North Sound Conference football preview: Team capsules

The key players and outlooks for the conference’s six teams.

Cedar Park Christian

Last season: 7-2, 5-0 in conference play (lost in Week 10 playoffs)

Coach: Manase Hopoi (first season)

Key players: Zach Wilkins, sr., RB; John Petruns, jr., WR/DB; Elijah Brown, jr., TE/LB; Matthew Gibson, sr, LB; WR/DB; Nahum Salgado, jr., OL/DL

Outlook: After a 4-6 showing in 2017 that included a 1-5 record in conference play, the Eagles took a highly-anticipated step forward in Butch Goncharoff’s second year leading the program as CPC breezed through its North Sound Conference schedule and won all five games by 12 points or more en route school’s first-ever league title in football. Things have changed a bit since last season, though, as Goncharoff has moved into the offensive coordinator role after taking a job with the XFL’s Seattle Dragons as running backs coach. The move by Goncharoff led CPC to promote assistant Hopoi, a former standout defensive lineman for the University of Washington, to head coach. Hopoi takes over a team with five all-conference selections returning from last season’s league-title team, which only had four seniors. The Eagles’ 2018 season came to an end with a 49-10 blowout loss to Mount Baker in a Week 10 playoff game. The next step for CPC is a Week 10 victory and the program’s first state playoff berth since 2011. The Eagles get an interesting matchup in Week 2 when they head to California for a matchup with Rancho Christian.

2019 schedule

Granite Falls

Last season: 2-8, 2-3 in conference play (lost in Week 10 play-in game)

Coach: Brandon Davis (second season)

Key players: Mason McBride, sr., WR/DB; Jarad Barth, jr., OL/DL; Ryan Gese, soph., QB; Luis Hernandez, jr., WR/DB

Outlook: After starting last season 0-6, the Tigers snuck into the postseason — earning their second appearance in the past three years — with a pair of league victories in the regular season’s final three weeks. Granite Falls’ season came to a crashing halt, though, as they were on the wrong end of a 61-0 drubbing from Mount Baker in a Week 10 play-in game. The Tigers’ lose running back Brayden Counsellor, who helped key the team’s late-season push while averaging nearly 100 yards per game from scrimmage over the final five contest, but return starting QB Gese and top receiver McBride, a first-team all-league selection. In search of its first winning season since 2008, Granite Falls will be tested early with matchups against Class 3A Shorewood and 2018 1A state quarterfinalist Nooksack Valley. The Tigers will also be a well-traveled team by season’s end, with six of their nine games coming on the road, including trips to Forks, Friday Harbor and Klahowya (Silverdale).

2019 schedule

King’s

Last season: 4-6, 4-1 in conference play (lost in Week 10 playoffs)

Coach: Jim Shapiro (23rd season)

Key players: Colin Hamilton, sr., OT; Davis Campbell, sr., WR/DB; Elian Sundquist, jr., TE/DE; Lachlan McGregor, jr., RB/LB

Outlook: The Knights enter the 2019 season in the midst of their longest state-playoff drought since 2008, although the team’s absence spans just two seasons. After losing its first four games of 2018 by a combined score of 164-30, King’s ran off four wins in its five North Sound Conference games to claim second place in the league and earn a Week 10 playoff matchup with eventual 1A state semifinalist Lynden Christian. Hamilton, a 6-foot-7, 280 pound lineman with an offer from NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision’s University of San Diego, anchors the Knights’ offensive line, and wide receiver/defensive back Campbell — who led the conference in receptions and receiving yards last season — provides King’s with a proven weapon in the passing game. The Knights open the season with three tough non-conference road games against 2A Lakewood, 3A Lakeside and 1A state quarterfinalist Nooksack Valley.

2019 schedule

South Whidbey

Last season: 6-4, 3-2 in conference play (lost in Week 10 playoffs)

Coach: Mark Hodson (16th season, 2001-2013, 2017-present)

Key players: Kobe Balora, sr., OL/LB; Kole Nelson, sr., QB; Alex Black, sr., WR/DB; Lewis Mattson, sr., OL/DL; Aiden Coleman, sr., RB/LB

Outlook: The Falcons are coming off a resurgent season after spending 2017 playing an independent schedule. South Whidbey brings back three offensive linemen that earned all-conference honors last season, so expect the Falcons to be strong up front, and first-team tight end Nelson has taken over at quarterback for second-team selection Kody Newman. Newman and first-team running back Clay O’Brien will be tough to replace on offense, but South Whidbey didn’t lose much else from last year’s 6-4 squad. King’s and Cedar Park Christian enter the season as the favorites to finish atop the conference standings, but don’t sleep on the Falcons as a darkhorse candidate to win the league. A Saturday, Oct. 12 matchup against Cedar Park Christian at Lake Washington High School is one to keep an eye one. South Whidbey was the only North Sound Conference team to put up 20 points on the Eagles’ stingy defense last season.

2019 schedule

Sultan

Last season: 2-7, 1-4 in conference play

Coach: Rick Rudd (fifth season, 1996-1999, 2019-present)

Key players: Aidan Fleming, sr., RB/LB; Cody Deason,sr., OT/ILB; Nathan Honold, sr., C/NT; Willy Bennett, sr., QB/LB; Kaden Hardwick, jr., RB/ILB

Outlook: The Turks enter their first season back under the guidance of Rick Rudd, who led the program from 1996-1999 and has spent various stints since as an assistant coach for the program. Rudd is the program’s fourth coach in the past five seasons. Deason and Honold anchor what looks to be a big, physical offensive line that will lead the way for running backs Fleming and Hardwick. The Turks appear to have a tough non-conference schedule, which includes matchups with a pair of 2A schools and a 1A Cashmere squad coming off back-to-back winning seasons. October will be a big month for Sultan, with the school’s homecoming game, rivalry matchup with Granite Falls and senior night taking place in successive weeks.

2019 schedule

Coupeville

Last season: 3-6, 0-5 in conference play

Coach: Marcus Carr (second season)

Key players: Sean Toomey-Stout, sr., RB/DB; Gavin Knoblich, sr., TE/DE; Dawson Houston, sr., QB

Outlook: The Wolves enter the 2019 season looking to rebuild a struggling program as they play an independent schedule. Coupeville’s schedule includes teams from Classes 2B-3A, and the Wolves will still play their annual rivalry game with South Whidbey on Oct. 18. Running back/defensive back Toomey-Stout was a standout in all three facets of the game last season, earning first-team honors as at running back, defensive back and as a return specialist. Coupeville hopes to repeat the success its Whidbey Island rival had while playing in independent schedule in 2017, which led to a 7-2 season. A winning season would be the Wolves first since 2005.

2019 schedule

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