There were widespread changes to the alignment of the leagues that have traditionally been the home of the smallest schools in the region.
The Northeast 1B North remains intact, but the teams that have played in the south division of that league – state powerhouses Odessa and Almira/Coulee-Hartline – along with Wilbur-Creston, playing down one level – have joined the Central Washington 1B League for football.
The Southeast 1B also has new members among old faces, with central schools DeSales and Lyle/Wishram competing against traditional league members.
The five districts east of the Cascades send five 1B teams to the state playoffs this season. District 7 gets four of the 2B state berths.
In alphabetical order. Records listed are 2018 results.
Chewelah (8-4) won the Northeast 2B North title and fell to Napavine in the quarterfinals. second-year coach Cameron Gump has six returners on both sides of the ball, including senior all-league QB Jake Jeanneret and junior all-league RB Kaden Krouse.
Jeanneret passed for 2,160 yards with 21 touchdowns last season and Krouse recorded 135 tackles as a sophomore LB. He rushed for 700 yards with 10 TDs and added over 800 yards receiving with nine scores.
Gump moved from an option offense to a spread to get the most out of his team’s speed last year and the players really took to it.
Colfax (4-5) lost to Chewelah in a league crossover last season and returns an experienced backfield with QB Layne Gingerich and RB Jacob Brown, expected to do the heavy lifting for coach Mike Morgan in his 22nd year.
Colfax has three linemen returning to give the skill players room to operate. The Bulldogs return 10 starters and 15 lettermen. A newcomer to watch is junior lineman Carsten Miller (6-0, 260).
Morgan has guided Colfax to seven league championships, a state title in 2009 and a runner-up in 2010. The Bulldogs’ last playoff appearance was in 2013, though, and they’ll have to avoid injury – with just 29 players turning out – and catch a break in a highly-contested league to break.
“We play in one of the top leagues in the state,” Morgan said. “It’s like the SEC in college with the North and the South.”
Lind-Ritzville (3-6) returns 13 lettermen and seven starters on offense and defense, although the biggest departure may be second-team all-league QB Bryce Kelly. Junior QB Drew Kelly will try to fill his big brother’s shoes.
Coach Greg Whitmore, in his 14th season, has the benefit of experienced line play on both sides of the ball, with seniors Spencer Miller, Cole Cameron and Garrett Frederick taking on leadership roles. As with most small schools, lack of depth will be a concern as Whitmore cited small sophomore and seniors classes.
“To be competitive, we must stay healthy,” Whitmore said. “We also have to move the ball on offense and be more efficient than last year.”
Northwest Christian (9-3) went to the state quarterfinals last season but was devastated by graduation, so much so that second-year coach Brian Gardner hopes the start of school will get a few more players to turn out.
“If we can stay healthy, I believe we can compete,” Gardner said. “I am really excited with the players we do have and I’ve been very impressed with their work ethic.”
The Crusaders lost 12 lettermen, including seven all-league players and two all-state selections: RB Silas Perreiah and lineman Keaton Carolus Knutson.
Gardner will have to rely on returning all-leaguers OL/DL Zach Zwanzig and WR/DB Darius Carrozzo along with senior lineman Won Yu, until freshman QB Michael Bauman gets up to speed.
Reardan (8-3) lost to Toledo in the first round last season and coach Eric Nikkola, in his 15th season, hopes to add to that this season. He lost 10 all-league seniors but has five starters back on offense and defense.
Nikkola, last year’s league coach of the year, has been to the state playoffs in 10 of his 15 years at the helm.
Senior QB Zane Perleberg returns for his second season running the multioption wishbone and he will hand it to senior all-league RB Tyler Sprecher (6-3, 185) often – he rushed for over more than 1,000 yards in his junior campaign – while senior RB Noah Landt will be the speed option.
The Indians lost a pair of all-league lineman so they will have to lean on 245-pound center Josh Kieffer for leadership.
Almira/Coulee-Hartline (12-2) was second in state last season but was the second-best team in its league. Coach Brandon Walsh enters his 20th season and will look to replace nine starters, including all-state QB Mac Isaak and five other all-league players, including RB Hayden Loomis.
“We are coming off of back-to-back trips to the state title game so expectations are high,” Walsh said. “We graduated a pretty dynamic group of kids. We have our work cut out for us to replace that group but this group is hungry to prove themselves and step into their new roles.”
