The last couple of years, Bainbridge High School football has not had a spring season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although spring football practices are optional for students, the lack of a spring season has affected the Spartans during the fall. In the last couple of seasons, the Spartans struggled, finishing 3-3 in 2020 and 3-6 in 2021.
However, the Spartans returned to the field in their helmets, cleats and practice jerseys for the first time last week. Although they didn’t start full contact until June 3, head coach Jeff Rouser has already noticed the energy in his players.
“I see a lot of enthusiasm,” Rouser said. “We have 65 signups for spring ball. Usually, we get about a third of that so we are at a record pace of players and going in the right direction.”
Some of those signups include standout wide receiver and defensive back Luke Lavigne, who is 6-foot-4. In addition, the Spartans get their young quarterback, Jack Grant, back after tearing his ACL as a freshman. Although he will not compete this spring, his spot is nearly secured as the varsity starter in the fall.
Besides their star quarterback and wide receiver, Rouser returns a young core who are now upperclassmen. One player to keep your eyes on is captain Micah Bryant. The running back and cornerback looks to instill the lessons he learned as a freshman toward the large number of incoming freshmen.
How are the Spartans getting the nearly 70 participants in their first week of spring ball?
First, it has been a shock to Rouser and his staff because there was no youth tackling program in 2021 due to lack of signups. However, there are two reasons why the participation numbers are reaching an all-time high.
According to Rouser, the Spartans have picked up incoming freshmen from the vibrant flag football league on the island. Plus, Rouser credited his upperclassmen for reaching out to the Spartan community.
“Our kids do a good job of getting kids out here,” Rouser said. “Last week, we had 10 freshmen sign up. They came to our school, listened to the players talk about football and signed up on the spot.”
In the first few days, Bryant noticed the program improving tremendously too.
“There were not that many people here when I was a freshman,” Bryant said. “I love to get new guys who are always trying to get better in the program.”
In the spring season, Rouser and his crew look to limit turnovers, get some of their playbook installed, and turn the players’ raw potential into talent. As for the players, they look to work on a handful of things themselves.
“Hard work, good preparation, good film study and outside of games, just being the best we can be and staying healthy,” Bryant said.
The spring season will end on June 17th. Afterward, the squad will head to Central Washington University to train and compete alongside several other football teams across the state. Fall practices begin on Aug. 18.