From junior players to high-schoolers, everyone snagged a piece of the football action during a combo practice on Aug. 24. As the 7 p.m kickoff approached, little by little, players started appearing on the Redmond High field. When it was time to roll, yells and handclaps filled the air — game on.
For Joseph O’Hanlon, a senior 6-foot-2 inside linebacker/halfback, he thought it was cool to be part of the whole arc from his junior playing days to being one of the big guys showing the youngsters the ropes.
“I think it means a lot coming out here and practicing with the Junior Stangs, and really build the spirit together as this town and this team,” said O’Hanlon, noting that working hard, having fun and overcoming challenges are keys to becoming a stellar player and teammate. “(You’re) putting your body on the line together. Everybody has to work together. You build awesome friendships, awesome trust, it does wonders for becoming a man.”
Redmond’s varsity squad will kick off its season at 7 p.m. Friday in a nonconference game at Arlington. The Stangs finished 2-3 in 3A KingCo Conference play last year and 3-8 overall after chasing a playoff spot, but losing a mini two-game tiebreaker to Mercer Island and Interlake.
Senior Teryn Berry will be leading the way for Redmond at quarterback in his second year in the starting slot. The 6-1 Stang has played football just four years and has received attention from Eastern Washington University, Sacramento State and other schools.
Head coach Jason Rimkus said that Berry has a calm demeanor and is a mature and hard-working player.
“You couldn’t ask for a better leader of our team,” Rimkus said.
Added Berry: “I’m always constantly growing. I’m still learning, it’s only my second year starting, I just take it one day at a time.”
On the team front, Berry said he’s excited to see what the Stangs — who sport a mixture of experienced and younger players — can do when the ball is snapped on the season.
Rimkus said the tight-knit group worked hard in the offseason and, as always, is committed to making an impact under the game-night lights. He feels the rough and fast defensive line is the best he’s coached at Redmond and features O’Hanlon, senior 6-1 defensive end Sunny Sarkar, sophomore 6-2 middle linebacker Carson Bruener and a host of other talented players.
“I’m just trying to show everyone what I can do on defense and offense, and send the seniors out in a good way,” said Bruener, who also plays halfback in his first year on varsity. He added that participating in spring practice helped build him into a varsity player.
Sarkar and Bradley Cagle are two senior returners who are fired up to get things cooking.
Sarkar, who also plays offensive tackle, praised strength and conditioning coach Darius Terry for helping the players along the way. The Mustang veteran is ready to take the leadership torch.
“I feel I have a really important role in leading the O line and D line because I feel I’ve had the most experience,” Sarkar said. “I’m one of the only seniors on our O line, so I feel like they really follow me and it’s great to lead by example by giving it all on the field.”
As for Cagle, a 6-1 wide receiver/cornerback, he’s been playing Mustang ball since the fourth grade and said he’s absorbed life lessons by being in the thick of things.
“Over the last nine years, I’ve learned that Mustang football is all about giving 110 percent effort even when your opponents are starting to quit. You always have to outhit, outhustle and be mentally tougher for all four quarters than the other team,” he said.