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Published: Thursday, September 5, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Cascade Conference


Team-by-team capsules

ARCHBISHOP MURPHY WILDCATS
Last season: 4-2 in league (third); 8-3 overall (lost to Tumwater in the state quarterfinals)
Head coach: Jerry Jensen, first year
Herald's power ranking: N/R
Key returners: Foster Wade, OL/DL.
Schedule
Outlook
With just eight seniors and 12 juniors, Archbishop Murphy is a very, very young and inexperienced team. However, the Wildcats could be on the verge of another team that they can develop over a couple years into another dynasty.
The Wildcats are hardly the only team in the Cascade Conference to lose several key pieces from last year. The entire league is dealing with the graduation of star athletes, which should make the conference anybody's league to win.
It's hard to pick against Archbishop Murphy. Even in a year when the Wildcats lost an unprecedented two Cascade Conference games they were still able to make it to the 2A state quarterfinals.
It's probably best not to doubt the Archbishop Murphy football team.
CEDARCREST RED WOLVES
Last season: 0-6 in league (seventh); 1-9 overall
Head coach: Jason Frederick, 10th season
Herald's power ranking: N/R
Key returners: Jake Knoth, OL/DL; Colton Sandhofer, LB/OL; Colson Scott, FB/LB; Adam Golden, TE/LB; Adam Davenport, QB/S, Liam Thomas, RB/LB.
Schedule
Outlook
The Red Wolves return a lot of talent and there's a lot of excitement around this program despite the fact it didn't win a league game a year ago. Part of that excitement stems from ROOT Sports' decision to televise Cedarcrest's Oct. 10 game against King's. The other part is the fact Frederick is confident his more experienced team can surprise some opponents and contend in the Cascade Conference.
The 6-foot-5 Davenport returns at quarterback and gives the Red Wolves a big passer in the pocket. Cedarcrest will continue to run the ball first, though. The Red Wolves are led by fullback Scott and tailback Thomas, who both started last season, and have an offensive line anchored by returning starters Knoth, Sandhofer and Andy Miller.
COUPEVILLE WOLVES
Last season: 2-9 overall (lost to Meridian in tri-district playoffs)
Head coach: Tony Maggio, second season
Herald's power ranking: N/R
Key returners: Jake Tumblin, RB/DB; Nick Streubel, OL/DL; Brett Arnold, RB; Josh Bayne, RB; Wade Schaef, WR.
Schedule
Outlook
Coupeville has two blue chippers who could give other teams in the Cascade Conference fits this season in Tumblin and Streubel. Both could start for many Wesco teams and will be looking to help the Wolves contend this year.
The Wolves only graduated five seniors and the team has gained confidence in their second year in Maggio's system. "We're no longer the bottom-dwellers," Maggio said.
Coupeville rushed for more than 2,300 yards last season and all of those yards return, including Tumblin, Arnold and Bayne.
Like last year, Coupeville will play a nonleague schedule. But the Wolves are trying to get a game scheduled on Oct. 4 with Archbishop Murphy, which also has no game scheduled that date. That speaks to the confidence of these Wolves.
GRANITE FALLS TIGERS
Last season: 1-5 in league (sixth); 3-7 overall
Head coach: Tracey Bechtholdt, fourth season
Herald's power ranking: N/R
Key returners: Mathew Hamilton, RB/DB; Trae Popin, RB/DB/K; Tim Lindell, OL/DL; Drake Sanders, OL/DL; Michael Poyner, OL/DL; Tyson Campbell, CB/WR.
Schedule
Outlook
In his four years at Granite Falls Bechtholdt has never had the consistent attendance at camp he's had this year. The Tigers coach believes it's a sign the players have bought in.
"They've made a commitment and they're following that commitment," Bechtholdt said.
It'll be an uphill battle for Granite Falls, which lost eight starters on both sides of the ball. Ben Nelson, a big, physical junior, replaces Brandon Leitzke behind center. He'll be handing off plenty to Hamilton, who rushed for the third-most yards in the conference last season (921 yards).
"Everyone knows about him," Bechtholdt said.
