TACOMA, Washington - For the better part of eight years, Puget Sound football has been heralded for its aerial prowess and ability to put points on the board in a hurry. But a dynamic shift is on the horizon.
Three Logger defenders earned All-Northwest Conference honors in 2018, and the trio returns in 2018 along with experienced depth. Defensive backs Zackary Teats and Jason Clayton were the nation's top two leaders in passes defended per game last year, as both earned a spot on the All-NWC Second Team.
Senior defensive lineman Todd Blakely was an All-NWC Honorable Mention after he finished the 2017 season with 42 tackles, 10 of which were behind the line of scrimmage. Defensive lineman Braden Ash, a junior, is back after leading the Maroon and White with six sacks last fall.
Keanu Songcuan will continue to be a hard hitter for the 2018 Loggers. He matched Ash's 12.5 tackles for a loss last season, as both finished fourth in the NWC in the category.
The Logger offense will lean more on the ground game than it has in years past. Vance Wood and Duncan Varela are poised to get a bulk of the carries this fall. Wood finished the 2017 campaign with five rushing touchdowns, and Varela averaged a whopping 8.2 yards per carry before an injury cut his freshman season short.
The improvements both on defense and in the ground game might make one overlook the Loggers' passing game. However, presumed starting quarterback Nik Bernhardt has plenty of weapons. The senior signal caller has wideouts Collin Heimbach, Michael Zabran, and Tacoma's own AJ Johnson as serious threats in the passing game.
Heimbach grabbed touchdown catches in three different games last year, and he broke out with six receptions for 83 yards in a game against George Fox. Zabran's size and shiftiness will remind Logger fans of former slot receiver Kevin Miller '16. Johnson battled through injuries in 2017, but in his seven games played he finished with at least five receptions five times.
Dwight Jackson, Johnson, Losack, and Teats are the 2018 team captains.
The Loggers begin their season at Claremont-M-S, Saturday, Sept. 1, and Puget Sound's home-opener is Sept. 8 against Redlands.
This year's Homecoming game is a big one, as Puget Sound welcomes crosstown rival Pacific Lutheran to Baker Stadium, Sept. 29. Puget Sound will honor its 2018 Athletics Hall of Fame inductees during halftime of the Homecoming game.