Northwest Christian has had a simple recipe for success in past seasons: hand the ball to running back Silas Perreiah and watch him run. The senior running back has been the focal point of the Crusader offense each of his three seasons – and no doubt will be again this year.
“His game speaks for itself with his rushing yards and his touchdowns – he is a workhorse,” first-year head coach Brian Gardner said.
That won’t change this year, even with a revamped offense scheme.
“We kind of changed up this year offensive-wise, but it has been a pretty smooth transition,” Gardner said. “We have all these junior and senior returns and the communication piece has been huge.”
Perreiah will be running behind a strong offensive line which retained four of five starters. The fullback is also unchanged meaning Perreiah is in line for another big season.
“I would put [Perreiah’s] work ethic up against anybody,” Gardner said. “He grinds, he works hard in practice everyday and doesn’t let off. He is a football junkie. He wants to learn everything he can to be a better player on the field. He has it all.”
The senior is being scouted by several college teams, most notably by Washington State, Eastern Washington and Idaho.
“He doesn’t have anything in stone yet. I think coaches want to see how he is going to do his senior year,” Gardner said. “He is a big, strong kid who runs hard and will run by you or through you.”
“He doesn’t have anything set yet, but whoever does is going to have a gem, that is for sure.”
The Crusaders will have a new quarterback under center this year after Brett MacKenzie graduated. Senior Jake Gray, the point guard for the NWC basketball team, tried out for football for the first time in high school and earned the starting job.
“He has been looking real good. Hard worker, smart,” Gardner said. “We’re really excited about him.”
Senior Reed Loranger is a 6-foot-2 wide receiver, another basketball player who also is new this year after trying out for the first time.
Even though both players are new to the sport, senior leadership can’t be taken for granted however you can get it.
“I don’t think I have ever had this much senior leadership on a team before,” Gardner, said. “It just makes everything run so much smoother.”
Gardner spent the last three seasons as the defensive coordinator for the Crusaders, but before that he was the head coach at North Central for six years.
Northeast 2B North
Chewelah (2-7 in 1A): The Cougars drop down this season, changing the dynamics in both leagues. First-year coach Cameron Gump has his work cut out for him. “Dropping down to a new league this year has created a lot of buzz around the whole community,” Gump said. “A new coaching staff – along with a new offense – has created a lot of excitement that has been lacking in previous years.” Gump expects his team to be faster and boast some strong underclassmen. He’ll get senior leadership from Slot/LB Kaden Mackowiak and WR/C John Larson, along with linemen Wade Baker and Robbie Hopkins. Sophomore transfer Slot/LB Bowen Middlesworth could make an immediate impact on both sides of the ball.
Wilbur-Creston (4-6): The Wildcats have good size, strength, athleticism and experience up front and could boast their best offensive line since moving up to 11-man football in 2014. All five starters return, plus Cole Rosman comes back from missing last season due to injury. “This is the third year in the system for the kids,” said seventh-year coach Darin Reppe. “A lot of teaching and learning took place last year and now the kids know what is expected out of them.” Senior leadership will come from QB/LB Ethen Tesch, RB/DL Aaron McDowell and WR/LB Jake Mattox.
Northeast 2B South
Colfax (6-4): Coach Mike Morgan returns for his 21st season at the helm. He returns four starters and 15 lettermen, including both-ways all-league lineman Augie Allenbach. The Bulldogs should be strong up front and at receiver, with seniors Gabe Ahmann and Dakota Hall on the outside. Who will be doing the throwing will be a work in progress, with junior Gunnar Aune and sophomore Layne Gingerich battling for playing time. “We have a tough non-league schedule which will hopefully prepare us for an even tougher league schedule,” Morgan said.
Liberty (13-1): The Lancers settled for second in state for the second year in a row. Will this be the year they break through? Coach Mike Dewey, back for his seventh season with Liberty, lost seven starters – including all-state RB James Heer and OT Beau St. John, and three other first team all-league players. Back is all-league lineman Jon Denny, who goes 6-foot-7, 305 and has been offered at Idaho. “We have a few guys back, but we will be young in some spots,” Dewey said, including at QB where talented but untested junior Jake Carr takes over for all-league Alec Fletcher.
Lind-Ritzville/Sprague (4-6): The Broncos have 13 lettermen and 11 starters returning, with many of the upperclassmen as multiyear starters having played as freshmen and sophomores. Coach Greg Whitmore, in his 13th season, will lean on QB Bryce Kelly and RBs Austin Thompson and Spencer Gering, with linemen Morgan Brausen, Spencer Miller and Garrett Frederick opening the holes.
Reardan (4-6): All-league RB/LB Tyler Sprecher is one of the most talented players in the league and will lead 14-year coach Eric Nikkola’s squad. The Indians return 15 lettermen and six starters, including linemen Ozius Harde, Colton Cotter and JW Merriott. “The strength of our team will be our defense,” Nikkola said. “We have an experienced group of linebackers and defensive lineman. If we can keep our running backs healthy, we will be competitive.”
Subscribe to The Spokesman-Review’s sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.