New-Look Mountaineers a Year Older and Stronger

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If Mikey Green was Brett Favre, then Ian Sprouffske is Andrew Luck.

Green, a 2021 Rainier grad, was the Mountaineers’ gunslinger, using a cannon arm to throw for an area-high 925 yards last year. He’s now playing baseball in Iowa.

Replacing him behind center is senior Ian Sprouffske, the Mountaineers’ star basketball player who football coach Andy Bartell said doesn’t have quite as big of arm as Green but has the intangibles and instincts to make up for it.

“He’s such a smart player that he’s going to run and command the offense a little differently than Mike did, he’s going to make decisions a little bit different than Mike did,” Bartell said. “His all-around game of making the best decision during the play; I think he’s going to have a real good shot of being a productive quarterback for us.”

Sprouffske is taking the reins of a Rainier team coming off a 2-4 overall season and 2-3 record in league play. The Mountaineers bring back 10 returning starters and will look to be near the top of Southwest Washington 2B Football’s North Division, which includes Napavine, Forks, Raymond-South Bend, Pe Ell-Willapa Valley, Morton-White Pass, Ilwaco and North Beach.

Another key player gone is workhorse tailback Jake Jeske, a first-team all-league selection last season as a sophomore, who moved to Eastern Washington to be near family.

Taking his spot will be a committee of running backs, led by senior Sean Mahaffey, who moves to the backfield after earning first-team all-league wideout honors last year.

“He’s had a really good offseason,” Bartell said. “He’s as strong as he’s ever been. He’s a weight-room junkie. He gets in there every single moment he can. He’s always bugging me about getting up there, even if it’s by himself. I’m excited to see what he’s got.”

Joining him in the backfield are senior Kyle Peterson, senior Ethan Gonzalez, a second-team all-league fullback, and sophomore Christopher Grey.

Catching passes will be junior Jacob Uch, who had somewhat of a down year last season due to the lack of opportunities in the shortened year.

“He’s back, bigger and stronger,” Bartell said. “He’s a junior now and he feels more confident. I’m expecting to see big things from him.”

A newcomer who could make an impact is freshman Jake Meldrum, an exceptional athlete who looks to be in the rotation of the starters for both offense and defense. Grey was a freshman last year but had a great off season and has the potential for a big year.

Bartell thinks the offensive line could be one of the team’s biggest strengths. Anchoring the line will be seniors and returning starters Tim Zane and Curtis Keller, along with sophomore Ryder Cruise, who also started last year.

“They already know the program and what we want to do,” Bartell said. “I think our offensive line can be better than it’s been in year’s past. We might try to run the football more than we ever have. Doesn’t mean we won’t mix it up in the air because that’s what we like to do as well.”

Rainier kicked off its season by hosting Toledo on Friday. The Mountaineers travel to non-league rival Tenino on Friday, Sept. 10 in their week two matchup.

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