KITTITAS – After an egregious 0-5 start to the season, even senior defensive back for Kittitas High School Wyatt Stickney had his doubts.

“No one wants to start 0 and 5. Getting off to that start, it’s like, ‘Are we ever going to win a game?’” he said.

Three games later, the Coyotes find themselves in a position to have a chance to earn a bid to the 2B state tournament. And it’s going to take one more game to get it done.

Kittitas (3-5) has rallied off three straight wins over Dayton/Waitsburg (24-18), Mabton (18-0) and Liberty Christian (30-0). With a hodgepodge of healthy players, position changes, and more game experience for the plethora of young players Kittitas rosters, everything is beginning to click at the right time.

And there’s been a revamped culture — and it’s palpable.

“After the Asotin game, Hutch (head coach Dusty Hutchinson) said, ‘The culture needs to change.’ And you can really feel that happening among the group,” Stickney said. “The culture is changing. We believe in ourselves, we believe in our teammates, and we’re just coming together as one cohesive unit and starting to string together some wins.”

Kittitas had to face a few of the toughest teams in the state with Tri-Cities Prep (8-1), Columbia Burbank (8-1), and Asotin (7-1). In those three games alone, Kittitas fell by a combined score of 154-18. The two other losses were to White Swan (38-6) and Coupeville (28-0).

“We’re young,” Hutchinson said, who’s in his second season as head coach. “Starting off with TCP, Burbank, Asotin, all those tough teams from the get-go, that’s hard to teach stuff. I think finally they’re all getting it.”

Kittitas had been rolling with sophomore quarterback Blake Catlin all season until he suffered an injury in the Asotin game. Back up quarterback Stickney was also banged up so Kittitas had no choice but to place freshman wideout Josh Rosbach into the position.

Kittitas still lost to Asotin 48-12, but Rosbach since has been dubbed the starter and it’s paid dividends. His prowess with the ball has opened up the Coyotes offense vastly and it showed in Kittitas’ first win of the season against Dayton/Waitsburg.

He rushed for 150 yards on 12 carries with two touchdowns, also adding an 85-yard kick-off return.

“If you can have a dual-threat quarterback, passing and running, why not keep him there?” Hutchinson said.

Rosbach is all in for the position switch, even if it means not playing wide receiver anymore. He has experience at quarterback in both middle school and the select teams he’s vied with.

“I played quarterback for most of my teams,” Rosbach said.

While he hasn’t thrown for many yards in this three-game stretch (150 yards with two touchdowns), his rushing numbers have been impressive (40 carries for 315 yards with two touchdowns).

DEFENSIVE TURNAROUND

The Coyote defense has made quite the turnaround, too. In last week’s 30-0 triumph, they forced five turnovers with one being Dawson Byer’s 20-yard pick-6. Catlin recorded two interceptions and Stickney had a touchdown-saving interception before the half to keep Kittitas up, 10-0.

The week prior against Mabton, Kittitas forced three fumbles and held them scoreless.

“Just guys playing more,” Hutchinson said of the defense’s performance over the last three games. “And knowing the aspects of the game of football.”

PRIDE CIRCUIT

After the White Swan loss, Hutchinson added what the team calls a “Pride Circuit” at the start of practice. It’s four different stations including tire flipping and ladder drills to get their mind ready.

“Everyone wants to go and start practice off right,” Stickney said. “Starts the practice off on a good note. Everyone’s energized, everyone’s ready to roll.”

CROSS OVER GAME

Kittitas will travel to Tonasket (6-2) for a 6 p.m. kick-off this Friday. Winner moves on to state.

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