There’s a new man in the football head-coach spot for Redmond High this season: Mickey Ahrens.
Over the summer, he made himself at home on Walter L. Seabloom Field by running the successful Redmond Junior Mustangs Football Camp and as the season nears, he and the players can’t wait to put their pads and the ball in action on the gridiron.
During an indoor practice on Aug. 22, because of poor air quality, Ahrens stressed intense focus for the entire two hours of offensive and defensive drills.
The Mustangs let out a unified roar and the training session began.
“The foundation of my program is strong, tough, together. For me, it’s being built with strong character, tough in the face of battle and we play together,” said Ahrens, who takes the coaching reins from Jason Rimkus, who resigned for personal reasons after five years at the helm.
During his career, Ahrens has coached at University of Puget Sound, Franklin Pierce High, Stadium High and Lakes High. While running the Franklin Pierce program, he was named coach of the year in 2016 and led his squad to three consecutive state playoff appearances.
This year marks the return to 4A KingCo for Redmond, which played in 3A KingCo the last two seasons and sported a 4-5 football record last year. The school moves back to 4A after it appealed to do so, according to athletic director Dan Pudwill. Redmond switched to 3A because of enrollment figures and a wealth of teams opting up to 4A; enrollment reclassification will take place two years from now.
“I walked into a really strong program. These guys do things the right way, they know how to work hard already, so it’s how can we take it from here and keep building?” asked Ahrens, adding the the kids are hungry and committed to hammering together a championship program. “I really love the community at Redmond, the parents, the boosters have been awesome, getting to know the administration has been great. I got lucky with the coaches that we have on the staff.”
On the player front, there’s senior standouts Michael Cannistra (5-foot-10, 170 pounds) at starting quarterback, Jeremy Hernandez (5-6, 155) at running back/safety, Nikhil Jatekar (5-9, 160) at slotback-wingback/safety and linemen Ryan Gu (5-11, 190), Kevin Yasseri (5-9, 215) and Garrett Schmutz (6-0, 215). Talented juniors are Carson Bruener (6-2, 205) at tight end/middle linebacker, Matthew Janetzki (6-0, 180) at safety/running back, Colby Fazio (5-9, 150) at cornerback and Anakin Downer (5-8, 165) at running back.
Hernandez finished second at state in 3A wrestling at 145 pounds last year, Bruener was a first-team all-league defender, Yasseri and Hernandez were second-teamers on offense and Gu and Schmutz were honorable mentions.
Cannistra will lead the Mustangs’ spread smashmouth offense, which features tons of running and a dose of passing.
Arehns is thrilled to see what the Mustangs can do when the ball is snapped on the season, but there’s more transpiring inside and outside of the lines.
“Ultimately, I’m teaching these guys about life. I hired coaches that are bought into that mentality. It’s about being a man of character, how to fight through the challenges of life, ’cause they’re there every day,” said Ahrens, noting that it could be practicing inside, working out in blazing 95-degree heat or enduring a downpour on the field.
It’s all about trying to persevere through those obstacles that stand in front of them. Let the games begin.
Aug. 31: at Squalicum (Civic Stadium, Bellingham), 7 p.m.
Sept. 7: at Seattle Prep, 7 p.m.
Sept. 14: LAKE WASHINGTON, 7 p.m.
Sept. 21: INGLEMOOR, 7 p.m.
Sept. 28: WOODINVILLE, 7 p.m.
Oct. 4: at North Creek (Pop Keeney Stadium), 7 p.m.
Oct. 12: at Bothell (Pop Keeney Stadium). 7 p.m.