Arlington’s Spencer Fischer grabs onto Auburn Mountainview’s Joeray Kilgore jersey during a state playoff game Nov. 5, 2021 in Arlington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Arlington’s Spencer Fischer grabs onto Auburn Mountainview’s Joeray Kilgore jersey during a state playoff game Nov. 5, 2021 in Arlington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Wesco 3A North football preview: Team capsules, storylines to watch, and more

League power Ferndale is the early favorite for a league title. Rising Stanwood appears to be its top challenger.


The predicted order of finish, as voted on by the league’s coaches. Included is the average placing for each team, with the number of first-place votes in parentheses.

1. Ferndale (6) — 1.0

2. Stanwood (1) — 1.8

3. Arlington — 2.8

4. Marysville Pilchuck — 3.8

5. Oak Harbor — 4.3

6. Marysville Getchell — 5.2

7. Mount Vernon — 5.5

NOTE: Coaches weren’t allowed to vote for their own teams.


Last season: 7-3 overall, 5-1 league; advanced to 3A winner-to-state round

Coach: Jamie Plenkovich (19th season)

Offense: Wing-T

Defense: 4-3

Returning starters: 8 on offense, 9 on defense

Key players: Landon Hatchett, sr., OL/DL; Jake Mason, sr., OL/DL; Isaiah Carlson, sr., RB/S; Conner Walcker, jr., WR/DB; Camden Raymond, jr., OL/DL; Trevor Fetty, sr., OL/DL; Damien Toney, sr., WR/DB; Jordan Mason, sr., TE/LB

Overview: The Golden Eagles enter 2022 as the preseason league-title favorite after finishing in a three-way tie for first last season. Ferndale returns the bulk of its starting lineup on both sides of the ball. Eight starters are back from an offense that averaged 34.4 points per game. Four-star senior recruit Isaiah Carlson headlines the backfield and has a big, experienced offensive line that’s led by three-star University of Washington commit Landen Hatchett and two-star senior Jake Mason. Carlson and Hatchett both figure to be key contributors for the defense, which returns nine starters. The Golden Eagles allowed 23.3 points per game last season. No team in Wesco 3A North has won more conference games than Ferndale since it joined the league as a football-only member in 2016. The Golden Eagles are 23-7 in league play over that stretch and have won at least a share of two conference titles.


Stanwood running back Ryder Bumgarner turns the corner during the Spartans upset of Lincolnin a Class 3A winner-to-state playoff game at the Lincoln Bowl in Tacoma on Nov. 5, 2021.

Stanwood running back Ryder Bumgarner turns the corner during the Spartans upset of Lincolnin a Class 3A winner-to-state playoff game at the Lincoln Bowl in Tacoma on Nov. 5, 2021.

Last season: 6-5 overall, 3-3 league; advanced to 3A state first round

Coach: Jeff Scoma (second season)

Offense: Wing-T

Defense: Multiple

Returning starters: 9 on offense, 9 on defense

Key players: Ryder Bumgarner, sr., RB/S/RS; Carson Beckt, sr., RB/LB; Noah Grina, sr., LB; Tripp Loertscher, sr., TE/DE; Jeremiah Johnson, sr., OL/DL; Luis Robledo, sr., DL; Otto Wiedmann, sr., RB/LB; Caden Caldero, sr., TE/DE

Overview: The Spartans are coming off their first winning season in 15 years and first state playoff berth since 1996. Stanwood clinched its state berth by knocking off Lincoln-Tacoma in the Week 10 playoffs, providing one of the state’s most surprising upsets of the year. After past struggles, Stanwood now enters its second season under coach Jeff Scoma with expectations of contending for a league title in Wesco 3A North. The Spartans are loaded with seniors and return nine starters on each side of the ball. On offense, standout senior running back Ryder Bumgarner returns after churning out 1,516 yards and 19 touchdowns rushing in the Spartans’ Wing-T attack. Stanwood has strong running back depth behind Bumgarner, and a stout group of offensive linemen to pave the way. A deep, experienced line highlights the defense, and the Spartans also welcome back impact linebackers and defensive backs.


Last season: 8-2 overall, 5-1 league; advanced to 3A state first round

Coach: Greg Dailer (15th season)

Offense: Spread

Defense: 3-5-3

Returning starters: 2 on offense, 3 on defense

Key players: Wyatt Tilton, sr., OL/DL; Spencer Fischer, sr., RB/LB; Jeremy Fleming, jr., RB/DE; Nolan Welch, jr., OL/LB; Jacoby Falor, jr., QB/WR/DB

Overview: The Eagles claimed a share of the Wesco 3A North title and made their first state playoff appearance since 2012 last season. Arlington got it done on both sides of the ball in 2021, scoring 38.0 points per game and allowing just 11.4, but the team has plenty of firepower to replace on both units after graduating nine starters on offense and eight on defense. Among the departures are first-team All-Area quarterback Trent Nobach (2,593 passing yards and 31 touchdowns), a trio of all-league receivers and one All-Area defender from the defensive line, linebacker corps and defensive back group. Senior Wyatt Tilton and junior Jeremy Fleming make up a pair of all-league picks returning for a defensive line that coach Greg Dailer said should be a strength of the team. The Eagles will have plenty of new faces on the field, and they’ll be tested right away with a Week 1 matchup against Kamiak.


