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Big games loom on Arlington's Friday nights
ARLINGTON — There are no unimportant games on Arlington football's schedule this fall.
"There's Glacier Peak — it's our first game and we want our first impression to be a big one. Jackson, we're going there, they're going to be harder this year," said senior linebacker Jeff Owen, who also counted last year's league champion Marysville-Pilchuck as a "kind of" rival and an important game. "And you can't overlook Stanwood. They're coming here, it's Stilly Cup and Senior Night."
And that's not even counting homecoming against Oak Harbor and road games against perennially tough league teams Snohomish and Lake Stevens on the road, must-win games to remain standing in November.
"I think that it's anybody's race this year," said Arlington coach Greg Dailer. "I think we snuck up on some people last year. People expect us to be better this year, which will be tough."
Thankfully, Arlington returns key seniors from last year's junior-heavy team. Among them will be Jake Parduhn, last year's all-league quarterback who is making the shift to running back and wide receiver, quarterback Andy Smith, center Luke Gettmann, defensive back Brandon Pierce, wide receiver Connor Varnell, o-lineman Tanner Olson and Owen.
With a small varsity roster last year, Arlington was forced to play a lot of the same guys on both sides of the ball, which could have contributed to the team's running out of steam at the end of the season after a 3-0 start including wins against state tournament teams like Glacier Peak and Jackson. Dailer said he plans to go ahead with a two-platoon plan that will have most players specializing in a position on either offense or defense.
Some new faces could help contribute to that plan, including transfer student Vince Kurtzenacker, who will play linebacker and quarterback, and sophomore Blake McPherson, a letter winner last year as a freshman who will spend a lot more time on the field this year at safety and wide receiver.
Owen said one way he hopes the team looks different from last year's is in mental toughness.
"This year, you don't take time off between a play. On defense, that (philosophy) is 'Every tackle, every time,' work in between plays," Owen said. "Intensity is going to be high. On every play, people are going to be hit. We're going to be in a lot better shape this year."
Arlington kicks off its season on the road against Glacier Peak and returns home Sept. 11 to host Lynnwood.