ARCHBISHOP MURPHY WILDCATS
Last season: 14-0, 6-0 in conference play (Class 2A state champions)
Coach: Jerry Jensen (fifth season)
Key players: Kyler Gordon, sr., WR/DB; Dillon Singh Halpin, jr., WR/DB; Ben Hines, sr., RB/LB; Matt Keck, sr., OL/DL; John Land-Quinn, jr., OL/DL; Kobe Moorhead, sr., OL/DL; Martin Napeahi Jr., sr., OL/DL; Emmanuel Osuoha, sr., RB/LB; Ray Pimentel, sr., RB/DB; Luke Riojas, jr., LB; Ryan Schroeder, sr., TE/LB; Jeric Williams, sr., WR/DB
Outlook: Archbishop Murphy lost numerous starters on both sides of the ball from last year’s dominant state-championship squad, which won all nine games by at least 34 points during a season that was shortened by forfeits because of player-safety concerns from opposing teams. But with plenty of returning talent — including big-time college prospect Kyler Gordon, standout linebackers Ben Hines and Emmanuel Osuoha, and 6-foot-2, 300-pound center Martin Napeahi Jr. — the Wildcats are favorites to win another state crown.
CEDAR PARK CHRISTIAN EAGLES
Last season: 4-6, 2-4 in conference play
Coach: Butch Goncharoff (first season)
Key players: Killian Boyle, sr., OL/DL; Bradley Cumley, sr., OL/DL/K; Jason He, sr., RB/LB; Payton Nelson, sr., TE/LB; Tyler Shimmin, sr., OL/LB;
Outlook: CPC-Bothell begins a new era under coach Butch Goncharoff, who guided Class 3A powerhouse Bellevue to 11 state titles in 16 years as the Wolverines’ coach. Goncharoff was removed from his job last year following an investigation that found the Bellevue program had committed wide-ranging violations of state rules. Goncharoff brings a wealth of experience to the Eagles, who are looking to be more competitive this fall after losing three of their five league games last year by 27 points or more.
CEDARCREST RED WOLVES
Last season: 4-6, 2-4 in conference play
Coach: Billy Ojeda (third season)
Key players: Sam Bennett, jr., OL/DL; Aaron Davenport, sr., QB; Jake Fowler, sr., WR/DB; Tyler Gray, jr., WR/DB; Caleb Lay, jr., OL/DL; Frederick Reid, jr., RB/LB; Jaren Stevenson, sr., RB/LB
Outlook: Cedarcrest lost several all-conference players from last year but returns versatile senior Jaren Stevenson, who earned all-league honors on both the offensive and defensive line last season after filling in due to a rash of injuries. Stevenson has moved back to his natural positions this fall at running back and linebacker.
GRANITE FALLS TIGERS
Last season: 4-6, 3-3 in conference play (lost in district crossover round)
Coach: Tim Dennis (second season)
Key players: Andrew Buchholz, sr., RB/LB; Hunter Chapman, sr., OL/DL; Brayden Counsellor, jr., RB/DB; Ryan Dennis, sr., WR/LB; Seth Harris, jr., RB/LB; Camden Landrum, sr., QB/DB; Liam Schenfeld, jr., OL/DL;
Outlook: After just two league wins combined in the previous three seasons, Granite Falls won three conference games last year and reached the postseason. The Tigers aim to continue their improvement this fall under second-year coach Tim Dennis.
Last season: 6-3, 5-1 in conference play (lost in district crossover round)
Coach: Jim Shapiro (21st season)
Key players: Brennon Blevins, sr., QB/WR/DB; Logan Perrigo, sr., RB/LB; Taylor Schoenfeld, sr., OL/DL; Atley Shapiro, sr., WR/DB
Outlook: The Knights are aiming for a return to the state playoffs after seeing their streak of seven consecutive state appearances snapped last fall. King’s lost nine-all-conference players from last year, including speedy running back Caleb Perry, who is now a member of the Washington State football team. But the Knights are a constant force under veteran coach Jim Shapiro, and they return a standout two-way lineman in Taylor Schoenfeld who is garnering NCAA Division-I college interest.
SOUTH WHIDBEY FALCONS
Last season: 1-8, 0-6 in conference play
Coach: Mark Hodson (returns for his 14th season after coaching the team from 2001-2013)
Key players: Alex Turner, jr., OL; Lucas Watson, sr., OL
Outlook: The Falcons will play an independent schedule this fall as they work to build up their participation numbers. Longtime coach Mark Hodson returns to South Whidbey after a three-year hiatus, looking to turn around a program that lost all five league games last year by 28 points or more.
Last season: 6-4, 3-3 in conference play (lost in district crossover round)
Coach: Jim Wright (first season)
Key players: Brayden Haefele, soph., QB/DB; Phoenix McGuire, sr., TE/LB; Alex Perrigo, sr., ATH; Tre Sargent, sr., RB/LB; Errett Turner, sr., WR/DB
Outlook: Sultan lost head coach Jim Kruckenberg and seven all-conference players from last year’s team, which compiled the program’s first winning season since 2006. Jim Wright takes over a young Turks squad after holding previous head-coaching positions at Seattle Lutheran and Franklin.