VANCOUVER — These Skyview Storm have plenty of motivation, a ton of drive, and a whole lot of potential.
What they don’t have is a league championship. What they don’t have is a state championship. That other team in the Class 4A Greater St. Helens League owns those two things.
The Skyview Storm, a team that went to the Class 4A state semifinals a year ago, want to finish the job this season. In October for a league championship. In November during the playoffs. In December in the championship game.
Senior wide receiver and defensive end Cole Grossman will be one of the leaders of that cause, and he has no problem saying what is on his mind when it comes to Skyview’s biggest football rival this decade.
“I hate Camas in every sport. I don’t like to lose. So when anybody beats me, I’m not going to like them,” Grossman said. “I respect them a lot. Great team. Great coaches. They know what they’re doing.
“They’re good. They are really good. And I hate them,” Grossman said.
Hate is one of those trigger words for some. In proper context, Grossman is using the word for motivation. Grossman does not really hate any person at Camas. He just hates the idea that Camas owns Skyview and every other team in Clark County. Camas has won 50 consecutive regular-season games. The last time Skyview beat Camas was in 2011 and the two teams were not even in the same league.
Since then, it’s been all Camas.
If Grossman and the Storm have their way this season, they will be changing the storyline.
It is for a similar reason that Grossman has watched video of Skyview’s loss last season to Richland in the state semifinals.
“Any game we lose, I watch it a lot. I take it on myself that we lost,” Grossman said. “I watched that game several times to make sure I don’t make the same mistakes again. I’ll give it to Richland. They’re a bad-ass team. But we definitely want to play them again. We have a chip on our shoulders.”
The 2017 Storm want to change the storylines from last year, from recent years.
Grossman can relate.
The 6-foot-5, 210-pound all-purpose athlete moved to Skyview from Battle Ground prior to his junior year.
“When I got here, it was definitely a fresh start,” Grossman said. “When I got here, I had to earn everybody’s respect. When they took me in, I knew it was the right fit. I could just work on myself, become a better person.
“When I was over there, I had a big ego,’’ Grossman said of his time at Battle Ground. “Coming over here made me realize this is where I’m at, and I’ve got to get better.”
Skyview coach Steve Kizer said Grossman has been a model citizen and player since arriving at the school.
“He’s as athletic as anyone we’ve had here,” said Kizer, now in his 14th season with the Storm. “Just a great work ethic. He loves it and shows up ready to get better every day.”
College coaches have taken notice, too. Grossman has picked up scholarship offers from Hawaii and Portland State and has been talking to coaches from bigger programs, as well.
He might be the most sought after Storm player this season, but interestingly, he was not all-league last season. Kizer said that had more to do with not having huge numbers on offense because he was learning a new system and Skyview was loaded with skill players. Defensively, the Storm used six, seven guys, rotating in on the defensive line. Grossman was a pass-rushing specialist.
“He was great last year. And with his knowledge and increasing strength, we think he’s going to be better this year,” Kizer said.
In high school, Grossman is a wide receiver. Kizer said if Grossman turns his attention to tight end or really focuses in at defensive end in the college game he has the potential to play even beyond college.
That is high praise.
Grossman has been getting a lot of attention this offseason as he grows into his frame. The recruiting spotlight can be bright, but he said he has been trying to keep it from becoming a distraction.
“I feel it is a lot of hype and I can’t let it get in my head,” he said.
Interestingly, that could be the motto for the entire team. The Storm return eight players in 10 positions who earned first- or second-team all-league status.
Jayden Chatman and Jevon Kelly expect to dominate the defensive line. Opponents trying to pass the ball will have to contend with defensive backs Angelo Sarchi and Jovon Sewell.
The team brings back eight starters on defense. And one assistant coach noted it is the most experienced offensive line/running back combo the program has had in years.
Kizer, who loves downplaying expectations for his team every year, understands why that is difficult to do this season. Instead, he just smiles when asked how good this squad could be and gives a simple response: “It could be a fun year.”
Of course there is one big question mark. Quarterback Brody Barnum has graduated, and Max Rose is No. 1 on the depth chart at that position going into late August. Nick Stewart and Matt Ioane are also competing for the starting position.
Michael Lundgren and Noah Hellyer will anchor the offensive line. Tavis Pinkney should be catching plenty of passes, no matter who is quarterbacking this squad.
So much talent and only so many positions. It’s a good problem for the Skyview Storm.
Now it’s time for the Storm to prove what they already believe, that they can change the storyline of this decade.
“Once we make the playoffs, there is only one goal after that,” Grossman said. “We’re not going to lose.”