First step for Panther football

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D'Andre Aaron (left) delivers a hit on defense for the Washougal High School football team during practice.

With a new head coach preaching physicality and toughness, the Washougal High School football players take the first step to becoming a harder, better, faster and stronger team Friday.

The Panthers pounce into the 2010 season against the Hudson’s Bay Eagles. The game starts at 7 p.m., at Kiggin’s Bowl in downtown Vancouver. New Washougal head coach Bob Jacobs grits his teeth with anticipation for the opening kick off.

“I’m excited,” he said. “Bay is going to be a tough, physical opponent. Our job is to play hard-nosed Panther football. Physicality and toughness are going to be our brand.”

As the first game approaches, Jacobs and his fellow coaches continue to fine-tune the offense and defense. The level of competition for the starting spots seems to rise with each practice.

“That spirit of competition is good. It helps keep us from being complacent,” Jacobs said. “It all starts with fundamentals. Running, blocking and tackling. We’re going to stick with that until we don’t even have to think about fundamentals, they just happen.”

Jacobs said one of the toughest challenges to overcome during a game is adversity.

“I want to see us learn how to win ball games. How to start them, how to play through adversity and how to finish strong,” he said. “Adversity tends to break a team down. The key for us is, can we stick together during adverse conditions? Our job is to go out there and win that play, and then try to win the next one.”

When it comes to coaching football in Washougal, Jacobs believes in one town and one team. The players, coaches, parents, students, staff and community members are all in this together.

“We play for our football family. That’s our school and our community,” Jacobs said. “I think we are going to play an exciting brand of football. We want to see Fishback Stadium rocking. We want these schools that come in to know we’re not going to be pushovers.”

The first game at Fishback is Sept. 17, when Washougal takes on Fort Vancouver.