Tornados Football Returns as Spring Ball Practices Begin

By Jacob Dimond / jake@yelmonline.com
Posted 6/7/22

Following an impressive 10-1 season and a 3A state quarter-finals appearance, the Yelm Tornados football team has returned to action for a series of spring ball practices and scrimmages.

Yelm is …

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Tornados Football Returns as Spring Ball Practices Begin

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Following an impressive 10-1 season and a 3A state quarter-finals appearance, the Yelm Tornados football team has returned to action for a series of spring ball practices and scrimmages.

Yelm is returning a plethora of starters, which includes six offensive players and eight defensive players.

On the offensive side, tackle Landen Barger, center Kolby Henry, running back Brayden Platt, fullback Ray Wright, and wide receivers Kyler Ronquillo and Aden Schaler will return for the season.

Key returners on a stout Tornados defensive unit include Barger at defensive tackle, Wright and Platt at inside linebacker, William Carreto at outside linebacker, and a defensive backfield that includes Ronquillo, Schaler, Pavaan Bankston and Marius Aalona.

Head coach Jason Ronquillo, who is entering his ninth year of coaching at Yelm High School, sees each year of spring football practices as an opportunity for athletes to learn, work and potentially make a name for themselves.

“We have 130 hungry athletes looking forward to adding to the successful tradition we’ve built in Yelm. If the athletes are willing to learn, work and build a special bond with each other, it should lead to a successful summer,” Coach Ronquillo said. 

Coach Ronquillo and the coaching staff view the spring season as an instrumental piece in developing their athletes.

“Our goal is to make sure the athletes take it one day at a time, brick by brick, to build a foundation for what a championship team needs for the fall,” he said.

Wright won back to back South Sound Conference defensive MVPs. Going into his senior season, the linebacker has high expectations for the team.

“I am looking forward to this being the beginning of my last chapter in high school football,” Wright said. “I also expect this to be the greatest team Yelm has ever fielded, so (the) sky’s the limit on the possibilities. But for now it’s one practice, one snap, one game at a time. I am looking forward to the outcome.”

Kyler Ronquillo will return for his fourth year as a Tornado. He sees the spring season as a big opportunity for the Tornados to build team chemistry. The electric player has created quite the resume on the field. He won the South Sound Conference MVP during his sophomore campaign, and was voted Offensive MVP and First Team All-SSC defensive back during his junior season.

“The biggest benefit of spring ball is the (building of) team chemistry. Working along with your teammates really will help take you to the next level of timing, gap responsibility, and the overall trust you have for the people next to you,” Kyler Ronquillo stated.

The athlete has been a varsity mainstay since he debuted as a freshman in the 2020 campaign. He caught 69 catches for six touchdowns and totaled nearly 1,200 all-purpose yards as a junior.

Returning to the offensive and defensive lineups for a third straight year, the junior linebacker and running back Platt sees spring ball as an opportunity for Yelm to usher in newcomers to the program, as well as break some of the rust off.

“Our expectations this year in spring ball is to get the team functioning together,” Platt said. “We had a few new additions to the team so we’re aiming to get them set up for success.”

Platt, who is a four-star linebacker, according to 24/7 Sports, holds seven college offers with the most recent being from the University of California-Berkeley. He is the sixth ranked linebacker overall in the country, and is the third ranked player overall in the state of Washington. Platt is also the first Yelm Tornado to ever appear in 24/7 Sports’ top 100 list, and is ranked 88th overall in the country.



The Tornados welcomed several new players to the program, as incoming juniors Isaiah Patterson (linebacker) and Kenji Scanlan (defensive end) each look to leave their mark. Patterson is a three star linebacker, according to 24/7 sports. The junior recently received his first Division 1 offer from the University of Oregon.

Scanlan has had quite the competitive off-season as well, as he made the all-tournament team at a five-on-five lineman tournament in Utah.

Platt, Barger and Patterson had the opportunity to compete against each other as they took part in the second annual “Battle of the Brands” game on Sunday, May 29. Platt was a member of team Ford Sports Performance (FSP) based in Bellevue, while Patterson and Barger each represented team Heir based in Puyallup.

“The FSP/Heir game went really well, but what was most important was being able to learn from the (FSP) coaches throughout the spring season,” Platt said.

Patterson, who was named defensive MVP by team Heir during the Battle of the Brands matchup, sees his off-season work with Heir as an opportunity for growth.

“The game was a super cool experience and I loved the competition. I got to learn and get some real time at the linebacker position. I’ll make sure to build on what I’ve done so far in the offseason come fall and spring, and continue to improve and grow,” Patterson said.

The new Yelm linebacker is excited to be a part of a new environment.

“I think we’re going to go super far and spring ball is just going to be the kickstarter. I’m going to use it to learn and really gel with the team,” Patterson said. “It’s a new system and environment so I have to adapt. I’m super stoked.”

Barger, who was the man in the middle for the Heir defense, will continue that role with the Tornados this season. During the Battle of the Brands game, Barger registered a monster sack from the defensive tackle position against team FSP. He also excels on offense as an offensive tackle.

“My expectations for this coming spring are to come out and show everyone what Yelm is about,” Barger said in reference to the Tornados scrimmage schedule. “I feel that we have a point to prove this year as a team. We fell short last year deep in the playoffs and everyone is questioning if we can do it again, so I feel that coming out strong in spring ball will show that this year we aren’t taking any chances.”

The incoming junior Tornado lineman also reflected on his off-season experience with Heir.

“One thing I took from the (Battle of the Brands) game is not to be complacent with the position you’re in. Always work like someone is better than you because most times there is,” Barger said.

The scrimmages that occur during the spring do not appear on a win-loss record.

“We as a team expect to really excel in any camps and scrimmages we partake in,” Coach Ronquillo said. “We’re also looking to perfect our craft around learning coverage techniques, defensive personnel, and understanding the reasoning behind offensive play calling.”

Following the conclusion of the spring season, Yelm is set to open up its regular season on Friday, Sept. 2 against Camas High School in a non-conference matchup at home.

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