By Aaron Lommers, Aaron Swaney, David Krueger, Herald Writers
Everything at Glacier Peak
When we last saw the Glacier Peak football team, Chris Becerra was behind center, handing off to Michael Palmer and throwing the ball downfield to Sean Elledge. All three earned first-team All-Wesco 3A South honors, and that’s not the only similarity they all shared.
All three players graduated after last season, leaving many holes for the Grizzlies as they prepare to start the 2013 season.
“It’s high school football. Most of the time everybody has (lots of kids graduate),” said Glacier Peak head coach Rory Rosenbach. “We’ve got a lot of new faces. Especially on offense. We’ve got a couple guys back on the line and one of the receivers is back.”
According to Rosenbach, the exceptionally-high turnover means “there’s all kinds of battles going on” for various positions.
Austin Hines returns at receiver, and Trey Chambers, who was an honorable mention all-league defensive back in 2012, has switched to receiver to take Elledge’s spot. Leon Elliott, a backup quarterback last season, appears to be winning the slot receiver position battle in early-season workouts and practices.
The big question for Glacier Peak remains the quarterback position where three Grizzlies are vying for the starting job: senior Branson Corwin, junior Brady Southard and sophomore Andrew McCoy.
Rosenbach isn’t sure which of the three would be the best fit for his spread offense yet.
“One guy is smaller and a great runner. The other guy’s more of a pure pocket passer,” Rosenbach said. “McCoy, the young kid, is kind of a mix of both. He’s kind of a nice blend of all of them but he’s the youngest one.
“?I’d feel comfortable going into a game with any of them. I’m just waiting for one of them to really grasp it and really become the leader of the team and have that personality that really takes over and makes it his.”
Mike Don, Meadowdale head coach
The former head coach at Lynnwood High School will give the Mavericks offense a different look on offense than the one that former head coach Mark Stewart implemented for his 13 seasons. Don won’t go as far to call it a spread offense, but they will throw the ball significantly more than they have in the past.
“It is a different challenge,” Don said. “Going into a school that perennially isn’t good, it’s a little easier to get kids to believe in doing something new. Whereas, here, you come in and you’re not trying to change everything, you are just trying to make small adjustments that fit your personality and what you believe in.”
Don got used to success in high school, playing for the always-dangerous Prosser Mustangs and is taking over a program that is accustomed to success under Stewart, a recipe that Don hopes leads to continued success.
“I’m sure most people would think it’s pressure (following Stewart), but I really don’t (feel the pressure),” Don said. “I grew up in programs that were really successful so I’ve just kind of always expected to be successful and win.”
Filling in for Downs
Helping to replace running back and linebacker Devante Downs, who will miss his senior season with a torn ACL, will be juniors Ryan Lacasse and Austin Bates. Along with returning 3A South honorable mention running back Chance Ragsdale, Lacasse will help carry the load at the running back position and Bates will take Downs’ spot at linebacker.
The Hawks predominantly run a three-running back set, so depth at the position is a must. Ragsdale will likely get the bulk of the carries and Lacasse will step into the role that Ragsdale had alongside Downs last season. The third running back spot is still in question, but will likely go to senior Eni Klosi.
“Ryan is a football gym rat,” Mountlake Terrace head coach Tony Umayum said. “He is the type of kid who would play football every day of the year if he could. He’s a very tough kid. He’s physical and runs physically and he’s a real fundamentally sound player. Because he has played a lot of football in his earlier days, he is also a very intuitive player.”
As good as Downs was at running back, he was just as good as a linebacker, making Bates’ role key to the team’s success.
“Austin is a nice athlete,” Umayum said of Bates, who will also play tight end. “He’s one of those guys who has good size and can run and hit. He was the best defensive player on our JV last year and he’s had a good offseason in the weight room, so we’re expecting him to really be a presence this year.
Justin Hopkins, Mountlake Terrace, QB
Hopkins played quarterback at the freshman and JV levels the past couple of seasons and steps into the starting varsity role in 2013 after Beau Kennedy graduate last June.
“He’s different then all the quarterbacks I’ve had since I’ve been here,” Umayum said. “He’s more of the, at least size wise and his strengths, classic quarterback. We’ve had that 5-8 to 5-10 scrappy kid that makes plays and can really run and throw. Justin can run, but he’s the first one that has come through in the past nine years that is 6-2 and your classic quarterback.”
Hopkins is working on his footwork and getting quicker running the paths that the quarterback makes in the Hawks offense to be able to run the Pistol Wing-T offense they run.
If all goes as planned, Hopkins will likely be the Hawks starting quarterback for the next two seasons and Umayum is looking for him to own the position.
“(I expect) him to really start to own the offense and develop into the leader in the huddle to where he can make corrections on the field when there isn’t enough time for a coach to do so.”
The biggest question mark of the Terrace’s passing game is at the receiver position, where the Hawks don’t return a single player that caught a pass last season.
Leon Elliott, Glacier Peak, WR
With plenty of options at quarterback, the Grizzlies moved Elliott, a backup for Becerra last year, to receiver for the 2013 season. So far, it looks like the right move.
“He has just taken to the position amazingly,” Rosenbach said. “He’s picked up that piece of the offense. He catches everything, competes and works his tail off.”
Zane Hopen, Shorewood, WR/DB
The 6-foot-3, 185-pound senior is a mainstay on the hardwood but now takes his skills to the gridiron, where he’ll be catching passes from first-year QB Aaron Okamura.
GAMES TO WATCH
Meadowdale vs. Kamiak
Goddard Stadium, Everett
Friday, Sept. 6, 7 p.m.
New-look Mavs get a stiff test in this season opening showdown.
Terrace vs. Glacier Peak
Snohomish Veterans Memorial Stadium
Friday, Sept. 27, 7 p.m.
Wesco 3A South opener for both teams will give one of these teams a leg up.
Terrace vs. Meadowdale
Edmonds District Stadium
Friday, Oct. 11, 8 p.m.
Mavs hit game-winning FG with six seconds to play; expect another barn-burner.
Shorecrest vs. Shorewood
Friday, Oct. 11, 7 p.m.
This Shoreline School District rivalry could have playoff implications on the line.
Meadowdale vs. Glacier Peak
Snohomish Veterans Memorial Stadium
Friday, Oct. 25, 7 p.m.
This game decided the 3A South title last year and could be a repeat in 2013.