CEDAR RAPIDS — It seemed like sound logic.
Cedar Rapids Washington has forever conducted its preseason football practices in the morning. That’s just the way it has been over the years.
But circumstances this season made Warriors head coach Maurice Blue change the schedule.
“This year, I moved it back to the afternoon,” said Blue, who has been at the school as assistant or head coach for 23 years. “I’ve got a couple of coaches still teaching, I’ve got one guy who’s a private contractor, so I’m thinking it’ll be easier for everyone to make practice if we did it at night. So, basically, we’ve got non-morning practice here for the first time in God knows how long, and we get screwed by it.”
Practice began last Monday for teams around the state, though, obviously, Washington wasn’t one of them. The derecho that destroyed the city came a bit after noon, meaning the Warriors haven’t gotten in even one official workout.
Those were canceled the rest of last week, though Washington got word Sunday it was going to be allowed to resume Monday. Washington and Cedar Rapids Jefferson are scheduled to begin their respectve seven-week regular seasons Aug. 28 at Kingston Stadium.
“If we don’t start practicing Monday, we won’t be able to play Jeff in two weeks,” Blue said.
Washington carries some momentum into 2020, as it won its final three games last season, averaging 37 points in them. Nine guys who started on that offensive side of the football return, including Henry Clymer, who has two previous years of starting experience under his belt.
The 6-foot-4 Clymer passed for 1,370 yards and 10 touchdowns last season. He threw for 680 yards and five TDs two years ago after having to be promoted from the sophomore team midway through because of injuries.
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“He has looked really good so far from when we’ve had him,” Blue said. “He has been throwing the ball really well and making good decisions. He’s tough, that’s his biggest thing. He’s a tough kid. I know he looks like a tall, skinny bean pole, but he’s a pretty tough cat. That toughness is one of those things he brings to the table. And he’s very coachable.
“I’m just hoping we play so we can watch him put everything together. He has started where he left off last year, so that’s been encouraging.”
Clymer has a lot of experienced weapons around him in receivers Zaren Ross-Carr, Max Bjornsen and Mason Ward. They combined for 93 catches last season.
Jabari Dobbs and Justin Scherrman combined for 350 rushing yards and four touchdowns and return at running back. Tate Sykora-Matthess, Noah Allen and Dallyn Garner got starts up front and come back.
“We’ve got a lot of guys back on offense, don’t have as many back on defense. But, offensively, we’ve got some skill guys back that can do some stuff,” Blue said. “We spent a lot of time during camp with the run game on both sides of the ball, just because we’ve got to get better at running the ball, and we’ve definitely got to get better at stopping the run.
“Obviously, when you start off 0-6 like we did, there is stuff the kids didn’t (understand). That’s not a kid problem, that’s usually a coach problem. So we went back and kind of slowed it down, feel like we did a better job of explaining everything. I think the kids have a better understanding of what’s going on.”
Now if they can only get onto the field and practice.
“I thought our camp went well,” Blue said. “We got a lot of stuff done, a lot of stuff covered. We were looking forward to rolling right into practice ... The derecho kind of screws our mojo, but I’m pretty confident we can get it back going again. We’ll just pick up where we left off.”
Cedar Rapids Washington, at a glance
Coach: Maurice Blue (3 years, 12-16 record)
Last year: 3-6
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Top returners: WR Mason Ward, WR Zaren Ross-Carr, RB Justin Scherrman, WR Max Bjornsen, LB Romen Young, QB Henry Clymer, RB-OLB Jabari Dobbs, OL-DL Noah Allen, DL Tony Westmoreland, OL Tate Sykora-Matthess, OL Dallyn Garner, K Seth Moore, DB Riley Martin, WR-DB DayMarcus Hare, LB Cavan Riley, OL Max Perez, OL Michael Gibson, QB Reid Ortiz.
August 28 — Cedar Rapids Jefferson
September 4 — at Cedar Rapids Kennedy
September 10 — Iowa City High
September 18 — at Linn-Mar
September 25 — at Iowa City Liberty
October 1 — Cedar Falls
October 9 — at Cedar Rapids Prairie
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