It starts and ends with Pilchuck. They’ve got some pretty talented players coming back. They’ll be the heavy favorites. After that it’s pretty competitive battle among the rest of the teams.
— Jay Turner, Oak Harbor coach
Laurence Wanambisi, Stanwood, WR
Used to playing soccer in his native Kenya, Wanambisi was a bit confused the first time he stepped foot on a football field.
“I don’t think he even knew what sport we were playing,” said Stanwood quarterback Drew Wright, who considers Wanambisi a step brother after Wright’s family took Wanambisi in to live with them.
Since that first practice, though, Wanambisi has become a force on the field. Standing 6-foot-3 with big hands and a long gait, Wanambisi has the physical tools to be a big-time wideout. Now he’s matching a football IQ with it that could make him dangerous on Friday nights.
“He’s got a lot of learning still but you look at a guy in terms of athleticism, he’s got a big body that can go do some things,” said Stanwood first-year head coach. “Matchup-wise he’s big, he can run, he can catch. He’s physical and he’s strong in the weight room. He’s got a chance to be special if he can continue the learning curve.”
Over the summer Wanambisi, who missed most of last season with a hip injury, turned some heads at a few 7-on-7 passing camps the Spartans attended. Wanambisi was so good in the passing camp at Evergreen State College that he won player of the camp over players from teams like Bothell and Eastlake.
Now that he understands the sport he’s playing better, Wanambisi is primed for a breakout senior campaign.
Collin Montez, Marysville Getchell, athlete
The incoming freshman has a ton talent and strong bloodlines: His uncle played in the NFL and his dad played Division-I football. Getchell coach Davis Lura said Montez will use him as a runner, lineman or wherever. “He’s going to be special. You’ll be talking about him over the next few years,” Lura said.
Austin Schimke, Marysville Pilchuck, OL
Schimke hurt his knee in the third game of last season, but is primed to reclaim his starting spot and be a big contributor on the Tomahawks’ offensive line this year. “He’s a strong kid who works his butt off in the weight room. We expect big things out of him,” said Marysville Pilchuck head coach Brandon Carson.
Paul Larson, Everett, CB/SE
The senior missed last season due to eligibility issues but will be counted on to take over the split end spot vacated by new QB Bryce Jamieson. “He’s one of a few kids who didn’t play last year and are being thrown into an opportunity,” said Seagulls head coach Will Soren.
Dave Telford, Stanwood head coach
Dave Telford, who graduated from Stanwood in 1984, took over as the Spartans head coach in June and is now guiding a ship that his dad, Phil, did for nearly 15 years spanning three decades starting in the late 1970s.
After spending two seasons as the quarterbacks coach at Indiana State, Telford wanted to return to the Northwest to be nothing more than an assistant coach. But being a high school head coach again — Telford was a head coach at Monroe between 2008-10 — was never the plan.
Then the Stanwood job opened up. After only one season Doug Trainor abruptly resigned because of a failure to get a full-time position in the district. It would mean Stanwood would be moving on to its third coach in three years.
So Telford stepped up.
“Circumstances all being the same, if it wasn’t Stanwood High I’m not sure I’d be doing this,” Telford said. “If it wasn’t my alma mater I’m not sure I’d be doing this.”
Taking over a team that is now on its third coach in three years, Telford has made it clear to the players that he’s not going anywhere soon.
“He’s made it clear that he’s here for the long run,” said senior quarterback Drew Wright. “I’m excited for the kids coming up that get to play for him because he’s a really great coach and great guy.”
After averaging just 11 points per game and being shut out twice last season, Everett has made some changes to its offense. Not only are many of the skill positions manned by different players, but the Seagulls will spread it out more this season and trot out some different looks for opponents.
“We’ve got a new system: new terminology, some new sets, new positions,” said Seagulls head coach Will Soren. “We really wanted to set a new tone for our direction so we worked hard this offseason.”
Saying goodbye at Getchell
This fall is the first time members of the Chargers football team looked around practice and had a number of players missing.
Having started as a program just two years ago, Getchell graduated its first class of seniors who contributed significant playing time last year.
Going 5-5 in the program’s second season, those seniors left a strong legacy. That is now being seen in excitement around the program, which has more than 40 freshman out this year.
Oak Harbor skills guys
Out is Ian Kolste at quarterback, JoJo Webster at wideout and Fred Webster at running back. Now Oak Harbor finds itself trying to replace those guys and more with a bunch of inexperienced players.
Clayton Doughty and Michael Lanningham are vying for the starting QB spot and after Sheyenne Sams, who saw significant carries last season, Dejon Devroe and Julian Faralan line up in the backfield. Sophomore Dylan Harris will be the main pass catcher.
“There’s definitely some new faces there,” OH coach Jay Turner said.
GAMES TO WATCH
Lake Stevens vs. Pilchuck
Quil Ceda Stadium, Marysville
Friday, Sept. 13, 7 p.m.
The Tomahawks try to avenge last season’s loss to the Vikings.
Arlington vs. Stanwood
Bob Larsen Stadium, Stanwood
Friday, Sept. 20, 7 p.m.
The Spartans have lost to Arlington 119-0 in the past two Stilly Cups.
Everett vs. Cascade
Everett Memorial Stadium
Friday, Sept. 20, 8 p.m.
The pride of Everett is on the line in the annual Battle for Broadway.
Pilchuck vs. Getchell
Quil Ceda Stadium, Marysville
Friday, Oct. 4, 7 p.m.
The Chargers look for a better showing in the second annual Berry Bowl.
Oak Harbor vs. Pilchuck
Quil Ceda Stadium, Marysville
Friday, Oct. 25, 7 p.m.
Last year this game was for the league title. Don’t be surprised if it happens again.
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