MONROE — There is a world of difference between a game of 7-on-7 football in the summer and a normal high-school football game, but lately the Monroe Bearcats have been successful at both.
The school secured the Wesco North championship last season and continued to build on that success this summer by winning the Seattle Seahawks Regional 7-on-7 football tournament in June.
The tournament was part of the NFL’s High School Player Development (HSPD) program.
The high-school team is back on the field this week preparing for the upcoming season and hoping to defend their league championship.
Both high-school and 7-on-7 games are played with a football, but other than that there are very few similarities. The 7-on-7 games are non-contact and played on a 40-yard field. Only passing plays are allowed.
Being unable to run the ball or make contact, and without playing with the full roster, makes it difficult to use winning the 7-on-7 tournament as any kind of gauge. If nothing else, it gave the players more experience.
“It helps that we’ve had a lot of reps with each other,” senior wide receiver and defensive back Hunter Bingham said. “From a quarterback and receiver standpoint, we can both read the defenses, not just the quarterback. We know where we are going to be. When we break, (the quarterback) knows where we are going to be. So it’s a trust thing.
The 12 players from the Monroe team that competed in the 7-on-7 tournaments qualified for regionals by winning the 7-on-7 camp at Glacier Peak High School at the end of May, outplaying Glacier Peak, Lake Stevens, Snohomish and Sultan.
If the 7-on-7 games were any indication, the Bearcats should have a potent passing attack this season. Incoming junior quarterback Andrew Zimmerman threw for 21 touchdowns and had just one interception in the local games leading up to the national tournament in Ohio, where the Monroe team finished 11th out of 32 teams in July.
Senior running back and defensive back Gabe Moore said the team was happy to have success at the national level, but are focused on bigger goals.
“It’s cool that it is a national tournament,” Moore said. “But what it comes down to is, it’s pretty much practice for us going into the regular season. It gives us a little bit of confidence that we have the ability to pass the ball and do some things against other teams.”
The fun began when King’s head coach Jim Shapiro was asked to pick a “fresh face” on the Knights to highlight for the upcoming football season.
The coach chuckled as he looked at his team, which is preparing to defend its first Cascade Conference title after graduating 19 members of last year’s squad.
“I laugh because they’re all fresh faces,” Shapiro said.
Shapiro said the Knights have just nine seniors and “three or four” returning starters from their 2012 team, which made it to the 1A state quarterfinals for the fourth consecutive year.
Gone is quarterback Billy Green, the Cascade Conference Offensive MVP and The Herald’s Offensive All-Area Player of the Year. Also graduated are first-team, all-league selections Mason Friedline (offensive and defensive line), now playing at Yale; Caleb Taylor (a wide receiver and the league Defensive MVP, who is walking on at the University of Washington); Ben Welch (receiver and defensive back); Jordan Tranter (offensive line); Chris Jenkins (linebacker); and Trevor Hansen (running back).
“Obviously, it’ll be different,” said senior tackle Zach Jacobson, who was a second-team all-league offensive lineman last year. “It was fun getting to play and learn from those guys. But it’ll be exciting to see new guys step up for them.”
King’s will look to guys like Chris Yand, a senior running back who has missed the past two seasons with knee injuries, and sophomore Koa Wilkins, who won the in-camp quarterback battle.
“I’m excited to see how they get battle-tested,” Shapiro said. “So my hopes are really high.
“The future looks bright.”
— David Krueger, Herald Writer
Oak Harbor camp
For Oak Harbor it starts at quarterback, but that’s not where it ends.
The Wildcats must replace two-year starter Ian Kolste, but except for running back Sheyenne Sams, who saw significant carries last season, the Wildcats have inexperienced players at every skill position on offense.
“We’re replacing every one of our specialties,” Oak Harbor coach Jay Turner said matter-of-factly.
Clayton Doughty and Michael Lanningham are vying to replace Kolste and the coach is happy with his two juniors’ progress.
“We really like both kids,” Turner said. “Each one has different strengths so we’ve designed different packages for each kid.”
The Wildcats experimented with a no-huddle and the pistol offense during the summer, but as of now both formations will be more wrinkles than a norm.
Sams will be the lead dog out of the backfield, along with junior Dejon Devroe and senior fullback Julian Faralan. Both Devroe and Faralan saw limited time on offense last season.
“It’s going to be a lot on mine and Dejon’s shoulders,” Sams said. “We have the ball in our hands most of the time. If we’re going to rely on running our running backs have to be top notch.”
Gone at wide receiver are Andre Cumberbatch and JoJo Webster. Turner said that sophomore Dylan Harris, who saw some limited action in last season’s playoff loss to Peninsula, has shown some good things, but overall the position is a big question mark for the Wildcats.
“There’s some definitely some new faces there,” Turner said.
— Aaron Swaney, Herald Writer
Turks get new helmets
It’s been tradition for the Sultan football team to not put the team’s logo on its helmet until they win their first game. The tradition continues this season, only this year the Turks will have new helmets to put those logos on.
“It (the logo) is something that they have to earn,” Sultan head coach Ben Murphy said.
In Murphy’s first year it took the Turks four games to earn their logos and that proved to be their lone win. In year two it only took two games, but the team won just three games total. In 2012 it took three games, but the team increased its total number of wins to four.
Under Murphy, the Turks have never earned their logos in the first game of the season. Does he expect that to change this season?
“I certainly do,” Murphy said. “Our kids expect the same.”
— Aaron Lommers, Herald Writer