Players to watch
Under first-year Meadowdale head coach Mike Don, just three players are expected to play on both sides of the football.
One of those players is senior JoJo Alkedairy, a returning first-team all-league defensive lineman, who will also play offensive lineman in 2013.
Alkedairy saw limited time at fullback last season under former head coach Mark Stewart, but will be a full-time contributor on offense for the first time.
The adjustment doesn't seem to worry Don.
"As a high-school lineman right now, I would line him up against any defensive and offensive lineman in the state and I would feel very comfortable with him going one-on-one and winning that battle the majority of the time," Don said.
"JoJo has the desire to be great. He really, really wants to work at it. He works really hard at what he does. He really puts a lot of time in the weight room. He put up a lot of numbers in the weight room that I haven't seen high-school kids put up. It's pretty impressive," Don added.
Strength is one of Alkedairy's biggest assets, along with his pure athleticism.
"He's got good feet and he's just ridiculously strong," Don said. "When he gets latched on I don't really see too many guys moving him or not getting moved.
"You can't coach somebody to be that strong and athletic."
In the weight room, Alkedairy has squatted up to 585 pounds and benched 435 – quite a difference from where he was three years ago.
"Freshman year I just came in fat," Alkedairy said. "Five-foot-10, 240 (pounds), not a lot of muscle. I could only bench 170, I didn't even know what a squat-rack was."
As a senior, Alkedairy is expected to be one of the premier defensive lineman in the state. He has the same expectation of himself on the offensive side of the ball.
His experience and success on defense should only help his cause.
"I will think as a D-lineman when I'm playing offense," Alkedairy said. "I just read and react just like defense."
Alkedairy was forced to play a complete game on both sides of the ball once in 2012 due to injury to a teammate. He found fatigue wasn't an issue.
"You would think you would get a lot more tired, but the adrenaline is going so much more," Alkedairy said. "It's honestly easier. When you are on defense you get mad at the offense and when you are on offense you get mad at the defense. Now it's just like, 'let's both pick it up.'"
Alkedairy had what most would consider to be a great season a year ago, but he says it's only the beginning.
"Some people thought last year was a breakout year, but that was like middle of the road," he said. "There's things I could have done a lot better, I think. All the accolades, all those things are nice, but for me personally, doing everything I can like not stopping on plays and doing the little things -- I think I can really improve on those and help the team out."
And if Alkedairy has his way, the season will end at the state championships in Tacoma.
"I think we should be right up there with the Bellevue's and the Eastside Catholic's of the state," he said. "I think we can contend. I expect the most out of this team. If we don't get to Tacoma, it's not a good season."
Other players to watch
Jevin Pahinui, Mountlake Terrace, OL/DL
The senior is the Hawks only returning first-team all-league selection from a year ago, doing so at both offensive and defensive line. With Downs out, he will be looked upon to anchor the team's defensive unit and to blow open holes for new running backs Chance Ragsdale and Ryan Lacasse.
Nick Hensley, Glacier Peak, OL/DL
The first-team All-Wesco 3A offensive lineman is once again helping to shape the identity of a tough Glacier Peak team along both sides of the line. "He's a tenacious guy. He gets after it all. You've got to kind of hold him back sometimes in practice," said GP head coach Rory Rosenbach.
Aaron Kelly, Shorecrest, WR/S
Last year the Scots senior battled hamstring issues but he's fully healthy this year and ready to team up with returning starting quarterback Nick Hendricks. The state hurdler is being scouted by colleges, including Eastern Washington, and at 6-foot-4 with good hands it's easy to see why.
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