WASHINGTON — As football season nears, there's always a sense of excitement around the team at Washington High School.
But with an experienced group returning this season, a feeling of optimism surrounds the team — and the town.
“The last couple years there hasn't been the buzz around town,” said coach Brad Beller, whose team is coming off an 8-4 season in Class 2A. “There was an expectation that we would be good (in past years), but we knew that there was a ceiling on how good we could be. This year, the town and the kids feel like the sky is the limit. We really feel like we cannot just be a team that makes the playoffs this year, but also one that makes a deep run.”
One of the big reasons behind all the excitement is senior quarterback Brock Harmon, who is one of seven returning starters.
“We run the spread option attack and with a veteran group back the installation of that has been pretty smooth and simple,” Beller said. “Brock's skill set, being able to run or throw, helps us keep people honest where they can't load the box on our run game. He understands all the concepts and really does a great job of allowing me to put more on his plate and not have to put it on everyone else.”
The Warriors' quarterback not only has experience with playing time, but also as a leader.
“Last year, we (senior class) were the leaders without it even being expected of us,” Harmon said. “So this year we haven't even really had to establish that. I just try to do what I do and be who I am. Once the younger guys see that, I think they have a good example to look up to.”
Beller says Harmon will have the benefit of playing behind a much improved offensive line. The Warriors' biggest change up front is strength they added during the offseason.
“In the past we've said if we can just get a stalemate up front that's all we need,” Beller said. “But now we're getting a push. That makes our option offense much tougher to stop.”
Harmon has noticed the offensive line improvement. The three-year starter credits the development with allowing him to be successful playing the way he does.
“My line gives me excellent time to pick apart a defense,” Harmon said. “I'm able to run scared and throw it to open people. And scrambling — I don't really know, it's just natural I guess.”
Harmon says his dual threat style is best compared to a controversial Heisman Trophy winner.
“I think I play like Johnny Manziel,” Harmon said. “I can keep plays alive with my feet and when I need to I can throw the ball really well.”
Does that mean he's taken on the nickname Brock Football?
“No, never heard that one,” he said with a laugh. “Not yet at least.”