Three weeks into the season, very few local prep football teams have separated themselves from the pack.
Lake Stevens appears to have once again established itself as the clear-cut favorite in Wesco 4A. And at the moment, Oak Harbor seems to be the early-season favorite in the Wesco 3A North.
But aside from that, much of the local prep football landscape seems relatively wide-open.
Part of that has to do with teams like Monroe, Ferndale and Edmonds-Woodway graduating a slew of talent from last year’s state-playoff teams.
Those three teams dominated nearly every conference opponent last season and finished with a combined 30-5 overall record. But after losing numerous key players and facing some difficult early-season competition, the three teams are off to a combined 1-8 start this year.
And while Monroe, Ferndale and Edmonds-Woodway don’t appear to be quite as formidable as last season, several previously struggling programs are on the upswing.
Mount Vernon, just two years removed from back-to-back winless campaigns in 2015 and 2016, is 3-0 after Friday night’s 52-6 rout of Cascade.
Shorewood, which averaged just 1.7 wins per season over the previous six years, snapped a 17-game Wesco 3A South losing streak last week and is now 2-1. Shorecrest, meanwhile, is off to its first 3-0 start since 2005.
Marysville Getchell recently ended a 13-game Wesco 3A North losing streak and lost by just 12 points to Ferndale on Friday night — just one year after a 55-point defeat to the Golden Eagles.
It’s only Week 3, but there appears to be a bit more parity throughout the local prep football landscape this season. Few teams have truly emerged as favorites, and many teams are still mysteries.
And that should make for an exciting journey the rest of the way.
VIKINGS LEANING ON THE RUN
Over the years, Lake Stevens has been known for a high-powered spread offense that consistently averages more than 40 points per game. That’s still the case this season, with the Vikings scoring 43 points per contest through the first three weeks.
But with a big and talented offensive line, fourth-ranked Lake Stevens (3-0 overall, 1-0 Wesco 4A) is running the ball much more frequently than in years past.
Each of the previous four seasons, the Vikings ran the ball approximately 50 to 55 percent of the time. This year, 67 percent of their plays have been runs.
Through three games, Lake Stevens has totaled 858 yards rushing on 124 carries, averaging a whopping 286 yards per contest and 6.9 yards per carry.
The Vikings’ trend toward the run was particularly evident in Friday night’s 49-31 win over Wesco 4A rival Monroe, when Lake Stevens carried the ball 47 times and attempted just 16 passes during a massive performance on the ground.
Junior running back Dallas Landeros led a rushing attack that totaled 383 yards and averaged 8.1 yards per carry, helping the Vikings score touchdowns on seven of their first eight possessions.
“They’re big, they’re disciplined (and) they do a great job of combo-blocking and getting to that second level,” Monroe coach Michael Bumpus said of Lake Stevens’ offensive line. “And they’re just well-coached. I’m not sure who their O-line coach is over there, but he does a hell of a job with those boys every year.
“And now you mix that in with the size and speed that they have, I see them going a long way.”
This isn’t to say the Vikings don’t still air it out. Senior quarterback Tre Long has thrown for 485 yards and five touchdowns this season, including a deep 55-yard touchdown pass to junior standout Kasen Kinchen on Friday.
Rather, instead of leaning slightly toward the pass like in recent years, it appears Lake Stevens’ high-powered spread attack is now doing the majority of its damage on the ground.
TWO QUARTERBACKS EXIT CLOSE GAMES WITH INJURIES
Marysville Getchell and Jackson both lost their starting quarterbacks to injury in tight games Friday night.
With the upset-minded Chargers trailing Ferndale 14-13 in the third quarter, senior quarterback Caleb Koellmer left the game and was replaced by his younger brother, Josiah, a sophomore. Ferndale went on to win 28-16.
“Obviously, Caleb is a four-year starter and the playbook shrunk down a little bit,” Marysville Getchell coach Davis Lura said. “But I thought Josiah did a really good job filling in.”
Lura said Caleb’s injury status is still up in the air. The Chargers (1-2 overall, 1-1 Wesco 3A North) continue conference play at Squalicum on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Jackson senior quarterback Ben Olesen exited with a head injury after taking a big hit on a first-quarter scramble in the Timberwolves’ 39-23 loss to Glacier Peak. Sophomore backup Nathan Clark came in and threw for 226 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions.
“Our offense revolves around Ben,” Jackson coach Joel Vincent said. “Anybody who watches us (or) scouts us, they know that. To lose Ben was huge. But, man, I’m super proud of our kid that came in.”
The Timberwolves (2-1 overall, 0-1 Wesco 4A) continue conference play against Cascade on Friday.
DARRINGTON POSTS BACK-TO-BACK SHUTOUTS IN EIGHT-MAN
Eight-man football is known for being a higher-scoring version of the game, for the simple fact there’s more open space on the field with three fewers players on each team than traditional 11-man football.
