Soap Lake confident heading into new season

Aug. 31—SOAP LAKE — Eagles head coach Garrett Devine said that the team is much stronger than they were last season. Soap Lake's first game of the season is Friday, where they will be playing against Wilbur-Creston-Keller at 7 p.m.

"I think we kind of got pushed around last year and I don't see that happening again," said Devine. "We were young and some of our guys hadn't gone in the wait room and now, we're a little bit older and quite a bit stronger. So, I'm really looking forward to seeing that translate onto the field."

Devine said he has been coaching at Soap Lake High School for four years, he said, two as an assistant coach and two as head coach.

"If you look on the wall in there, it's been 40 years since we won a league championship. So, that's my goal here, is to change that ... I honestly believe that this group can do it, I just got to get them to believe it, too," Devine said.

This year's team has been one of his best in regards to attendance and punctuality, said Devine, even when poor air quality forced practice inside when practice started up again.

"The kids are here early and often," he said. "In the past, I feel like I've really had to worry about attendance, and it hasn't been an issue this year; the kids are motivated. Even with the struggle of being trapped inside, I've had really good attendance and that shows me the commitment. We really struggled with numbers last year. It was kind of a transition period for the program because Coach Blankenship had been running it for a long time."

This transition period meant Devine had new responsibilities and new assistant coaches, as well as freshman and sophomore players who had to start on the varsity team.

"We threw them into the fire," said Devine.

Devine explained how this year's team is shaping up and why he said he is more confident this season.

"We also had some kids come out, some seniors that didn't play last year and they look really good, we had a couple kids transfer in, and they look really good, and it just feels like we have a solid core right now," Devine said. "Our offensive line was in the weight room all summer...they just bought into the weight room deal. We've got a pretty big offensive line and they worked their tail off this summer."

Devine said he was looking forward to seeing how the team can run the football and that the offensive line is solid. However, Devine also said that the sport is not only about winning — that may be the goal on Friday night, he said, but it isn't the only goal for the team.

"I think people get confused on what it means to play football," said Devine. "I just really tried to clarify that it's about, 'we're a family.' This is where you're going to make some of your lifelong friends. It's fun, you know? It's supposed to be fun and I think that gets lost sometimes."

Devine also said that he believes this team understands the value of hard work, something he says is another major goal in his coaching experience.

"Teaching kids to enjoy working hard is one of the most important things you can learn," said Devine. "When they start to understand things and understand why they're working hard, it's really cool to see, and I feel like this group is embracing that."

Gabriel Davis may be reached at Download the Columbia Basin Herald app on iOS and Android today.

Soap Lake Football Schedule

Sept. 1 — vs. Wilbur-Creston-Keller — 7 p.m.

Sept. 8 — @ Republic — 7 p.m.

Sept. 16 — @ MLCA/CCS — 6 p.m.

Sept. 22 — vs. Waterville-Mansfield — 7 p.m.

Sept. 29 — vs. Oroville — 7 p.m.

Oct. 6 — @ Bridgeport — 7 p.m.

Oct. 13 — @ Entiat — 7 p.m.

Oct. 20 — vs. Pateros — 7 p.m.