A couple of all-league defensive players – LB Brayton Schafer and DL Logan Braaten – will add running back to their résumés this season.
Sophomore Dane Isaak will get turns at quarterback and senior linemen Will Hahn and Carson O’Neil will help stabilize the line. The line averages 225-plus.
Colton (5-4) finished third in the Southeast 1B but will have a new look, as athletic director Jim Moehrle takes over at coach from Clark Vining.
The Wildcats graduated three all-league players and lost a fourth to transfer., including QB Parker Druffel, WR Luke Vining and TE Reece Chadwick.
“Our biggest challenge will be a steep learning curve as many players are learning new positions as well as trying to incorporate some newcomers and people returning from injury,” Moehrle said.
Seniors QB Chris Wolf and C/DL Jackson Meyer will be looked to for leadership. The offensive line has the most pieces returning with Meyer at center and Moehrle, a sophomore, at guard.
Columbia (2-7) has just 14 players in camp, so co-coaches Jesse Templeton and Jeremiah Zehetmir have their work cut out for them. Two seniors, QB/LB August Wagner and HB/LB Jared Haine, will have to be counted on. A pair of juniors, HB/CB Solomon Christian and WR/CB Trey Young, will also have to step up.
Transfer linemen Colton Hughes (Chewelah) and Michael Garland (Harrington) will help bolster the ranks,
“We should be strong on both lines,” Zehetmir said. “With a small group we’ll have to be healthy to compete.”
Cusick (3-7) has six starters returning for second-year coach Alex Laughery, including junior QB Dylan Reignonen and seniors RB/LB Nate Allen and WE/DE Trevor Shanholtzer.
“This year we have a solid skill position group that will help give us good looks out of the backfield,” Laughery said, adding that his line will be young and may take time to jell.
Northport (1-9) had a tough go of it last season, but brings back 10 lettermen and seven starters to build from this year. But the Mustangs aren’t deep – 12 players turned out for start of practice.
Fourth-year coach Kevin Dionas will lean on seven seniors who have played together since seventh grade, including all-league pick WR/DB Ty Williams, RB/LB Jahsom Rahif and lineman Scotty Fata, along with senior QB Tanner Malcolm.
“Staying healthy while building depth will be a key to success this season,” Dionas said.
Odessa (14-0) fifth-year coach Jeff Nelson has 16 lettermen and 13 starters back to defend the Tigers’ title. Chief among those returning is state 1B player of the year RB Marcus King, who ran for 1,539 yards and 29 touchdowns.
King rushed for over 100 yards in eight of the Tigers’ 14 games and hauled in 16 passes – 13 for scores. King had 215 yards and four TD in 19 carries in Odessa’s 63-12 state title win over ACH, its first state championship in 25 years.
Also returning are all-league QB Camden Weber, two-way all-league TE/DE Tim DeWulf and all-state lineman of the year Jaden Hunt.
The only place Odessa might not be strong at is guard, where they’ll have to replace a pair of starters.
“We have moved several running backs and tight ends into the guard position to create competition for those two spots,” Nelson said.
Selkirk (6-5) has a lot of talent returning for fourth-year coach Jeremy Link – first and foremost his son, Jay, a two-time All-Northeast 1B quarterback and all-state DB.
Jay Link led state 1B in passing yards and touchdowns (36) and rushed for over 1,000 yards with eight more TDs.
Also returning are all-league performers RB/LB Ty Taylor, WE/DE Zech Curran, and lineman Slade Powers.
“We’ll have great senior leadership and experience,” Link said. “We’ll need to stay healthy and not give up big plays.”
Wilbur-Creston (7-3, NE 2B) is playing 8-man football this year with just 19 players turning out – the Wildcats’ smallest crop in years. Eighth-year coach Darin Reppe has his hands full transitioning the program.
“Other than our current freshmen, who have played eight-man the past two years in junior high, our kids don’t have much 8-man experience, so there has been a learning curve,” he said.
All-league senior WR/DB Brayden Seylor will be a leader, with fellow seniors RB/LB Carter Locke, WR/LB Alex Ruzsa and TE/DE Evan DeBord.
Sophomore Peyton Michel will take the snaps for the Wildcats.
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