Newport Knights head football coach Drew Oliver, center, encourages one of his players during footwork drills on the first day of spring football practice sessions on June 11 at Newport High School in Factoria. Shaun Scott/staff photo

Newport Knights head football coach Drew Oliver, center, encourages one of his players during footwork drills on the first day of spring football practice sessions on June 11 at Newport High School in Factoria. Shaun Scott/staff photo

Youthful Knights football team is focused on the fundamentals

Competition is the mantra of Newport spring practice sessions.

The first day of spring football practice couldn’t had been more perfect for the Newport Knights football squad.

There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and temperatures were in the 70s as players hit the field in Factoria with their helmets for the first time since November of 2017.

“It feels great. The sun is shining out here for us today and the tempo has been great. There is always a lot of new faces and kids trying to learn in a hurry. The effort looks great and that is all you can ask for at this point,” Newport head coach Drew Oliver said midway through the first practice on June 11.

Oliver, who will be in his fifth season as the Knights head coach, said there were close to 50 players in attendance for the first day of spring drills.

“That is a good number for us right now. We’re trying to get these guys solid in their commitment right now,” Oliver said.

The Knights graduated a bevy of seniors from the 2017 squad, including stalwart players Charlie Baumann (offensive/defensive lineman), Brandon Steinberg (quarterback), Cyrus Nimmo (running back) and Marcus Fukutomi (utility).

“There are some big shoes to fill. The opportunity is there for a lot of these young guys to make their mark. The senior class is leading very well,” Oliver said.

Knights’ senior quarterback Tre Louis believes his team’s roster remains talented despite losing many of its stars to graduation.

“We have a good amount of our secondary (defensive backs) returning and half of our offensive and defensive line is returning. I feel like it’s not going to be that big of a deal losing a lot of those guys but it is going to be a lot of work to get back to where we were at last year. I think we are going to be able to do it,” Louis said.

The Knights finished the 2017 season with an overall record of 5-5. Oliver is very comfortable with Louis leading the charge at the quarterback position. Louis played wide receiver, running back and also had some snaps at the quarterback spot last season. Louis backed up Steinberg from 2015-2017.

“He has been running this offense for a long time. He is going to step up and take those reigns. He did a lot of everything for us last year,” Oliver said of Louis.

Newport will open the 2018 season with three non-league games against the Interlake Saints, Bellevue Wolverines and Mercer Island Islanders. All three of their non-league opponents compete in the KingCo 3A Division.

Oliver, who graduated from Newport in the 1990s, is excited about facing off against teams in close proximity to Factoria.

“It takes me back to the old days of KingCo football. I used to play against those guys all the time and I love those rivalries. Hopefully we can keep that going and stay pretty local,” Oliver said of the non-league matchups. “There is a lot of good football around here and that is what we’re going to see.”

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