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Gabe Marks made his presence in Pullman known from the first day of Washington State’s training camp. He’s also done it every day since then, too. Marks has earned praise from WSU coaches for his smooth, polished skills, showcasing talents rarely seen from a player months removed from high school.
Everything about Steve Sarkisian’s early days at Washington was loud and designed to attract attention to a program that had lost its way. Everything he did was made to feel bigger than it actually was. His introductory news conference in the Don James Center had the feel of an inauguration speech. The only thing that was missing was a Bible and a solemn oath to uphold the values of Enoch Bagshaw, Jim Owens and Don James.
Defending champs Colfax has won four straight league titles since joining the league, which is down to six teams after Kettle Falls switched classifications .
Top returners Here are the first team all-IEL 5A players back: Cole Zacha, quarterback, Lewiston; Jeremiah Hazard, offensive lineman, Coeur d’Alene; Matt James, OL, CdA; C.J. Miller, OL, Post Falls; Joey Pfennigs, QB, co-offensive newcomer of year, PF; Mitch Bevacqua, wide receiver, co-offensive newcomer of year, Lake City; Reece Mahaffy, defensive back, CdA. 4A: Corey Hansel, RB, Lakeland; Tommy Fury, WR, Sandpoint; Matt Horne, OL, Lakeland; Bo Olmstead, OL, Moscow; Tyler Finlay, defensive lineman, Lakeland; Kyle Snyder, DB, Moscow; Casey Thorne, DB, Lakeland; Troy Carr, defensive most valuable player, Lakeland.
It’s a quiet gesture of respect, and one reserved for more than just family. For his senior year at Idaho, linebacker Homer Mauga has changed his jersey number from 19 to 55 to honor his cousin Junior Seau.
Top returners Derek Smith, Sr., QB, Chewelah; Jake Morse, Sr, OT, Newport; Coleton Collins, Jr., WR, Lakeside; Charles Mitchell, Jr., C, Lakeside; Ben Johnstone, Sr., LB, Chewelah, Matt Trottier, Sr., LB, Lakeside.
Last year, the best offense for Mike Morgan and his Colfax Bulldogs was – literally – a good offense. This year, Morgan’s young offense will be a direct result of good defense. Just how good will soon be on display when the Northeast 2B football season opens Friday and the four-time defending league champions prepare to go after a fifth title.
Surprising Wellpinit reached the State 1B quarterfinals, their first state tournament football appearance in school history. With an experienced team returning, the target is on its back. But there is optimism in Cusick, a state qualifier three straight years, capped by a finals appearance in 2010.
Graduation hit the Colton Wildcats hard, but coach Clark Vining still has a Straughan around so pardon him if he feels like his offense is in pretty good hands.“That’s a rule, you have to have a Straughan at quarterback,” Vining said, laughing. Josh Straughan had a record-setting season a year ago, passing for 3,538 yards and 41 touchdowns as Colton captured the Southeast 1B championship before losing to Odessa-Harrington in the first round of the state playoffs.
A year ago, Almira/Coulee- Hartline and Odessa- Harrington finished among the state’s final four, with the Warriors reaching the State 1B finals. Not bad for a division that had four teams. That is changing. Mansfield has dropped out, but four teams have moved in.
Offensive improvement? Following an abysmal 2011 for the Vandals’ offense, Robb Akey hired three new assistants and promoted Jason Gesser to coordinator. In just his second season as a college coach, Gesser will guide an offense with a quarterback who hasn’t played a game since 2009 (Dominique Blackman), a revamped receiving corps and at least two first-year starters on the offensive line. It’s hard to know what to expect from so many newcomers, but the Vandals will showcase more four- and five-receiver sets and should at least be more entertaining.
Road, sweet road If you want to see the Pirates in person early on this season, you might want to stop by practice. Whitworth opens with three straight road games – St. Scholastica (Minn.), Whittier and La Verne (both Calif.). Whitworth’s home opener will be Sept. 22 against Chapman. The Pirates have four home games and six on the road.
Another season, another position switch for Lakeside senior Matt Trottier. As a sophomore, Trottier filled in on coach Brian Dunn’s offensive line, where his 6-foot-3 frame was needed. “Last year we had him playing tight end on offense and we used him as sort of a walk-off defensive end on defense,” Dunn explained. “Later in the year we moved him to an inside linebacker position and he did really well there. This year we’re putting him at strong side linebacker.”