<b>GAMES OF THE WEEK | </b>By David Pan Weekly Herald sports editor
Cue the music.
It’s that time of the year again.
It’s what prep football fans have been waiting for ever since the final seconds ticked off the clock in the last championship game of the Gridiron Classic last December.
It’s the kickoff to the 2012 season.
Edmonds-Woodway, Lynnwood, Meadowdale and Mountlake Terrace all head into the season with high hopes and playoff aspirations.
Optimism reigns with every team in the league. Every team is currently tied for first place and undefeated.
That won’t be the case after this weekend, although all four Edmonds District teams open with nonconference contests, so the league races won’t be affected by Friday’s results.
The Weekly Herald sports department compiled an impressive 29-9 record with our predictions last season.
Unfortunately, this year’s “Prep Games of the Week” feature will have an abbreviated run.
As many of you know, this is final edition of The Weekly Herald, previously known as The Enterprise.
So here’s hoping we go out on a high note with our first and last set of predictions for the 2012 season.
MEADOWDALE VS. KAMIAK
Game time: 5 p.m. Friday at Edmonds Stadium
2011 records: Meadowdale 11-1 overall; Kamiak 4-6 overall
Players to watch: The Mavericks should continue to be one of the most explosive offensive teams in the area with a trio of senior standouts in running back Giavani Shepard, quarterback Brian Marty and wide receiver Ryan White. Also expect to see contributions from running backs Michael Cummings and Chace Diemond. Kamiak will be led by senior quarterback Brett Ludeman, who stepped in last season when starter Anthony Berg was injured before the first game. Junior running back Austin Hall started the final three games of season and slides into a starting role.
Breakdown: Meadowdale should be tested by a Kamiak team that coach Dan Mack expects to contend for the Wesco 4A South Division title. The Mavericks are coming off an 11-1 season and a Wesco 3A crown. Meadowdale has plenty of experience at the skill positions and also has some experience back on the offensive line. The defense is Meadowdale coach Mark Stewart’s biggest concern as the team lost seven starters. The talent is there. It’s a matter of coming together as a cohesive unit. We’re betting the Mavericks will pull it together just fine.
Weekly Herald pick: Meadowdale 35, Kamiak 14
LYNNWOOD VS. SHORECREST
Game time: 7 p.m. Friday at Shoreline Stadium
2011 records: Lynnwood 3-7 overall, Shorecrest 5-5
Last year’s result: Shorecrest 14, Lynnwood 13
Players to watch: It might be unusual to focus on a lineman, but Lynnwood’s Andrew Basham bears watching. The University of Washington-bound Basham is a game-changer on offense and especially on defense. The Royals hope to run a balanced offense and have plenty of experience in the backfield with running backs Jordan Drew and David Vo. The talented wide receiver corps includes David Nguyen, Andrew Katzenberger, Corey Newman and Hunter Lord. Shorecrest will look to junior Nik Hendriks and senior Tyson Maine to split time at quarterback. Running back Keegan Small and wide receiver Aaron Kelly are among the Scots’ playmakers.
Breakdown: Home field advantage goes to Shorecrest but Lynnwood has the best player on the field in lineman Basham. Both teams will be starting new quarterbacks, though the Royals’ situation was in flux with a pair of sophomores and a possible fifth-year senior battling it out. Lynnwood is starting over again with a new head coach, Adam Fermstad, who is more focused on the future than on the team’s previous struggles. If the Royals starts out strong and avoid early mistakes, their confidence will grow.
Weekly Herald pick: Lynnwood 28, Shorecrest 27
MOUNTLAKE TERRACE VS. STANWOOD
Game time: 7 p.m. Friday at Stanwood High School
2011 records: Mountlake Terrace 2-8 overall, Stanwood 2-8 overall
Players to watch: Mountlake Terrace junior running back Devante Downs brings speed and power to the backfield and he’ll be joined by seniors Mason Stone and Chris Guerrero. Senior quarterback Beau Kennedy also will be a threat to run when he isn’t throwing it to wide receivers Tye Esparza, Quinton Barnard and Shawn Evenson. Stanwood returns a talented senior class eager to record some wins. Junior Drew Wright is expected to start at quarterback with former quarterback Kyle Strachan moving to running back. Wide receiver Jake Campbell is emerging as a big-play threat.
Breakdown: Both Mountlake Terrace and Stanwood are looking to rebound from tough 2011 campaigns. A win would set the tone for either team. The Hawks’ offensive line struggled last year and needs to come together for the team to be successful. Mountlake Terrace coach Tony Umayam actually likes taking his team on the road and with less pressure on Downs, one of the top running backs in the league, the Hawks look ready to start out with a victory.
Weekly Herald pick: Mountlake Terrace 38, Stanwood 28
EDMONDS-WOODWAY VS. EVERETT
Game time: 8 p.m. Friday at Edmonds Stadium
2011 records: Edmonds-Woodway 6-5 overall; Everett 5-5 overall
Players to watch: Senior Desmond Young is one of the most electrifying running backs in the league. If he gets past the line of scrimmage, it’s off to the races. Teammate Davis Giles started seven games at quarterback last season. He should only improve with that experience. Look for him to throw the ball to Lee Anderson and Troy Rheinford. Matt Cuzzetto and Mac McLachlan also should see action in the backfield. Everett junior Bryce Jameson and sophomore Nolan Rogge were competing for the starting quarterback position. The Seagulls’ backfield includes Ahmed Kamagate and Taylor Gipson.
Breakdown: Edmonds-Woodway is looking to start out strong this year and should have a good shot against an Everett squad that lost its starting quarterback and top running back/receiver. The Warriors have experience in the skill positions, especially at running back. The offensive line saw a significant turnover but is shaping up well. Edmonds-Woodway looks to have a talent and experience advantage over the Seagulls.
Weekly Herald pick: Edmonds-Woodway 42, Everett 14