The Goldendale Sentinel - Headlines & History since 1879

By Jaryd Cline
Sports editor 

New Goldendale coach and staff impressed after strong offseason, Open season Friday at White Salmon


August 29, 2018

Jaryd Cline

New Goldendale football coach Aaron Cochran works with the offense during Monday's light practice in preparation for Friday's game at White Salmon.

New Goldendale football head coach Aaron Cochran has had a burning passion for the game of football for as long as he can remember.

"My dad and I would watch this movie called Crunch Course like every weekend and ... it was awesome. It was professional football and I was like 'Man, that's the coolest,'" Cochran said.

Cochran watched the film – which featured some of the toughest players of all time like New York's Lawrence Taylor and Chicago's Dick Butkus laying down vicious hits – over and over again, only growing the love and aspirations he had for the game at such a young age.

Whether it was playing touch football in the lawn of the Holy Trinity Catholic Church or playing in the Turkey Bowl Thanksgiving morning at Barthlow Field, anything to do with a pigskin always has been one of Cochran's top hobbies.

Growing up in Klickitat County and going through the Goldendale School District, it wasn't long after he started playing organized football when he realized that he wanted to become involved in the game later on in life.

"Goldendale's a place I always wanted to coach at since I was in middle school," Cochran said. "Myself along with everybody on the staff, this is where we really wanted to coach at some point."

The 2010 GHS graduate Cochran joins 2011 GHS graduate Blake Lesko and 2009 GHS graduate Kyle Cairns on the gridiron staff, brilliant football minds whose passion for the game also goes unrivaled.

But Cochran, much like the young Timberwolves gridders this season, was somewhat of an underdog moving on to the next level of athletics after finishing a brilliant career at GHS in both football and baseball.

"I never thought I would be able to play football in college since I was so little," Cochran said.

Describing himself as an undersized defensive end, he was on both the football and baseball teams his first year at Whitworth University, an NCAA Division III school in Spokane, but shortly after that initial year decided to focus on one of the sports.

"Then I realized that football was just what I wanted to be doing and it's just kind of expanded from there," Cochran said.

He may have been undersized as a player, but was overstocked with enthusiasm, desire, had an unmatched work ethic along with a motor that never quit running.

He was named one of the Pirates team captains his senior season, and finished his final year as the team leader in sacks (5) and tackles for loss (12.5) while also earning All Northwest Conference Second Team honors. He also spent three season coaching Whitworth's defensive line after his playing days, living in Spokane during football season and teaching in Kiana, a remote Alaskan village near the northwest corner of the state which is closer to Russia than it is Anchorage, for the rest of the year.

He picked up a lot of football knowledge just being around all the intelligent minds up there, and already has funneled what he learned there with the rest of the staff here.

"There's so much to learn in a place like that where there's so many people that know so much," Cochran said. "I learned a ton there and it's awesome to come back here and get to put what I know with my coaching staff.

"And then get to learn what my coaching staff knows too. Because the guys I have on my staff – Blake and Kyle – I think are really knowledgeable in the game of football and it's really good to be able to put our heads together and be able to talk about stuff because we've all seen stuff from a different perspective and I think it's really meshing together really well," he added.

Lesko is entering his fourth season of coaching the Timberwolves and this will be Cairns' first season coaching at his alma matter after a few years as an assistant in Lyle.

Now back in Goldendale, Cochran believes he's here to stay. It wasn't more than two months ago when he married Sarah Lancaster, a 2012 GHS graduate who recently graduated nursing school in Moses Lake and now works in Yakima. She told Cochran to go for it when he asked about potentially applying for the head coaching position, and here we are now.

Throughout the first weeks of practice, Cochran and the rest of the staff has been pleased with how quickly the young Timberwolves have been picking things up, which is impressive considering the vast majority of players are freshmen and sophomores.

One of the juniors, Corbin Bland, is locked and loaded to start under center on Friday. He's spent time as a receiver and quarterback in the past, and should be a tough, dual-threat quarterback for the Wolves. The state track and field competitor also will be one of the fastest players on the gridiron no matter what team is lining up on the other side.

Other upperclassmen for the Wolves are Dakota Ingraham, Napoleon Owen, Chris Mersch, and Angus O'Connor. However, Goldendale will be without a familiar face on the field. Senior Brian Waddell has been tough for the Timberwolves the past three seasons, but will miss all football season and the bulk of wrestling season after having his knee operated on not too long ago.

While the numbers are a little less than the staff would have liked, that's the only thing that's been disappointing so far.

"I think that the kids have done a really good job of picking up the offense and defense. We threw a lot at them at the very beginning," Cochran said. "Their effort mentally and physically has been really good, so we're really excited about that."

Many of the kids also put in tons of time throughout the summer when they necessarily didn't have to.

"The kids have done a good job this spring and summer," Cochran said. "They've done a really good job in the weight room."

The number of kids in the weight room seemingly grew each week to levels that hadn't been seen recently, and the kids showed up for two-a-day practices ready to roll.

While Cochran admitted the team has a long ways to go, with the way the kids have been working so far, success shouldn't be too far down the road.

"We're not where we want to be yet but we're on the right path I think," Cochran said. "We're really excited about the way our boys are developing both on the field and hopefully off it too."

Whether it be helping a community member with groceries outside a store or representing the team in public with respect and dignity, the football staff is just as excited about how the Wolves handle themselves off the field as they do on it.

White Salmon

Like the Timberwolves, the Bruins also have a new leader at the helm. After former Goldendale head football coach John Hallead left the Bruins after six years to take the head coaching job at Onalaska High School, Dan Smith took over as the new coach.

In the past, the Bruins have been a run heavy team with a wing t offense which has many options out of the backfield. But with a new coach, things may be a bit different.

"Anytime you have a new coach you're going to be having different things," Cochran said. "Really, we're planning for a lot and we're going to adjust for what we see."

The Bruins and Timberwolves have been kicking off football season for over a decade, but the Bruins took the opener last year 53-0 in Goldendale. The last time Goldendale knocked off the Bruins was in 2014 when the Wolves won 22-19.


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