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Gillam era set to take off

Coaches, players and fans of Bremerton football want to see this new era return to the days of old.

Not the recent past, one in which the Knights have finished with one win or none in six seasons since 1996.

Instead, the days when new coach Nate Gillam was speedy back and hard-hitting backer Nate Gillam and the Knights were a force to be reckoned with in the Olympic League and the entire state.

There was pride in the program and that is the first thing Gillam wants to see return at BHS.

“We want to bring the pride back to the program and the school,” Gillam said. “Even though these (players) are a little too young to remember what it was like to be a Bremerton Knight before it took a turn for the worse.”

Gillam has seen attitudes change for the better over the course of the summer.

“We have a real good senior class and a lot of hard-working kids,” he said. “Seniors have really bought in and are showing outstanding leadership. They’re the ones who are getting it moving.”

The Knights have a senior at quarterback, the position most offenses look to for leadership, in Moises Lovinaria (6-0, 170).

“He’s making things fun and being a leader on the field,” Gillam said.

Field general Lovinaria will share the bulk-load of the carries out of the Bremerton backfield with junior running back Brandon Hansen (6-0, 180).

“He has brought stability to the offense,” Gillam said of Hansen. “He’s a good go-to guy.”

Leading the way for Lovinaria and Hansen to pick up some yards as well as creating pressure on opposing quarterbacks to make things easier for the pair in the defensive secondary will be lineman Wes Wilson (6-1, 230).

Wilson returns after a leg injury kept him off the field last season.

“He’s real hungry to play,” Gillam said. “He’s gained weight and put on muscle and worked himself back into shape.”

Keeping things loose for the Knights as they have worked hard in preparation for this afternoon’s opener hosting Sequim is senior lineman P.J. Mahli (5-8, 230).

“P.J. has been moved around a bit,” Gillam said. “He’s a funny guy. He keeps it light and fun. He has a good attitude.”

Gillam and offensive coordinator Ron Torres will primarily run out of a Wing-T formation when the Knights have the ball. The coaches agree that the plan is to keep things simple in the first year of new leadership, easing the adjustment for the Bremerton players.

“The (Wing-T) matches well with not always having the biggest guys,” Gillam said. “On both sides of the ball, we want to keep it simple, basic and build toughness and camaraderie.”

Defensively, things will stay simple also, as the Knights plan to stack the box with a 4-4 base defense.

Gillam said his special team units have looked better than he anticipated, led by senior punter Zach Dunmire (6-2, 150). The names in the placekicking and returner spots are not yet written in stone.

“We’re starting with a blank slate,” Gillam said. “Almost starting literally from ground zero.”

Hansen is pleased with the direction he feels his teammates are headed in.

“Bringing the pride back is awesome and really important,” he said. “You always want to go out there to win. Sometimes you don’t, but you always try for it.”

“(Pride) shows how everybody’s on board and how the coaches really care about this program,” Lovinaria said. “We got new coaches, some new players, we’re gonna change it up.”

The Knights’ roster is small, both in number of players and the size of the guys they have, but they have an opportunity to show some big-time heart.

“There’s not many of us but the guys who are here are giving it their all,” Hansen said. “We’re turning it around. Everybody’s giving 110 percent.”

The Knights face a tough test in their first competition today as they welcome the Sequim Wolves to Memorial Stadium at 2 p.m. The Wolves won the Nisqually League last season and posted an undefeated 10-0 mark in doing so before they lost their first-round Class 3A playoff game by a single point. Senior running back Brian Savage posted more than 1,500 yards on the ground last season.

“They were pretty good last year. They’re returning a big, solid rusher,” Gillam said of the Wolves. “They’re a smaller school, but they’re always pretty solid. It’s always been a little bit of a rivalry going back to the older Olympic League.”

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