Dillon Plew has never played quarterback, but the Kennewick senior has made it his mission to learn the position to be able to lead the Lions in their team-first approach to the season.
“I’m just jumping in and doing what Temp (coach Bill Templeton) wants me to do,” said the 6-foot-4, 185-pound former wide receiver. “It helps the team, and I’m taking on a leadership role.”
A three-sport athlete, Plew found out after basketball season that the Lions would need him to move under center.
“He told me I was going to play quarterback, and I started learning the plays,” Plew said. “I’m doing the best I can.”
With Matt Driver missing the season with back issues, Templeton knew Plew was his man.
“We are fortunate to have an athlete like Dillon to step in and do the job,” Templeton said. “We are excited about our seniors who have taken big strides athletically and in terms of leadership.”
The Lions finished 4-5 last season and last went to the playoffs in 2012. Templeton said the team has a renewed focus this season, and he believes if they can establish their run game and be a good tackling team that they will have success.
The backfield features Ronny Loomis (jr., 6-2, 185), Raymond Gutierrez (sr., 5-11, 175) and Isaac Ruiz (so., 5-9, 175).
“It’s a three-headed beast,” Templeton said. “If someone shows more initiative, we will go with that.”
Loomis is a three-sport athlete with quite an impressive rèsumè. He competed at the 3A state wrestling tournament in February and ran the 400 meters at the state track meet in May.
No matter if it’s three, two or one, the running backs and Plew have the comfort of a stout offensive line in front of them — led by junior three-year starter Brandon Villasenor (6-1, 306) — to pave the way.
“We have good size on the O-line,” Templeton said. “But they are also good competitors and they work hard.”
Large and in charge
Villasenor anchors the O- and D-lines and will have help along the front lines from seniors DJ Dyer (6-4, 290), Rogelio Guizar (6-2, 230) and junior Dion Kutzke (6-1, 300).
Dyer has drawn interest from several college programs, including Washington, Washington State and Portland State.
“We have a lot of experience, we are big and we are good athletes,” Villasenor said. “We are pretty deep, so for guys like me who play on both sides of the ball, that’s great. I don’t have the best cardio, so when the coaches see I need a break, there is someone to step in. If not, you have to toughen up.”
The Lions have a slew of experience returning. Along with Plew, Villasenor and his linemates, Jared Grey (jr., 5-8, 165) is a returning all-conference defensive back. Garrett Dixon (sr., 6-1, 200) lines up at fullback/linebacker, Devyn Edwards (sr., 6-0, 175) is back at wide receiver and Andrew Townsend (sr., 6-0, 205) has moved from fullback to tight end.
“When you have that experience and they take their roles seriously and do the extra work, that makes a coach more confident going into the season,” Templeton said.
The Lions open the season at Ellensburg, followed by a game at Eisenhower before hosting Walla Walla on Sept. 17. They play defending 3A Mid-Columbia Conference champion Kamiakin on Sept. 25.
“We have the mentality that we are not overly prepared for one game, but prepared for every game,” Villasenor said. “We all put our clothes on the same way. It’s all who wants it more.”
That includes the teams that struggled last season. Pasco and Hanford have new coaches, and Southridge implemented a new offense.
“You can’t look past anyone,” Plew said. “You never know what a new coach can bring to a team.”