Last season, the big question for the Lind-Ritzville/Sprague Broncos was whether they could repeat as State 2B football champions.
This season, the two-time defending state champs must concern themselves with advancing out of the league.
The expanded Northeast 2B League should provide any state contender with enough challenges to prepare for a postseason run. The league grew to 10 teams with the addition of Wilbur-Creston, Kettle Falls and new cooperative Tekoa-Rosalia, resulting in a schedule without nonleague games.
The Broncos won the league title last season with a 6-0 mark and capped a 13-0 season with a 7-0 victory over Morton-White Pass in the title game.
Reardan (8-3, 5-1), which advanced to last year’s state quarterfinals after opening with a win over Oroville, figures to duke it out with LRS and Colfax for this year’s league crown. Colfax finished 6-5, 4-2 and lost to LRS in the quarterfinals after opening with a victory over White Swan.
“On any given night, Colfax, Ritzville and Reardan are capable of beating each other,” Reardan coach Eric Nikkola said. “Depth and turnovers will be the key to these games. Many people think that LRS graduated a lot of talent. That may be true, but I think they built a lot of young talent over the past two years.”
“This will be somewhat of a building year as we return only three starters from both sides of the ball, but I fully expect us to compete well in our league and be in every game,” LRS coach Greg Whitmore said. “Many of these kids are ready to be ‘the guy’ at their position after waiting behind older kids the past two years.”
“(We) lost four seniors and played a lot of young kids last year that are a year better in size and experience,” said Colfax coach Mike Morgan, who returns 12 starters.
Wildcats ready for 11
Wilbur-Creston should make an immediate splash in the league after winning the 8-man Northeast 1B South last season and advancing to the state quarterfinals.
The Wildcats are loaded with returning first- team all-leaguers, including senior quarterback Trystan Rosman, who was named Most Valuable Player after throwing for 2,308 yards and 40 touchdowns. The others are senior Alex Putman, running back/defensive lineman; senior Garet Townsend, offensive lineman/DL; junior Takota Epperson, OL; senior Nick Andersen, linebacker; and junior Dorian Jaeger, LB.
“Very little will change for us offensively, even with the move to 11-man,” Wildcats coach Darin Reppe said. “We’ve actually taken more out of the playbook than we’ve added.”
“If they are able to make the transition to 11-man football, they are going to make some noise,” Reardan’s Nikkola said. “Teams should not overlook them.”
New kid on block
The Tekoa-Oakesdale cooperative has been dissolved and replaced by Tekoa-Rosalia. The team, nicknamed the Timberwolves, is coached by veteran Bob Bucsko, whose past stops include Highland (1982-85), Blaine (1986-88), Zillah (1989-90), Okanogan (1992-94) and Lyle-Klickitat-Wishram (1995-97).
League coaches listed several impact players from rival teams, but those who received multiple nods were Northwest Christian junior QB David Olds, Davenport senior RB/LB Tom Wilkie, LRS senior strong safety/wide receiver Cort Ruzicka and LRS junior QB/DB Jacob Saetre, who played WR last season. Wilkie was named first-team all-league at both positions last season. Ruzicka has changed positions, but was a first-team LB and punter, and second-team RB last season.
|1. Reardan||6. Kettle Falls|
|2. Colfax||7. Liberty|
|3. LRS||8. NW Christian|
|4. Wilbur-Creston||9. Tekoa-Rosalia|
|5. Davenport||10. Springdale|
A brave girl jumps from the rocks on the west side of Tubbs Hill as her two friends watch. (Don Sausser/Facebook photo)
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