This is the second year of the Class 2A Northwest District football league, which consists of 10 teams split into the upper Sky Division and lower Lake Division. Below are capsules for the four local teams in the competitively balanced two-tiered league.
ARCHBISHOP MURPHY WILDCATS
Last season: 4-3 overall, 3-1 Northwest 2A Sky (lost in Week 10 playoffs)
Coach: Mark Leone (1st season)
Key players: Jack Barnes, sr., WR/LB; Joe Ennis, jr., RB/CB; Victor Gabalis, sr., QB/FS; Christian Hanna, jr., OL/DL; Daniel Jenkins, jr., OL/DL; Mason Mathis, sr., RB/LB; Josh McCarron, jr., TE/DE; Zion Robinson, sr., OL/DL; Josiah Santiago, sr., RB/DB
Outlook: After three consecutive 2A state semifinal appearances, the Wildcats suffered an early postseason exit last year with a stunning 37-9 loss to Sehome in the Week 10 winner-to-state round. It was just the fourth time since 2002 that Archbishop Murphy failed to reach state. The Wildcats look to rebound this fall under interim head coach Mark Leone, a 2006 Archbishop Murphy graduate who replaced former coach Jerry Jensen. The Wildcats return third-year starting quarterback Gabalis, a two-star senior recruit with scholarship offers from Army, Navy and Air Force. Leone said the team’s offense will remain run-first and will operate out of the Wing-T formation more often this season. Defensive linemen Robinson and McCarron return to anchor a defense that’s looking to put together more consistent performances week to week than it did last year.
Last season: 5-5 overall, 0-4 Northwest 2A Sky (lost in Week 10 playoffs)
Coach: Dan Teeter (14th season)
Key players: Keegan Bach, jr., OL/DL; Carson Chrisman, jr., WR/DB; Riley Krueger, sr., TE/LB; Landen Pruitt, sr., RB; Jackson Schultz, sr., RB/WR/SS; Jakobus Seth, soph., OL/TE/DE; Morgan Stacey, sr., WR/LB; Brandt Starkey, sr., WR/DE; Jared Taylor, sr., QB
Outlook: The Cougars went 0-4 in Sky Division play last season, but two of those losses came by a combined seven points — including a one-point loss to division runner-up Archbishop Murphy. Although Lakewood graduated five first-team all-conference players, it returns senior quarterback Taylor. The dual-threat signal-caller completed 58 percent of his passes last year for 1,878 yards, 23 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Taylor also led the Cougars in rushing with 584 yards and seven scores. Lakewood’s top two receivers from last season both graduated, but Teeter said wideouts Stacey, Starkey and Chrisman are poised to fill the void.
MOUNTLAKE TERRACE HAWKS
Last season: 5-4 overall, 4-1 Northwest 2A Lake (lost in first round of Northwest/Sea-King Bi-District playoffs)
Coach: Tony Umayam (1st season)
Key players: Dylan Breuer, sr., RB/LB; Elijah Dahlman, jr., QB; Ethan Dunne, jr., TE/LB; Jai Nath, jr., LB/TE; Anthony Russell, sr., OL/DL; Marcos Sanchez, sr., RB/DB; Jordan Sims, jr., RB/DB; Noah Thompson, sr., OL/DL/P
Outlook: The Hawks earned a three-way share of the Lake Division crown last year, which marked the program’s first-ever division or league title since the school opened in 1960. Mountlake Terrace’s season ended in the first round of the bi-district playoffs with a 28-10 loss to Blaine, which the Hawks routed 40-0 just three weeks prior. Umayam is back as the head coach after taking a break from coaching. During his previous tenure as the Hawks’ head coach from 2004 to 2014, the Mountlake Terrace graduate guided the program to some of its best seasons in school history. The Hawks graduated all four of their all-conference players from last year, but look to continue their success on defense after yielding just 16 points per game last season.
CEDARCREST RED WOLVES
Last season: 3-6 overall, 1-4 Northwest 2A Lake
Coach: John Fiala (1st season)
Key players: None provided
Outlook: Fiala, a former University of Washington standout linebacker and Pittsburgh Steelers special-teams captain, takes over a Cedarcrest program that’s had only one winning season since 2011. The Red Wolves look to improve offensively after averaging just 8.8 points per game in Lake Division play last year.