Hamilton will be joined by running back Alex O'Neill and fullbacks Daniel Head and Popin in Granite Falls' triple option offense.
KING'S KNIGHTS
Last season: 6-0 in league (first); 11-1 overall (lost to Montesano in the state quarterfinals)
Head coach: Jim Shapiro, 17th season
Herald's power ranking: N/R
Key returners: Lucas Swanson, WR; Zach Jacobson, OL/DL; George Foster, DL; Chris Yand, RB.
Schedule
Outlook
King's will learn a lot about itself right off the bat. The Knights play Lynden, which has won the past two 2A state championships, in the Emerald City Kickoff Classic at newly-renovated Husky Stadium to open their season on Saturday, Sept. 7.
In a conference where several teams at the top lost a lot of players to graduation, King's should be in the mix for another conference title. The young players are going to have to step up, something that always seems to happen under Shapiro, and the Knights are going to have to take care of division foes Archbishop Murphy and Lakewood, but King's should get back to the 1A state playoffs and could finally get that quarterfinals monkey of its back.
LAKEWOOD COUGARS
Last season: 5-1 in league (second); 9-2 overall (lost to Capital in state first-round game)
Head coach: Dan Teeter, eighth season
Herald's power ranking: 15th
Key returners: Dylan Donohue, OL; Eric Murray, LB; Randy Anaya, K; Second team--Jeff Harrison, OL
Schedule
Outlook
Like much of the Cascade Conference this year, the Lakewood Cougars are a big unknown. Gone are the stars but what still remains is the system. It's a system that Teeter has been building in Lakewood since he got there.
"From their freshman year up they're learning our schemes so that when they get up there and playing on Friday nights we don't have to make it too vanilla," Teeter said, referring specifically to the offense. "Now we have to do a good job of calling the game to give them confidence and let them have success. And once they get some confidence then moving to some more elaborate things."
If the young Cougars can have success early watch out.
SOUTH WHIDBEY FALCONS
Last season: 2-4 in league (fifth); 4-6 overall
Head coach: Mark Hodson, 13th season
Herald's power ranking: N/R
Key returners: Nick French, QB/LB; Nick Bennett, WR/DB; Cooper Nichols, RB; Beck Davis, OL/ILB; Kale Reichersamer, WR.
Schedule
Outlook
The Falcons are poised to turn last year's late surge into a successful campaign this year. South Whidbey returns a number of players off of a team that won its last two games last season by a combined score of 89-29.
A pair of Nicks leads the way. French, a state javelin placer, will lead the offense and he'll be throwing to Bennett, a 6-foot-1, 185-pound physical receiver not afraid of contact. Bennett is one of three receivers returning from last year, including Reichersamer and Jordan Parrick.
South Whidbey will continue to run the ball first, with Nichols as the bell cow out of the backfield for the Falcons. He'll be finding holes behind linemen Beck Davis, Nate Hanson and Jose Chavez.
With a number of returning starters and some momentum, South Whidbey could make some noise.
SULTAN TURKS
Last season: 3-3 in league (fourth); 4-5 overall (lost to Lynden in tri-district playoffs)
Head coach: Ben Murphy, fourth season
Herald's power ranking: N/R
Key returners: Taylor Comfort, OL/LB; Antonio Rivas, QB/DB.
Schedule
Outlook
While King's, Archbishop Murphy and Lakewood are the favorites until somebody proves otherwise, if any team is going to do it this season it could be Sultan. Murphy is excited about his junior quarterback Deion Bonilla and the overall speed and athleticism of his team.
In the four years since Murphy has taken over as head coach of the Turks, they have increased their win total each season and he expects them to do it again in 2013.
The Turks open the season with North Mason, Mount Baker, Cedarcrest and Granite Falls. If they can come out of those four games unscathed, they face King's, Lakewood and Archbishop Murphy respectively in consecutive weeks -- a series of games that could make or break their season.

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