By JOE SCANNELLA
Spartans News Service
Image by International Jack Photography
EVERETT -- When the Seattle Spartans open their 2022 WFA season Saturday against the Portland Fighting Shockwave at Frank Goddard Field, expect to see a new quarterback, a new head coach, some veteran faces and a can-do attitude.
"We've been working hard getting ready for Portland," said Spartans owner/running back Nicole Pelham. "We've been running and working on toughness. We have a lot of new faces. It's going to be a fun year."
Lauren Blaser, a Navy veteran by way of Wisconsin, steps in after longtime quarterback Michelle Walsh retired. The Spartans are looking for Blaser's big arm to offset her diminutive stature. She's 5-foot-3. She will look to connect with new receiver Suellen Siqueira-Fisher to complement Seattle's rushing game.
Head coach Boni Weasley takes over from Rod Wright, who remains with the team as defensive coordinator. Weasly will bring her unique perspective to the Spartans. She is a former quarterback for the Tacoma Trauma and Seattle Majestics.
Returning players include Women's Football Alliance all star offensive linewomen Katrina Rooks and Ines Cuevas. Rooks moves from tackle to center, where her experience will provide a steadying influence. Rookies London Hester-Willams, Rachel Killstrom, Emily Ketzenberg, and Ciara Jay join Rooks and Cuevas.
The Spartans hope a revamped line can improve a rushing attack that ranked 10th in 2021. Pelham, a 2021 all-star, had 199 yards rushing last season, and added 19 tackles, three forced fumbles and 42 yards in kick returns, including a 21-yarder. Newcomers Maka Keala and Billie Kennedy will look to make their marks at running back.
On defense, all-star linebacker Phaedra Keaton returns to anchor the defensive interior. She had 21 tackles (27th WFA) in '21 and added a 48-yard kick return. All-star defensive back Ashley Gearardo is back after a solid 2021, in which she tallied two interceptions (10th WFA) and two pass deflections. Free safety Sabrina McDonald, another all-star, returns and adds tight end to her resume. Yollymar Delgado, who last played for the Everett Reign, makes the switch from down linewoman to linebacker, while rookie Hope Hochstetler looks to make an impact at defensive back.
WHAT: Seattle Spartans vs. Portland Fighting Shockwave.
WHEN: Saturday, 6 p.m. WHERE: Frank Goddard Memorial Stadium, 231-269 124th St. SW, Everett, WA 98204 ADMISSION: $15 adults; $13 with ticket from any previous game; $10 with a past season ticket, military or seniors, or a canned good. Discounts cannot be combined.