Will Ephraim said the Prairie community has welcomed him with open arms
The Prairie Falcons got on the field on Wednesday morning, then the older players hit the weight room, while the younger players went into the classroom.
That was just the first couple of hours.
They would have a break, then be back for more practice later in the day.
Wednesday is the first official day of high school football practice for the state of Washington, and the first official day of the Will Ephraim era at Prairie School.
The new head coach for Prairie football is not new to Clark County, of course. The former Oregon State defensive back is in his 20th season of coaching in the region.
He has been the head coach at Hudson’s Bay and at Seton Catholic. Plus he spent years as an assistant at Camas and Heritage.
Clark County is home. Football is home.
And now, Prairie is home for Ephraim.
“The community is very welcoming, very supportive. I felt that right off the bat,” said Ephraim, who was hired at Prairie in late winter. “The community here at Prairie is pretty impressive. I realize how much they love football. They are supporting me. I don’t feel pressured. They’re excited that I’m here. And they’re willing to help.
“I appreciate that.”
His new players love Ephraim’s attention to detail.
“He’s got a plan for everything,” senior lineman Kaleb Watson said. “That’s really good for us. Every second has been planned out, and everything is (designed) to where we can perform to the best of our abilities.”
“His entire philosophy is what he can do for us, where he can take us to for our future,” added senior lineman Ben Kapelka. “He’s really focused on each individual kid.”
Ephraim is not taking over a down program. Prairie won the 3A Greater St. Helens League title in 2019 and after a rough abbreviated spring campaign, the Falcons returned in the fall of 2021 to go 6-4 overall and 2-2 in league play.
“Our goal is to win, obviously,” Watson said. “We don’t expect anything less than to win everything.”
Kapelka and Watson were freshmen when Prairie won the league title. Kapelka said the freshmen saw those seniors get the job done and set the goal to do that when they were seniors.
The win-loss record, the standings, they will all be sorted out through September and October.
But on Wednesday, for Ephraim, it was about a real fresh start. For Prairie. For everybody.
“What’s special about today is it’s been a while since it really felt normal. It feels normal,” Ephraim said. “The whole smell of football. The heat is back. It’s just exciting right now. We’re getting ready to start. So far, so good. We’re back to normal. I have young men who are ready to go. Just a great feeling.
“Everybody’s excited. We’re ready to go. We’re ready to go.”
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