Took a swing through the southern portion of the Greater Spokane League on Day One, leaving me with one question: Whose idea was it to close down 37th between Hart Field and Ferris during beginning of football practices?
Monday began at Lewis and Clark (state champs 2007), detoured down to 29th to reach Ferris (back-to-back state semifinalists), hit Central Valley (top eight last year) and concluded the day watching University and the new program of Bill Diedrick.
The way the GSL has played the last couple years football has made it a special thing to witness. As coach Jim Sharkey said on Monday, "I think this league has really arrived. You'll see a high level of play even with people graduated. All the 4A schools are going to be pretty good."
Lewis and Clark - although the Tigers graduated a bunch of seniors and have a new coach in Dave Hughes, although Tom Yearout, now the defensive line coach, calls the transition seamless. Defensive coordinator Jeff Reyburn has retired. Former University offensive coordinator Joe Turman has joined LC. Hughes said they are replacing those graduated with more seniors and expect status to remain quo on defense and in the offensive line. Obviously, replacing the quarterback as been a priority (either Yearout's senior son Dave or sophomore Jeff Livingston), but rushing star Levi Taylor is bigger, stronger, fast and healthy and Austin Ehlo gives them a big play receiver if they can get him the ball.
Ferris - The Saxons looked game-day ready while I watched and why not? WSU-bound quarterback Connor Halliday returns with a host of quality receivers (including Jason Bates and slot Jordan Tonani and most of the rest of the basketball team), a veteran line with two Division I recruits Trevor Poole and Kjelby Oiland) and a new defensive coordinator, ex-NC head coach Grady Emmerson. Sharkey said the team is ahead of where it has been the past couple of years. That bodes well.
Central Valley - The Bears are big. But they didn't seem as quick at this time as they were last year. That's to be expected since all the skilled position starters graduated. But to a man coaches say there are good athletes to replace them and complement a veteran line. it's just a matter of putting them in the right places getting them repetitions and gaining experience. "The talent level is good," said coach Rick Giampietri. "We have kids wo can play, it's a matter of how quick they reach the next level. He pointed out, CV had an inexperienced line a year ago and that turned out all right.
University - there's a whole different mood in Titanville. With perhaps the third best skilled players in league (behind the Saxons and Mt. Spokane), athletes like QB Tony Tabish, Aaron Blaska, Brantly Thornton and John Wright are adapting to a new system and different approach by a coach with 28 years of college and Canadian professional experience. What struck was the faster pace of practice with no minute wasted. "It's completely different," said Tabish. "Just the tempo pf practice is a lot quicker it seems. Diedrick is committed to two platoon, multiple offense. He said the players have made great improvement and so far is pleased with the progress. Robert Bartlett, defensive coordinator for East Valley's top-eight 3A team is back with U-Hi, where he teaches.