Is one player better than a team?
That’s the question facing Greater Spokane League 3A teams this year.
For the first time in the league’s history, a 3A champion will be decided.
Shadle Park must be considered the favorite based on the one player – senior quarterback Brett Rypien, who has re-written the passing records the last two seasons and will continue to add to those marks this fall.
The team given the best chance to challenge Shadle Park is Mt. Spokane. The four 3A coaches are split on which team will capture the league title.
So the league title will come down to the aforementioned question – is one player better than a team?
The top two teams advance to play-in games with the Mid-Columbia Conference.
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Some would argue that Rypien won’t have as productive a season as his last two because most of his receivers graduated.
Some would argue that Rypien won’t have as productive a season because the Highlanders will have an inexperienced offense line.
Rypien is plenty confident in the receivers he’ll work with this season and it may not matter if the offensive line is as good as it was a year ago. Rypien has the quickest release of any quarterback in the Northwest, and the fact that he’ll be in the shotgun formation should afford him more than enough time to find open receivers.
Shadle must fill some big holes on defense.
The Highlanders had one of the most improved defenses in the league a year ago, but graduation has depleted it. That’s where Shadle faces the biggest rebuilding job.
The Highlanders will feature one of the best defensive linemen in the league in senior Zach Price. But he’ll need much help.
‘Cats ready to pounce
There’s been a change at the top at Mt. Spokane, but the expectations remain the same.
Gone is longtime coach Mike McLaughlin. In is Terry Cloer, who expects to continue Mt. Spokane’s tradition of challenging for a play-in berth.
Ultra-talented quarterback Stu Stiles graduated but the Wildcats return experience on the offensive line and plenty of other skill players.
Mt. Spokane will feature senior slotback Roy Hyatt. Senior quarterback Matt Pulliam started two games last year before Stiles returned from suspension.
Where the Wildcats could be especially strong is on defense, especially at linebacker. First-team all-league pick Jacob Yedica returns.
“This group of seniors knows how to win,” Cloer said. “They were undefeated as freshmen, had one loss as sophomores and two losses in the regular season last year.”
If Shadle’s 11-2 season a year ago did anything, it was spread confidence throughout its program.
The Highlanders stepping up to fill holes left by graduation are poised to continue what was started last year.
“We should be competitive in every game and be in great position for a playoff run as the season unfolds,” first-year coach Jim Mace said.
• North Central expects to battle Shadle and Mt. Spokane.
“We have a few guys that can really run on offense with Jamaal Edwards and Isaac Wicks,” NC coach Brian Gardner said. “Combine that with an offensive line that has a lot of game experience and we are hoping to move the ball and put some points on the board. We won’t be the biggest team on the field but we will match toughness and I’ll take toughness any day.”
• Rogers begins a new era under coach Ben Cochran. The Pirates have perhaps the fastest player in the league in junior receiver Khalil Winfrey.
“We have few seniors but our junior class and upcoming classes look great,” Cochran said. “I feel all around we have some momentum.”
|1. Mt. Spokane|
|2. Shadle Park|
|3. North Central|
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