Auburn Mountainview football ready to go for 2023 season

Lions will compete with Auburn and Riverside for city bragging rights on the football field.

The Auburn Mountainview Lions have an opportunity to take advantage of the upcoming 2023 football season.

Over the last three years the 3A NPSL league title has bounced around Auburn high schools. Head Coach Kent Rodseth is impressed with the group effort this year.

“These guys in general have been working so hard and they’re a fun group to coach,” he said. “They get along, they practice hard, they show up everyday and do everything we try and get them to do.”

The Lions are three years removed from their 2020 league title season, but haven’t been out of the picture since then. In 2021, they finished third, and last season they finished second, losing their only league game to Auburn. Every year since the Lions won the league, an Auburn high school has held the trophy at the end of the year.

Opening the fall season, the Lions had a jamboree against Gig Harbor and Silas: “The good thing for them is they’re not seeing JV guys. They see guys that are first team on the other team. They’re playing fast,” Rodseth said.

This year, the Lions have one of the top players in the league under center in junior Elijah Baird.

“We’ve got, I think, by far the best quarterback in the league if not the state. I think he’s a top 10 quarterback in the state. As long as you got that guy and keep him healthy, you got a chance,” said Rodseth.

Around camp, there is a lot of excitement, and the Lions seem to have a lot of confidence going into this season. Two sport star Mande Wanlemvo couldn’t talk highly enough about his quarterback.

“(Baird) being able to have the mindset of being coachable and be able to fix the small mistakes, and as well as coordinating with the wide receivers, is so good. Everything has been clicking faster and better,” Wanlemvo said.

Auburn Mountainview’s 2023 league schedule is an interesting one. Their league schedule opens with Auburn and closes with Auburn Riverside, bookending their year with rivalry games. Coach Rodseth sees it as a “fun thing” playing their rivals first and last.

“You open league season with a rival and close with a rival. If we do what we should do, we got a chance,” Rodseth said.

For Wanlemvo, seeing younger players want more reps lets him know the Lions will have a good year.

“Most of us really want it. I see a bunch of freshmen and sophomores trying to get more reps. Everybody’s trying to mess with each other saying ‘I’m better than you, blah blah blah.’ Everyone’s always trying to get better,” Wanlemvo said.

The Lions’ defense has been making heads turn in camp, especially Wanlemvo: “Our defense has been the best so far. Our defensive backs and linebackers (have been impressive). Nobody is stopping our defense,” he said.

For the second straight season, the Lions opened their season against Kentridge.This year is a different story compared to last year. Due to self-imposed suspensions, they played short-handed. The Chargers took down Auburn Mountainview, 14-0, the first regular season shutout since 2017.

“I suspended seven starters, so that hurt. We just had to deal with it. We didn’t deal with it very well. We’re a little bit better focused (this year),” Rodseth said.