Matt Mockry.
On the defensive end of the ball, the Bruins are going to have a difficult act to follow after last year's performance.
"It's going to be tough to play up to that level, but that's one of our goals," Keys said.
Last year's defense only allowed 18.8 points per game, which was 10th best in the state at the 4A level.
Other than the 52-7 blowout against eventual state champs Siuslaw, the Bruin defense kept them close in every other contest.
The Bruins lost six All-League defensive players, but hope to fill those holes with more quality players.
Defensive Line Replacing Far West League Defensive MVP Chris Althof will be no easy task, but brother Mike will do his best to fill in at defensive end.
McDonald will line up as the other defensive end and the two will try to aggravate opposing quarterbacks with their pass rush. Junior Andrew North may also see some time at end.
Parmerlee will once again start at defensive tackle and try and plug up the middle to stop the run game.
The other tackle position is open, but will probably be filled by Watson, who is the only other body large enough to fill the middle.
Linebackers The linebacker core will be led by Klein, who started every game last year as a sophomore.
Klein will be joined by Marrington as the other inside linebacker, with help from guys like Parke, Peterson, Morris and others as outside linebackers.
Secondary This year's secondary will be an experienced one, with Tuttle once again starting at corner and using his speed and strength to shut down wide receivers.
A number of other speedsters will be competing for the other corner spot, including Provencio, Drafahl and T. Marrington.
Parke, who was a defensive starter last year, may play safety when not at linebacker, with Weber also seeing time at the position .
Special Teams Because of the small numbers on the team, many offensive and defensive starters will also be splitting time on special teams.
Tuttle did a good job as the team's punter last year and will take on the role once again.
Parke continues to add to his vast repertoire and will most likely be doing the place kicking, along with Tuttle.
Keys, who is in his second year as the Bruins head coach, is accompanied by a core of veteran assistant coaches.
Dave Freeman will once again take on the duties as defensive coordinator.
Other returning assistant coaches are Vince Longo and Tom Serna.
New additions to the coaching staff this year include JV Head Coach Don Gallian.
Gallian has helped out with the Azalea Middle School football program for a number of years and is very familiar with the players and the program.
The other new addition is Chris Schofield, who will be helping with the defense as well as with the quarterbacks.
John Bishop, who coached with Gallian at Azalea, is also lending a helping hand on the staff.
Bruins vs. Bandon
The first game of the year for the Bruins will be on Friday, Aug. 31 at 7:30 p.m. in Bandon.
In last year's contest, the Bruins downed the Tigers 33-20 at home.
The JV squad walked all over the Tigers last year in a 44-8 win and play at 4 p.m.