Zak Gable, Gavin James-Dues, Jurell McDade, and Alexis Plummer make for an experienced defensive line at Mountain View
Two have the typical goals associated with a football season, at least publicly anyway.
Win another league title. Then go on from there.
One wants to be the best Mountain View team in history.
And then there is one who just puts it out there: It’s time for a state title.
The Mountain View defensive line has four returning starters — Zak Gable, Gavin James-Dues, Jurell McDade, and Alexis Plummer — all seniors now, and they can just feel a special football season is on the way.
According to their coach, this season is already special.
“I’m just passionate about the line of scrimmage,” Mountain View coach Adam Mathieson said. “Whether it’s (youth football), high school, college, or pros, if you’ve got tough, physical, hard-working guys and then off the field they are the class of the program, you are going to enjoy the season.”
That is how Mathieson describes the Thunder’s Fearsome Foursome.
“In high school football,” Mathieson said, “it doesn’t matter what your scheme is … if you’ve got guys who work really hard, are passionate, competitive, love their teammates, and they’re line-of-scrimmage guys, then you’re going to have a chance to be successful on the field.”
There are a number of ways to be successful.
James-Dues said that the Thunder have to “execute the fundamentals, do what the coaches tell us to do, and get that league title again.”
Mountain View won the 3A Greater St. Helens League in the abbreviated spring campaign.
Gable also wants another league title, grateful to be playing a full season in his senior year, looking to bring the Thunder to the next level.
McDade has a more specific goal:
“I want to beat Team 38’s record,” he said.
That would be the 2018 team, the one that went 11-2 and reached the state semifinals.
Plummer? Oh, he just lays it all out there.
“We’re going to do more than a league title,” Plummer said of Team 41. “We’re going to win state.”
That remains to be seen, of course, but certainly there is reason for optimism. A returning defensive line. A returning offensive line. And that work ethic.
Those big guys? They are big for a reason. Mathieson said they are the first ones in the weight room and the last to leave.
Besides working to improve their strength and their skills, the Thunder also just enjoy being around each other.
“It’s a community,” James-Dues said. “Everyone is welcoming. We’re just a family.”
Gable said the relationships he has made through football, not just in high school but even from his youth days, will last beyond high school graduation.
On the field, there is a mindset that is needed in order to dominate from the defensive line.
“You gotta be a dawg up front and don’t care about anything else,” McDade said. “You gotta get to the backfield. That’s it.”
Plummer said one must believe you are better than the opponent across the line of scrimmage.
Gable said it is more than just strength, though. A good defensive lineman has to read the play correctly, assess the situation, then be explosive and get to the right place at the right time.
It also helps to understand that no one player on the defensive line needs to get the spotlight. It might be a linebacker making a big play because a defensive lineman did his job first.
“I get double teamed all the time,” McDade said. “Doesn’t really matter to me that much. As long as my linebacker gets the play, it’s good for the team.”
“If one person makes the tackle, the team makes a tackle,” James-Dues noted.
As far as personal preferences, McDade and Plummer like defense. Gable, who also plays running back, said he likes offense.
But which side of the ball is better for Team 41?
“Our team is better,” James-Dues said. “I won’t say one is better than the other.”