Here are the returning first team selections: Davian Barlow, running back, Mead; Luke Rogers, RB, Rogers; Dane Crater, offensive lineman, Mead; Nathan Hundeby, tight end, University; Brennan Schon, wide receiver, Lewis and Clark; Austin Rehkow, placekicker, Central Valley; Jake Hoffman, all-purpose player, North Central; Langston Ward, defensive lineman, Mead; Danny Mattingly, co-defensive player of year, Mead.
Three players are close to breaking into the top 10 record list. Schon needs 13 catches to take over No. 10 in career receptions and needs two years to move into 10th in career receiving yards. Rogers needs 546 yards to take over No. 10 in career rushing yards. Hoffman, a run-pass threat as a quarterback, needs 1,043 yards to move into 10th in career total offense. All three have been three-year starters.
Although anything can happen in high school football, Mead is considered close to untouchable. But the big mystery is how things will shake out second through 10th.
The league will get an early indication the first week. There’s a key 3A matchup tonight featuring Shadle Park and Rogers. Kickoff at Joe Albi Stadium is at 6:15. It’s pivotal that both teams get off to a good start if they hope to climb out of the bottom of the division.
In big matchups Friday at Albi, NC goes against Mt. Spokane at 5:30 and Gonzaga Prep takes on LC at 8.
On Saturday, in a quadruple header at Eastern Washington University’s Roos Field, Central Valley and Ferris square off at 7.
Three 1,000-yard rushers return in Barlow, Rogers and senior G-Prep QB Zach Bonneau. Those three should have solid seasons and look for others to threaten 1,000 yards – particularly Griffen Hare of G-Prep, Garrett Sykes of CV, Stu Stiles of Mt. Spokane and Anthony Hampton of Rogers.
Most teams will be breaking in new quarterbacks. The three returners are Bonneau, Hoffman and Shadle Park sophomore Brett Rypien.
Easily the best receiver back is Schon, a senior. He led the league with 49 catches and 1,001 yards. Hundeby was second with 40 receptions.
What they’re saying
You’ll need a roster to follow Ferris this fall. The Saxons are fielding their youngest team ever under seventh-year coach Jim Sharkey. “We started 19 seniors last year and some were two-way guys,” Sharkey said. “We lost our front seven on defense. But I’m encouraged with our young kids.” … LC is structured in what it does. Ask coach Dave Hughes about the offense and he qualifies what he says with ‘that’s just what we do’. Ask him a question about defensive philosophy and he adds the same phrase to the end of his comment. Coaches across the league expect good things from LC, which will feature possibly the best receiving corp. … “We won’t frighten people getting off the bus,” G-Prep coach Dave McKenna said of his team’s size. “But hopefully we’ll play well as a team.” … Mead coach Sean Carty will probably play two guys at QB early before settling on a full-time starter. Senior Gunnar Kayser, who has the rare combination of speed and power, and Matt Wetzel, junior and the younger brother of departed three-year starter Andy Wetzel, have been dueling in preseason practices. “To some degree we’ll have a two-quarterback system,” Carty said. … CV coach Rick Giampietri believes three and possibly four 4A teams could finish deadlocked for second, constituting a playoff to decide a play-in berth. “Mead’s got the upper hand on everybody, but the other four 4A schools could be in a dogfight for second,” he said.
Road to the playoffs
The top two 4A teams and top two 3A teams qualify for play-in games against the Mid-Columbia Conference, the new league among the Tri-Cities schools and Walla Walla. The old Big Nine features the most northern schools, mostly 4A. It has one 4A playoff berth. The GSL and MCC will have crossover games for the other non-postseason teams.
Predicted order of finish
1. Mead, 2. Lewis and Clark, 3. Ferris, 4. Gonzaga Prep, 5. Central Valley, 6. Mt. Spokane, 7. Shadle Park, 8. Rogers, 9. University, 10. North Central