There's no team that you can overlook and there's no team like a Bellevue. There's always competition and it seems like any year a team could come out of left field and win it.
-- Adam Fermstad, Lynnwood coach
Josh Smith, Cascade QB
If you are a fan of the recent trend of athletic quarterbacks in the NFL, such as Colin Kaepernick, Robert Griffin III or Seattle's own Russell Wilson, then you might want to consider checking out a Cascade High School football game this season.
Senior Josh Smith, a transfer student from Chiefland, Fla., will be the starting quarterback for the Bruins in 2013.
The Bruins had high hopes going into the season without Smith -- they already were thinking league championship -- but those hopes are even higher now.
"He's incredibly talented," Cascade head coach Joe Cronin said. "I don't think he knows how talented he is."
Smith has the body, standing 6-foot-4 and weighing 205 pounds, and the athleticism to go with it. At Chiefland High School, where he played as a sophomore and junior, he could be found all over the field, playing quarterback, running back, wide receiver, linebacker, safety and punter.
His talents earned him an offer to play football at the University of South Alabama.
Smith has a highlight video on www.hudl.com that shows off his array of skills.
"Coaches thought it was a joke," Smith said. "They were like, 'Man, people don't send highlights like this' because I was punting, I was kicking and I was tackling. They got pretty excited over it."
Cronin recalls meeting Smith for the first time -- and he wasn't sure what to think.
"He showed up to my door in March," Cronin said. "I didn't know if he was a student or if he was an adult. He said, 'Coach, I'm enrolled here now at Cascade.' He didn't even say he was decent at football. He just said, 'I would like to participate in football.' I'm like, 'You're a student first of all, great. What do you play?' He said 'I can play anything on offense, whatever you want me to play.'"
Then Smith sent Cronin the highlight video.
"This kid is a pretty good player,'" Cronin recalls saying. "I e-mailed the other (Cascade) coaches and I said we got this kid named Josh Smith from Florida. It sounds like a joke. Josh Smith, a random name from Florida. Sure, is this real?"
If Smith looks anything like he did on his highlight video, it surely won't take him long to earn the respect of Bruins' opponents, something he already has from his teammates.
"It's nothing against Ryan (Lukas) our quarterback last year, but (Smith) brings a new dimension to the team," wide receiver KJ Brady said. "He can throw the deep ball a little bit more and he obviously can run a little bit more. So we kind of switched up the offense a little to fit our personnel. It's just another weapon for us really."
"He's going to bring a lot to the team," fullback Nate Elliot added. "He's a great leader and he just brings a certain spark that I think we definitely would have been missing this year."
What else is new?
Junior Alex Cheesman ("traditional pocket passer") and Woodinville-transfer Wesley Love ("super-athletic") are competing to be the next in a long line of successful Jackson quarterbacks.
"We're very fortunate," said Jackson head coach Joel Vincent. "We have a strong tradition here of great quarterbacks and it looks like we've got a couple more right now that are in the mix and in the running."
Edmonds-Woodway running back
Warriors running back Junior Opoku-Mensah found himself in a few more games than he may have thought last season due to injuries to E-W star Desmond Young. That experience should help Opoku-Mensah, now a senior and the main back for the Warriors.
"He's jumping right back in where he was last year," said Edmonds-Woodway head coach John Gradwohl. "… He's a year older and a year stronger. He had a good offseason."
Mariner's training program
After participating in a shortened version of it last year, the Mariner football team dove head first into a hardcore running program put on by Jordan James of Everett Sports Performance.
The Marauders hope the results show up on the field this fall.
Starting in June, 40-45 Mariner football players would join James at Goddard Stadium and run through a number of speed and agility drills for nearly two hours.
"The kids responded. Our kids came back a little faster and in outstanding condition," Mariner head coach John Ondriezek said.
Andrew Katzenberger, Lynnwood RB/LB
As a sophomore, Katzenberger showed promise as a wide receiver, catching six passes for 157 yards and a pair of touchdowns. But now Fermstad believes Katzenberger is where he belongs: in the backfield.
Katzenberger played running back when he was younger and he decided he wanted to make the change, Fermstad said.
Already a very strong linebacker, Katzenberger is 6-1, 210 and hits hard. Fermstad said his biggest upside is his football knowledge.
"Watching him hit holes, watching him make cuts you can tell it's almost second nature for him," Fermstad said. "As far as calling an offensive play you don't need to coach him up on the finer points that often. When he hits a hole he's going to know what cut to make."
Nick Smith, Mariner, QB
The senior signal-caller takes over for Dan Nadat, who led the Mariner offense last year. Smith may not have starting experience, but has been in the program four years and was a backup behind Nadat last year.
Tyler Becker, Kamiak, QB
The junior bested senior Nick Taglialavore for the starting spot and looks to add his name to a long list of great Kamiak passers.
Ryan Fee, Jackson, OL
Timberwolves coach Joel Vincent is confident this sophomore is mature and good enough to start on a veteran-laden offensive line.
Kejuan Coleman, Cascade, RB
Coleman played in the Bruins first couple of games in 2012, but suffered an injury that limited him for much of the season. This offseason the junior added another 25 pounds to his frame and is expected to be the Bruins opening day starter.
GAMES TO WATCH
E-W vs. Jackson
Everett Memorial Stadium
Friday, Sept. 27, 5 p.m.
This game has decided the league title three years running — may once again.
Kamiak vs. Jackson
Everett Memorial Stadium
Friday, Oct. 4, 8 p.m.
Jackson's second big game in a row as they face off against another South rival.
Cascade vs. E-W
Friday, Oct. 4, 5 p.m.
Both teams have a decent shot at being undefeated going into this game.
Mariner vs. Kamiak
Goddard Stadium, Everett
Friday, Oct. 18, 7 p.m.
This Mukilteo School District rivalry game could have playoff implications.
Cascade vs. Jackson
Everett Memorial Stadium
Friday, Oct. 18, 7 p.m.
This Everett School District rivalry is reborn after the Bruins' resurgence.
More High Schools Headlines
Prep boys soccer: Orcas Island 6, Grace Academy 1 Prep diving: Wesco Dive Qualifier Prep boys tennis: 2A District Tournament Arlington beats Marysville Pilchuck to clinch at least share of 3A North Lake Stevens scores early, often in 42-7 rout of Mariner Snohomish tops Kamiak 48-28 Prep football: Edmonds-Woodway 41, Shorewood 0 Prep football: Darrington 38, Tekoa-Rosalia 36
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