That’s what makes Darrington’s defensive performance the past two weeks particularly impressive.
After a season-opening 66-36 loss to Rainier Christian, the Loggers have recorded back-to-back shutouts with last week’s 42-0 rout of Seattle Lutheran and Friday night’s 44-0 blowout of Evergreen Lutheran. Darrington held Evergreen Lutheran to just 88 yards of total offense and an average of only 1.9 yards per play.
The Loggers (2-1) moved down to Class 1B eight-man football this season because of low participation numbers.
LIGHTNING DELAYS STRIKE TEAMS ACROSS THE AREA
At least five of Friday night’s games involving area teams were delayed by lightning: Cascade at Mount Vernon, Sedro-Woolley at Oak Harbor, Cedarcrest at Sultan, Klahowya at Granite Falls and Friday Harbor at Coupeville.
NEXT WEEK’S BIG GAMES
Ferndale at Arlington, 7 p.m. Friday: After holding off archrival Stanwood to claim the Stilly Cup, the Eagles host defending Wesco 3A North champion Ferndale in a key conference clash. At 1-1 in league play, this is a game Arlington likely needs to win in order to stay within striking distance in the Wesco 3A North race.
No. 5 Archbishop Murphy at No. 3 Lynden, 7 p.m. Friday: The Wildcats open Northwest 2A Sky Division play with a top-five showdown at Lynden. The two teams have met six times in the last decade — including four times in the final two rounds of the state playoffs — but this will be their first matchup as conference rivals.
Lakewood at Sedro-Woolley, 7 p.m. Friday: After rolling to a 3-0 start, the Cougars open Northwest 2A Sky Division play against Sedro-Woolley in a matchup between two teams that were part of a three-way tie for the Northwest Conference 2A title last season. The Cubs routed Lakewood 41-0 last year, handing the Cougars their only league loss of the season.
WEEK 3 STARS
Nick Walsh, sr., Jackson
Walsh rushed for 242 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries in the Timberwolves’ loss to Glacier Peak.
Garrett Holden, jr., Jackson
Holden topped 100 yards receiving for the second consecutive week, catching six passes for 137 yards and one touchdown in the Timberwolves’ loss to Glacier Peak.
Dallas Landeros, jr., Lake Stevens
Landeros ran for 244 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries in the Vikings’ win over Monroe.
Efton Chism III, jr., Monroe
Chism III caught eight passes for 179 yards and two touchdowns in the Bearcats’ loss to Lake Stevens, scoring on long receptions of 57 and 65 yards. The two-way standout also intercepted a deep pass on defense.
Blake Rybar, jr., Monroe
Rybar had eight catches for 109 yards and 12 carries for 63 yards — including a 41-yard rushing touchdown — in the Bearcats’ loss to Lake Stevens.
Gio Fregoso, jr., Monroe
Fregoso completed 26 of 40 passes for 383 yards, three touchdowns and one interception in the Bearcats’ loss to Lake Stevens.
Lamin Jallow, jr., Mariner
Jallow had eight carries for 129 yards and two touchdowns in the Marauders’ win over Kamiak.
Ayden Ziomas, sr., Glacier Peak
Ziomas continued his stellar play with 319 total yards and four touchdowns in the Grizzlies’ win over Jackson. The dual-threat quarterback completed 23 of 36 passes for 260 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He also ran for 59 yards and two scores.
Antonio Stillwell, sr., Shorecrest
Stillwell caught four passes for 201 yards and two touchdowns, scoring on receptions of 95 and 79 yards in the Scots’ win over Everett.
Sammy Seliga, sr., Shorecrest
Seliga had four receptions for 84 yards and two touchdowns and also intercepted two passes in the Scots’ win over Everett.
Tyler Massena, sr., Snohomish
Massena totaled 169 yards and five touchdowns in the Panthers’ win over Shorewood. The 5-foot-7 running back had 12 carries for 109 yards and three touchdowns, and also caught three passes for 60 yards and two scores.
Oak Harbor’s rushing attack
Caden Leckelt, Dorian Hardin and Landon Cantrell each topped 100 yards rushing as the Wildcats ran for 454 yards and five touchdowns in their rout of Sedro-Woolley.
Jared Taylor, jr., Lakewood
Taylor totaled five touchdowns in the Cougars’ rout of Evergreen. The dual-threat quarterback threw for 167 yards and two scores, and also rushed for 87 yards and three touchdowns.
Lucas Reuwsaat, jr., Darrington
Reuwsaat rushed for 154 yards and one touchdown on 16 carries in the Loggers’ rout of Evergreen Lutheran. He also had a receiving touchdown and a 78-yard kickoff return for a score.