New era underway for Grizzly football

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John Lobbestael

Excitement is the word John Lobbestael uses to describe the brand of football he hopes to deliver this fall as the Grizzlies’ new head football coach.

Excitement is not the word you would use to describe the past two decades or so of Grizzly football.

Sunnyside is mired in a 22-game losing streak and has ended each of the past seven seasons with losing records.

A 5-5 record in 2007 was the high water mark for Lobbestael’s predecessor, Mark Marro, who posted a win-loss record of 31-99 during 13 seasons at the helm.

A math teacher at SHS, Lobbestael has been a coach with the Grizzly freshman football team the past five years.

His background also includes a stint as quarterback for the semi-pro Yakima Mavericks football team. He played college baseball at Central Washington University.

The key to building a winning program in Sunnyside, he says, doesn’t involve a major overhaul.

What it involves is attention to detail and commitment.

“It comes down to execution and making sure the players know their responsibilities,” Lobbestael says. “That way they can play fast and aggressive.”

He also wants to see excitement on the field and on the sideline. “When a player makes a great play it should be obvious from the response by the rest of the team.”

Speaking of the team, Lobbestael says job one right now – besides assembling a staff of assistant coaches - is to retain Grizzly football players.

There are weightlifting opportunities for student athletes each weekday at 3:30 p.m., except for the 4 p.m. start time on Wednesdays.

Lobbestael is also gearing up for June 1, the date when Sunnyside can start spring football drills.

Excitement, enthusiasm and commitment are traits Lobbestael also wants to see at the middle school and Grid Kid football levels.

Loebbestael, a 2004 graduate of Oak Harbor, recalled his own experience growing up as high school coaches would interact with football players at the middle school and Grid Kid levels.

The result was an improved transition for players as they progressed into the high school ranks. It also brought about a State championship in 2007 when his brother, Marshall, was quarterbacking the team.

He plans to do the same thing in Sunnyside in networking with middle school and Grid Kid football programs here.

Lobbestael’s vision is to see players’ energy and excitement for football “…carry over from Grid Kids to middle school and all the way through their senior year.”



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