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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports >  High school sports

2017 GSL 3A preview: Mt. Spokane, Shadle Park have lofty ambitions

Mt. Spokane Wildcats offensive lineman Risone Ama will be a force at the line of scrimmage this season. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
Mt. Spokane Wildcats offensive lineman Risone Ama will be a force at the line of scrimmage this season. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

Ever since the 3A classification came into existence, Mt. Spokane has been at the top or near the top in Greater Spokane League football.

Expect more of the same this fall.

Could this be the year Mt. Spokane makes its deepest run in the state playoffs? There’s no reason why it can’t happen.

The top two teams advance to play for state playoff berths against Mid-Columbia Conference teams.

While Mt. Spokane will be at the head of the class, not far behind should be Shadle Park.

Mt. Spokane Wildcats

The Wildcats return 14 starters.

They may not have the proven weapons that eventual state champion Kamiakin had last year, but they have more than enough serviceable athletes.

Mt. Spokane’s chances begin up front with six returning offensive linemen who started at one point or another because of injuries last year. Leading the way is senior Risone Ama, a returning first team all-league pick last year.

“We have the biggest lines that we’ve ever had at Mt. Spokane,” coach Terry Cloer said.

That makes Mt. Spokane dangerous. The ability to run from all angles with its multi-faceted offense will make the Wildcats difficult to defend.

The depth Mt. Spokane features this season was born out of necessity a year ago. The Wildcats struggled through an injury-plagued season, and it’s prepared them for this fall.

“We’re resilient,” Cloer said.

And they’re tight knit.

“We’re closer this year,” Ama said.

Mt. Spokane has a difficult nonleague schedule that will make it battle tested come league play.

The Wildcats open with a trip to the Tacoma area to meet Peninsula, which advanced to the state quarterfinals last year.

“We need to come together off the field as much as on it,” Cloer said of the road trips. “It’ll pay off in November.”

They’ll follow that up with a trip to Sandpoint, which will be opening its new stadium.

Before beginning league, Mt. Spokane faces heavy 4A favorite Gonzaga Prep and faces off with Mead in the annual Battle for the Bell rivalry showdown.

“We have all the experience we need,” Cloer said. “If we can stay healthy, we have an opportunity to get into the state playoffs and make a run.”

Shadle Park Highlanders

The Highlanders return 14 starters.

Their two most productive skill players are senior running back Xavier Wicks and junior quarterback Carson Doyle. Wicks will most likely break the school career rushing record.

Both were first team all-league picks last fall.

Together they pose a nice 1-2 punch on offense. On defense, the Highlanders bring back their front six.

“We expect to challenge for the 3A title,” Shadle Park coach Jim Mace said.

Shadle Park has strengthened its schedule. The Highlanders have added nonleague crossover games with G-Prep and Mead. The benefit is being ready for a showdown with Mt. Spokane.

Mace said his team’s strength should be offense and in the defensive line.

The biggest challenge is retooling the secondary, Mace said.

North Central Indians

Whether the Indians can challenge for a postseason berth depends on if they have enough offensive weapons and can stop the offenses of Mt. Spokane and Shadle.

One thing is for sure – coach Tom Griggs appreciates the commitment of his players, and it started in the weight room.

He hopes the improved strength pays off on the offensive line where NC returns four starters.

“Being an offensive lineman myself, I like to run the football,” Griggs said.

Rogers Pirates

The Pirates had a drop off last year after making the state playoffs for the first time the year before.

Coach Ben Cochran must fill many spots lost to graduation. He likes what he’s seen so far.

The offense will feature a pair of talented skill players – receiver Daunte DeMarce and running back Tre Phillips, both juniors.

Senior Andrew Radford, a first team all-league pick last year at linebacker, will anchor the defense and start on the offensive line.

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