NE 2B story lines: Lind-Ritzille-Sprague ready for encore
No one in the league is predicting a loss for Lind-Ritzille-Sprague any time soon. The Broncos were undefeated (13-0) and the state Class 2B champions a year ago. What’s more, the team is primed and reloaded for another run at the title.
Back is last year’s 2B State Player of the Year, quarterback/safety Dylan Hartz (6-1/175) and all-state WR/TE/DE Ryan Whitmore (6-7/200). Also back are all-league performers Connor O’Neill (WR/CB), Tyler Frederick (OL/DE), Jarradd Morley (OL/DT) and Cort Ruzicka (WR/LB).
“With so many players returning from our state championship team, we will likely be one of the favorites in our league and state, which will place a huge bull’s eye on our backs,” coach Greg Whitmore writes. “We will see if our kids have the same focus and hunger to take one game at a time. If we look past anyone in our league, or rest on our laurels, we could stumble at any time.”
New wrinkles for Colfax
Colfax returns last year’s top running back in Levi Hardy, who doubles as an all-league linebacker, and the Bulldogs feature an experienced front line to block. The team’s biggest challenges come on back-to-back weeks: Oct. 25th at Ritzville followed by a Nov. 1 home battle with Reardan. Coach Mike Morgan has added some new wrinkles to the Colfax offense that has opponents nervous.
Chargers start anew
Springdale’s new head coach is a familiar face for the rest of the league: former Liberty coach Rick Johnson, who has taken teams into the state playoffs four times during stops at Liberty, Morton and Inchelium. His fierce optimism is contagious, as are his expectations for success. His first Chargers squad has talent and experience, with five starters and 17 letter winners returing from year ago.
Good health equals success
The one key factor each coach points to for success this season is identical: health. At the 2B level, by definition, depth is a limited term and the lack-there-of is an everyday reality. Injuries to a single key player completely alters the post-season picture.
Until someone beats Lind-Ritzille-Sprague, the Broncos will remain the heavy favorites to repeat as league champions, if not state champions.
They have one of the best quarterbacks in the state in Hartz, and at the 2B level, a 6-7 tight end in Whitmore who can go up and catch the ball. He is a nearly unstoppable threat.
Still, the league as a while is solid and no one is willing to just pre-emptively crown LRS the champion.
Colfax is always a title contender and Reardan’s hard-nosed wishbone offense will make it a long night for any team that can’t stop it. Liberty and Davenport are both improved programs with head coaches entering their third season on the job, which generally indicates improved performance.
Springdale will be enthusiastic and Northwest Christian is a wild card. Yes, the Crusaders are inexperienced, but they do produce quality athletes who, if they can make the transition to the gridiron, should be able to make plays.