Eds. note: Herald writer Aaron Lommers visited Monroe camp on Friday afternoon.
What’s new: Andrew Zimmerman, Jr., QB
Mitchell Price and Hunter Bingham split time at quarterback for the Bearcats a season ago, but Zimmerman will take the snaps in 2013. Price has graduated and Bingham was moved to wide receiver this season, opening the door for Zimmerman, who had an impressive showing for the Monroe 7-on-7 team this summer.
Zimmerman started at quarterback for the JV team last season, but Monroe head coach Dick Abrams decided now was the time for to let the junior lead the varsity squad.
“Andrew matured a lot and had a great summer,” Abrams said. “With the 7-on-7 and all of that and in the spring he was a leader as far getting kids out to do 7-on-7 and that carried over into the summer when he was a leader in the weight room.
Abrams said Bingham is capable of playing quarterback, but is also a very good receiver so starting Zimmerman at QB and moving Bingham to wide out makes the Bearcats a bit more dynamic.
Zimmerman has the physical tools to be a successful quarterback, but it is a position that requires a high football IQ, something Abrams said is one of Zimmerman’s biggest strengths.
“Some young kids as they come through and develop as quarterbacks just seem to have a sense as to where the ball should go,” Abrams said. “Besides having a fairly strong arm, he’s also got that sense about him where he can see windows open on the field. He’s got a feel for his receivers. That’s the thing that I think has really helped him develop as a leader for us.”
Returning All-Wesco players
First team—Gabe Moore (Sr., Return Specialist). Second team—Gabe Moore (Sr., Running Back, Linebacker). Honorable Mention—Hunter Bingham (Sr., Linebacker), Alex Vidican (Jr., Offensive Line), Brennan Brown (Sr., Offensive Line), Lucas Walter (Sr., Defensive Line).
Player to watch: Gabe Moore, Sr., RB/LB
Following in older brother Jordan’s footsteps, senior Gabe Moore has become a dangerous running back. He is a threat to score on every handoff he takes, but can also step out and play wide receiver.
The Bearcats will need those type of big plays from Moore if they are going to be able to secure another league championship.
“He can change a game with his big play ability,” Abrams said. “Sometimes our kids on the sidelines and even the coaches are like, ‘wow, did you see that.’”
Moore’s biggest weapon might be his quick feet. It doesn’t take much for him to hit a hole when he sees an opening.
“The college recruiters that look at him love his innate ability to plant his feet and make breaks,” Abrams said of Moore. “That’s how they see him and why they see him as being able to play at the next level.”
Fresh face: Shanden Mixayphone, Jr., WR/DB
Mixayphone competed with some of his teammates in the 7-on-7 tournaments in the offseason and is poised to make an impact on the varsity team this season Abrams said.
“He’s a pretty quick kid,” Abrams said. “He’s worked a lot this summer and improved his speed a lot. We think he can help us both as a running back a receiver, also defensively he’s playing really good cornerback for us.”
The Bearcats look as though they will have a lot of weapons this season and Mixayphone should fit right in.
“He’s kind of got that breakaway ability kind of like Gabe,” Abrams said. “He’s got that big-play ability. I always look at that. I think that’s the difference between an average high-school player and a great high-school player, is, can they break a game open? Shanden’s kind of got that ability.”
The Wesco North is always a challenge, but there is no reason the Bearcats shouldn’t be considered the favorite after winning the league championship last season and with the success they have had this summer. Lake Stevens and Arlington should be near the top of the league again, Snohomish will have a new look with first-year head coach Kai Smalley and Mount Vernon is no slouch either, but the Bearcats return several players at the skill positions. If Zimmerman can take command of the offense and he is protected by his offensive line, the Bearcats could be looking at back-to-back league championships.