Cedar Park Christian Eagles
Last season: 4-6, 1-4 in conference play
Coach: Butch Goncharoff (second season)
Key Players: Zach Wilkins, jr., RB/DB; John Petrus, soph., RB/DB; Dawson Drews, sr., TE/LB.
Outlook: The Eagles return leading-rusher Zach Wilkins, who averaged 5.3 yards per carry while rushing for 758 yards and nine TDs on 143 carries as a freshman in 2017, and 1,196 of their 2,111 total yards (56.7 percent) from skill position players a season ago. With many young offensive producers returning, CPC looks primed to have one of the league’s top offenses. They’ll just have to cut down on the turnovers this season. The Eagles fumbled the ball 25 times and threw three interceptions on just 27 pass attempts. Don’t sleep on the team’s defense, which nabbed 14 interceptions and recovered six fumbles a season ago.
Last season: 3-7, 1-6 in conference play
Coach: Marcus Carr (first season)
Key Players: Sean Toomey-Stout, jr., WB/CB; Dane Lucero, sr., QB/DE; Chris Battaglia, sr. RB/LB; Dawson Houston, jr., QB.
Outlook: Under first-year head coach Marcus Carr, the Wolves will be a somewhat of an unknown commodity as they rejoin their former Cascade Conference peers after exiting the now-defunct conference following the 2013-2014 school year. Carr said the team is quickly picking up the new schemes he’s introduced this summer, which includes a Shotgun Double Wing offense. Sean Toomey-Stout is the team’s leading returner in rushing (224 yards) and receiving (120).
Granite Falls Tigers
Last season: 4-6, 3-2 in conference play
Coach: Brandon Davis (first season)
Key Players: Seth Harris, sr., RB/LB; Mason McBride, jr., WR/DB; Liam Schenfeld, sr., OL/DL.
Outlook: The Tigers enter their first season under the reins of head coach Brandon Davis, who replaces 2017 Cascade Conference Coach of the Year Tim Dennis. Granite Falls welcomes back former head coach and new offensive coordinator Tracey Bechtholdt, who returns to the program after spending time as a Lake Stevens assistant. The Tigers’ biggest question this season is how to replace the production of first-team all-conference quarterback Camden Landrum, who totaled 2,083 yards and 21 touchdowns through the air and on the ground a season ago. The youth-laden squad, expected to have just three seniors, will hope to get multiple contributions to fill that void. “I don’t think you can replace a guy like Camden,” Davis said. “because he had an incredible work ethic and he was a phenomenal athlete. He was kind of a one-of-a-kind guy.”
Last season: 3-7, 3-3 conference play (lost in district crossover round)
Coach: Jim Shapiro (22nd season)
Key Players: Avery Hamann, sr., DE/LB; Danny Bogen, sr., G/LB; Collin Hamilton, jr., T/DT; Max Lane, sr., WR/FS; Jacob Gaez, sr., WR.
Outlook: The Knights enter the 2018 season coming off of a year plagued with injuries and with hopes of getting back to a winning tradition that had the school in the 1A state playoffs for seven straight seasons (2010-16). King’s returns five starters on offense and six on defense, including senior defensive end/linebacker Avery Hamann, who is getting the attention of FCS schools in the region. The Knights are tasked with replacing do-everything quarterback/wide receiver Brennon Blevins, who totaled 22 touchdowns a season ago (six passing, 13 rushing, 3 receiving).
South Whidbey Falcons
Last season: 7-2, played an independent schedule in 2017
Coach: Mark Hodson (15th season, 2001-2013, 2017-present)
Key Players: Kody Newman, sr., QB; Caden Spear, sr., RB/WR/S; Clay O’Brien, sr., RB/LB; Carter Snellings, sr., OL/DL.
Outlook: A year removed from an effort to restart a struggling program by playing an independent schedule and bringing back longtime coach Mark Hodson, the Falcons enter the season with a boost in confidence and participation numbers. The Falcons are a young team, consisting of mostly sophomores and juniors, but have a handful of seniors to help lead their youthful roster. Senior Clay O’Brien will be all over the field before the snap on offense and should be a key contributor wherever he lines up. Carter Snellings, a 6-foot-7, 315 pound lineman, should be an imposing force up front. Hodson said the team’s strength will be on the defensive side of the ball.
Last season: 4-6, 4-1 in conference play (lost in district crossover round)
Coach: Jim Wright (second season)
Key players: Josh Ford, sr., RB/DE; Riley Rudolfo, soph., WR/CB; Zaine Sailor, soph., WR/SS; Cody Deason, jr., T/DE; Tyler Deason, jr., T/DT; Jensen Webster, sr., QB.
Outlook: The Turks return eight starters on offense and seven on defense, including their entire offensive line, from a young team that finished second in the Cascade Conference in 2017. However, Sultan will be tasked with breaking in new starting quarterback Jensen Webster after this past season’s starter, Brayden Haefele, transferred. That task should be made a little easier with twins Cody (6-foot-4, 255 pounds) and Tyler Deason (6-5, 235) blocking in front of him.