After the dust settles next season when schools are allowed to reduce their attendance numbers for classification based upon free and reduced lunches, the Greater Spokane League 3A ranks could look drastically different.
For now, though, it’s the same four-team alignment – with a few caveats.
The league decided earlier this year to allow North Central and Rogers to play an adjusted GSL schedule – playing each other twice – and not make the two struggling schools play all the 4A teams in the league with the hopes of increasing competitive balance.
NC will only play Ferris out of the 4A ranks and face three 2A schools – which they quite possibly could aligned with next season if a GSL 4A/3A/2A league comes to fruition.
Meanwhile, Rogers will play 4A University and fill out its schedule against Cheney and a couple of smaller Idaho schools.
Defending 3A league champion Shadle Park and perennial powerhouse Mt. Spokane will play a traditional GSL schedule, with Shadle picking up a couple of 2A opponents in nonleague games.
In alphabetical order. Records listed are 2018 results.
Mt. Spokane (8-3), which lost a close game to Timberline in the first round of state last year, was surprised by Shadle Park in the de facto GSL 3A title game last season and wants nothing more than to reclaim that title.
“Our goal every year is to win all six of our league games,” fifth-year coach Terry Cloer said. “We want to win the three 4A games that we have and then we want to get ready for the playoffs playing those 3A games and get into playoffs playing the right way and playing well.”
Cloer has nine starters and 19 lettermen returning and will get a huge boost from senior slot Kannon Katzer, who comes back after injury and “will get the bulk of our touches both in the running and passing games,” Cloer said. Katzer ran for over 1,000 yards as a sophomore at Mead.
Junior QB Jeter Schuerman was forced into playing time last season after the Wildcats lost four older players at the position and he handled himself with distinction. He should be a leader with another year under his belt.
Cloer want to take advantage of Schuerman’s strong passing arm.
“I think last year, he kind of got thrown into the fire in the middle of season,” he said. “So we didn’t have a lot of stuff in particular for him to develop his strength, especially in the passing game.
“So we’re throwing the ball more, we have some some more stuff we’ve put in to help our guys to work to their strengths.”
Schuerman will get the benefit of three returning senior offensive linemen in guards Jaymon Funk and Tyler Dallas, and tackle Matt McNitt.
The strength of the defense will be its front seven, anchored by three seniors: Ryan Miller (6-foot-3, 330 pounds), DL Kegan Young (6-3, 225) and LB Josh Osso. All three were all-league selections last season.
“Injuries last year allowed a lot of young players to get experience,” Cloer said. “We will have very good depth at most positions this year.”
North Central (1-9) has a new coach – of sorts. Sean Garvey, who took over last season on an interim basis, was promoted to full time for this season.
With light numbers of participants for the program, though injuries and attrition the Indians had fewer than 20 varsity players suit up for the final game of last season. They were forced to bring up all the freshmen in the program and cancel the remaining games of their freshman squad.
Garvey has seen those numbers take a positive bounce this summer as he tries to rebuild a football culture at NC.
He’ll lean on his son, senior all-league RB/LB Kade Garvey, as the primary ball carrier in the offense. Garvey will look to run behind 300-pound junior Deonte Johnson up front.
On defense, two-time all-league safety senior Ian Hicks is the captain.
NC starts its season with three 2A nonconference games. It opens at West Valley – which blanked the Indians 49-0 at Albi last season – then travels to Pullman before coming back to Albi to host East Valley.
The Indians’ marquee game this season is a matchup against Sequoia (California) at Roos Field on Oct. 5.
Rogers (1-9) brings back 10 starters and 12 lettermen, a good sign for a school that has a tough time keeping the roster full.
Second-year coach David Chambless is encouraged by the turnout.
“We are a young team this year and are going to be asking a number of underclassmen to play significant roles on offense and defense,” he said.
Casey Jeske started at QB as a sophomore and earned 3A all-league honors. He’ll be protected by junior linemen Jordan Seales and Eddie Mendez and sophomore Stephen King.
Senior Kenneth Jordan, an all-league honorable mention last season, will be the primary back and the team’s most dangerous weapon on offense.
Rogers will open the season with Lakeland (Idaho 4A), Cheney and Timberlake (Idaho 3A) before meeting NC in the pair’s first matchup of the season. They will face off again on Nov. 1
Shadle Park (4-6) coach Jim Mace enters his sixth season with the Highlanders trying to build upon the success they had last season. Shadle upset Mt. Spokane 14-11 in the last game of the regular season to claim its first league title in 14 years, before getting handled by Kamiakin 55-13 in a 3A crossover game.
The Highlanders were hurt by graduation, losing four all-league performers, including 3A MVP QB Carson Doyle, but Mace has 26 lettermen and eight starters coming back, including six on defense.
“With so many guys returning, we expect to be very strong defensively,” Mace said.
“Offensively, we lost a four-year starting quarterback and a lot of talent at receiver. We expect to make some youth mistakes early, but I feel we have the talent to be more explosive this year.”
Junior Ryan Schmidt (6-4, 170), one of Doyle’s regular targets last year, inherits the quarterback spot. Speedy Xavier Atkins should be Schmidt’s favorite receiver.
Two senior all-league linemen – Lucas Fiechtner and Zach Krotzer – will be anchors. Senior all-league DB Shamus Kennedy will be a leader on defense.
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