It’s not often that your opening game for the season could be the same matchup for the state championship honor at the end of the season.
Matt Brockamp, head coach for the Wallowa High School Cougar football team, believes that will be the case. And he’s looking forward to it.
He has a gaggle of seniors who are expected to carry the team to a successful season.
The Cougars will play St. Paul High School in St. Paul Friday night at 7 p.m.
“They’ve been a perennial powerhouse,” said Brockamp, who is in his fifth year coaching the team. “They’ve won more state champions than anyone. This is a game I’ve been trying to put together for a couple years.”
Tony Smith has coached St. Paul for years. Three generations of Smiths have played quarterback for the school.
The Bucks’ last season ended in a heartbreaking loss to Santiam in the state semifinals.
The Cougar offense will be led by returning quarterback Gus Ramsden, a senior. Ramsden had a slow start last year due to an injury, but came back for a strong finish.
Wallowa’s top receiver, Austin Brockamp, also a senior, is expected to repeat his standout performance.
Other seniors on the team include Wyatt Prince, Joe Robb, Zane Hermens, Mike Diggins, Richardo Palma, Zane Mallory and C.J. Horn. Four juniors –– Quinten Tillery, Ricky Prince, Logan Waldron and Kenyon Davidson –– are also among the elder statesmen.
The remaining crop of freshmen and sophomores includes Gus Ramsden’s younger brother, Zeb and Hermens’ younger brother Zeb.
Twenty-seven players are on the preseason roster. Coach Brockamp will produce a final roster this week.
Wallowa opened its season with the traditional jamboree event Aug. 24 with Crane, Adrian, Pine Valley, Pine Eagle and Cove.
For Coach Brockamp, the goal is simple.
“To be 1-0 every week we play,” he said. “We try to get our kids to compete at a higher level and win every play. If we don’t, we forget about it and move on to the next play.”
Wallowa’s offense was heavily weighted toward running plays last year. This year, quarterback Ramsden will be encouraged to do more throwing.
“Gus has been throwing the ball real well,” he said. “It’s something that we know we need to get better at.
“We will be a hard team to defend against again this year,” he added.
Defensively, Wallowa has three players topping 200 pounds –– Robb, Horn and Diggins are seniors, Quinten Tillery is a junior and Ruben Hunt is a freshman.
Coach Brockamp is assisted by Jeremy McCulloch.