Wahluke football ushers in Ryan Antos Era

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MATTAWA — The destination is always the same, the Tacoma Dome on the last Saturday night of the season. But the Wahluke Warriors will take a different road to get there this season under the direction of first-year head coach Ryan Antos. Antos was an assistant in St. Regis, Mont., before that he spent three seasons at Kiona-Benton, but this is his first time in the head coaching role and he’s ready to put his stamp on Waluke football. “I like to run a two-back set and throw it around a little bit, so the guys are learning a whole new offense this year,” said Antos. “They’re used to running a double-winged T and running the ball. But I think we have a number of different weapons we can use this year.” Jose Celaya will be on point at quarterback. The 5-foot-6, 160-pound junior has the skill set, both throwing and running the football when the time is right. He’ll be joined in the backfield by running backs Eli Barajas (5-7, 198, sr.) and Luis Gonzalez (5-10, 190). The wide receivers can expect to see quite a bit more action this season under the new-style offense. “I plan to keep it simple for the guys. Eli should have a pretty good year running. He’s quick with pretty good speed and power,” Antos said. “But we’re going to throw it a little more this year, depending on down and distance.” Logan Marlow (6-0, 195), Jesus Cisneros (6-1, 160, sr.), Isaac Sanchez (5-7, 150, jr.) give Celaya a wide variety of targets at wide receiver. “Isaac’s pretty quick, but I would call all of them speed guys when they get in the open field,” Antos said. “The idea is getting first downs, but we’ll take our shots downfield when we get them. Most of it will be high-percentage stuff, get the ball into our playmaker’s hands. It’s high school football, there’s a lot of missed tackles turned into big plays.” On the defensive side, Antos said he likes an aggressive 3-4 scheme with linebackers flying to the ball. Barajas will be in the middle, directing the action. Returning all-SCAC East selections outside linebacker Gerardo Ledezma (5-11, 230, sr.) and defensive end Daniel Ayala (5-11, 175, sr.) are expected to lead a salty bunch of defenders. The Warriors are coming off a loss to Naches Valley in the district tournament a year ago. The plan is to advance to the state tournament. When you play in the SCAC East or 1A for that matter, all roads go through three-time state champion Royal. “I knew about Royal and Connell from my time at Ki-Be, so it’s not like I’m some new guy from Montana coming in,” Antos said. “The top four from our conference advance to the district tournament, so even if we don’t make that big jump right away, we can still make it to the district tournament and advance from there. It’s still going to be a dogfight in the middle of the pack.” Wahluke opens the 2018 season on the road at Wapato on Friday, then hosts Granger (Sept. 7) in the home opener. From there, it’s straight into the SCAC East firefight at Royal (Sept. 14) and home against Connell (Sept. 14).

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