Stadium football coach Jess Nelson is no meteorologist, but he’s forecasting a change for the better in the Tigers’ future.
“That cloud of despair that hung over this program for so long,” the third-year coach said, “that’s gone.”
Stadium is enjoying quite a breakthrough this season, ending all sorts of frustrating losing skids. The Tigers’ 21-19 win over Foss two weeks ago ended a 27-game league losing streak. When Stadium followed with a 46-20 thumping of Mount Tahoma last week, it marked the first time since 2000 that the Tigers’ won back-to-back games.
“The mood around here has changed quite a bit,” Nelson said.
Nelson had no illusions of immediately turning around the program when he took over in 2007.
“The first year was about believing in ourselves,” he said. “The second was about competing. The third is having a mindset, expecting that we can win. And we’re there.”
Stadium has leaned heavily on running back Kendall McNeil (600 rushing yards and 9 touchdowns) to lead its Wing-T offense since losing three-year starting quarterback Cameron Robak to injuries earlier this season. Sophomore Tyler Stumph has replaced Robak, but the senior maintains an active role with the team.
“He understands the schemes better than anyone,” Nelson said. “He’s almost like a co-offensive coordinator. He’s got a whistle and clipboard at practice and he’s in Tyler’s ear.”
The Tigers (2-3 overall, 2-3 league) will face stiff tests in the next three weeks when they face Olympia, South Kitsap and Central Kitsap. Up first is a trip to Ingersoll Stadium to meet the four-time defending champion Bears (4-1, 3-1) at 7 tonight.
“We have to play perfect, we have to execute, have to be disciplined,” Nelson said. “There can’t be any doubt that we can win. If we do that, we’ll be very competitive.”