Reedsport’s football season started with a tiny roster and Lynn Fulps returning to coach when the team’s expected coach quit just before the start of fall camp. It ended with the Brave in the playoffs for the third straight year.
“I thought for an oddball way to get started, what a great way to finish,” Fulps said as he looked back over the season. “I couldn’t ask for more.”
Fulps thought he was retired after last season, but said he couldn’t let the players down when he was asked to fill in as an emergency head coach.
“I really had a good time,” he said. “I wasn’t sure I was going to. It turned out better than I thought it would.”
Reedsport finished second in the Sunset Conference before losing to a tough Santiam squad in the opening round of the playoffs. The Wolverines won again Saturday, pounding Grant Union on the road to advance to the semifinals against St. Paul.
“They block really well, the best blocking team I’ve ever coached against,” Fulps said of Santiam.
Still, Reedsport battled early, even with starting quarterback Marc Chaney sidelined with a knee injury. Santiam scored late in the first quarter and the floodgates opened on the way to a 47-0 final score.
Still, Fulps was thrilled with his team’s effort, like all season.
“They never gave up,” he said.
Fulps praised junior Nick Glover, who stepped in to play quarterback when Chaney went down and was under constant pressure all game against Santiam.
“Nick took a beating and never quick ticking,” Fulps said. “He was getting hit hard.
“I’ve got to tive Nick all the credit for stepping in and doing what he could.”
Glover had one great pass that appeared to be a touchdown in the making, but his receiver couldn’t hold onto the ball, Fulps said.
The Brave were hampered by the injury to Chaney and one to Tyreece Gardner, who missed the entire season with an arm injury, though he will be able to play basketball.
“You put Marc and Tyreece in and it’s probably not a win, but it’s a better looking game,” Fulps said.
To try to enhance the running game with Tanner Eckley and Colby Fowler rotating between guard and fullback, Fulps had sophomore Jaden Hall, who he said weighs 125 pounds, playing at the other guard position. When Fowler went down with an injury, his 130-pound brother, Ben, another sophomore, became the second guard.
“They kept fighting,” Fulps said.
The other big highlight in the playoff loss was another sophomore, Javier Analco, who averaged 48 yards on his punts during the night and kicked his last one 60 yards.
“These were rockets,” Fulps said, adding that he heard compliments from the Santiam crew working the chains during the game.
Whoever Reedsport brings in as coach next year will have a good returning cast to work with, including several sophomores and juniors.
“We only had three seniors who finished in the playoff game,” Fulps said, referring to Eckley, Colby Fowler and Korde Parmenter.
The rest of the players are back next year, though it would be good to get the team back in the range of 30 players so the players can go 11-on-11 in repetitions at practice.
“I told the kids you’ve got to get the other kids back out playing,” Fulps said of other former players who opted not to play this fall.
During the week of the playoffs, an assistant coach was acting as quarterback and the two student managers were running backs while Reedsport’s defense tried to prepare for Santiam.
The final loss will not be a damper to the season in Fulps’ eyes.
“Once again, all the credit to the kids,” he said. “It’s a great group.
“That’s three years in a row in the playoffs. That’s pretty good.”
Fulps, meanwhile, said he is looking forward to spending as much time as possible with his five grandkids, who live in Monroe and Lake Oswego.