Kenai Sinaphet takes the hand off from head coach Dalton Schwetz during practice Aug. 17 at Marysville Pilchuck High School in Marysville. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Kenai Sinaphet takes the hand off from head coach Dalton Schwetz during practice Aug. 17 at Marysville Pilchuck High School in Marysville. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Last season: 11-2 overall, 5-1 league; advanced to 3A state semifinals

Coach: Dalton Schwetz (first season)

Offense: Power spread

Defense: Multiple 4-2-5

Returning starters: 1 on offense, 3 on defense

Key players: Christian Van Natta, sr., TE/LB; Miguel Chavez, sr., WR/DB; Lucian Curtis, sr., ATH/DB; Joe Davis, soph., RB/LB; Avery Brennan, soph., OL; Kori Deneal, soph, OL/DL; Cyrus Bowers, soph., OL

Overview: The Tomahawks are coming off one of the most successful seasons in program history. Marysville Pilchuck steamrolled opponents on their way to the program’s third state semifinal appearance, outscoring teams by 33.3 points per game in its 11 wins. This season is the start of a new era at MP, though, as first-year head coach Dalton Schwetz takes over for longtime coach Brandon Carson, who stepped down after the 2021 season. Schwetz inherits a young team that is tasked with replacing most of its starters on both sides of the ball, including All-Area Player of the Year Dylan Carson. The Tomahawks are transitioning to a power spread offense this season after years of running the Slot-T. Schwetz and his staff are excited about a young and hungry offensive line that waited its turn behind a senior-laden group last season. MP returns its most experience on defense with three starters coming back, including two in a secondary that Schwetz also highlighted as an exciting group.


Oak Harbor’s Brody Synder is tackled during a game against Arlington on Sept. 10, 2021 in Arlington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Oak Harbor’s Brody Synder is tackled during a game against Arlington on Sept. 10, 2021 in Arlington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Last season: 4-6 overall, 2-4 league

Coach: Marcus Hughes (fourth season)

Offense: Spread

Defense: 4-3

Returning starters: 5 on offense, 5 on defense

Key players: Barrett Schmall, sr., RB/TE/LB; Trey Louis, sr., OL/DL; Brody Chowning, sr., WR/DE; Avi Salinger, sr., WR/DB; Cameron Reyes, sr., LB; Brody Snyder, jr., LB/RB; Daniel Blanco-Barajas, sr., OL/DL

Overview: Coach Marcus Hughes made the change from a Wing-T to a spread offense when he took over the Oak Harbor program in 2019. Now he has his first class of seniors who have spent all four years in his system. The Wildcats return five starters on each side of the ball. They’re tasked with replacing starting quarterback Kaito White and leading receiver Will Rankin, but return leading rusher Brody Snyder and their second and third leading receivers, Avi Salinger and Brody Chowning. Hughes said Oak Harbor will be young up front and at quarterback, and the defensive side of the ball is highlighted by a fast and physical group of linebackers. The former league power is in search of its first winning season since 2018.


Last season: 4-6 overall, 1-5 league

Coach: Davis Lura (12th season)

Offense: Flexbone

Defense: 4-3

Returning starters: 9 on offense, 8 on defense

Key players: Carter Schmidt, sr., QB/FS; Gio Santana, sr., OL/DL; Dylan Padilla, sr., SB/DB; Niko Senio, sr., OL/DL; Sean Ewald, jr., TE/OL; Marcus Milham, jr., WR/DB; Coen Ramsey, jr., SB/DB; Chase Randle, jr., FB/LB

Overview: The Chargers enter their 12th season as a program still in search of their first winning campaign. Marysville Getchell has reached the .500 mark four times over that span and could push for breaking past that barrier with the middle of the pack seeming to be wide open in Wesco 3A North. The Chargers bring back nine starters on offense after switching to a flexbone scheme last season. Carter Schmidt moves from slot back to quarterback after rushing for 560 yards in 2021. He’s surrounded by a number of returners at the skill positions. The defensive line and secondary figure to be the strengths of the defense with three starters returning from each group. Defense proved key for the Chargers in their wins last season, with the team going 4-0 when holding opponents to 14 points or less.


Last season: 2-7 overall, 0-6 league

Coach: Ken Alexander (second season)

Offense: Spread

Defense: 4-4

Returning starters: 8 on offense, 7 on defense

Key players: Devari Davis, sr., WR/DB; Dylan Rose, Sr., RB; Alexis Zendejas, sr., WR; Lucas Johnson, jr., OL/DL; Adrian Carrillo, jr., OL/DL; Quincy Gustafson, soph, OL/DL; Michael Johnson, soph., QB/WR

Overview: The Bulldogs started to build some momentum during their last two seasons in Wesco 4A, but it’s been a rough time for the team since the COVID-shortened spring season in 2021 began. Mount Vernon is 4-12 over the past two seasons, including a 2-8 (0-6 league) campaign in their first season in Wesco 3A North last fall. One thing the Bulldogs gained last year was plenty of experience. They return eight starters on offense and seven on defense after spending a full season under coach Ken Alexander, now in his second year. Mount Vernon brings back impact players at wide receiver and running back, and Alexander said he and his staff are excited to see the growth of the offensive and defensive lines after a good offseason.


Ryder Bumgarner, sr., RB/S/RS, Stanwood

Bumgarner starred on both sides of the ball while helping Stanwood break its 25-year state playoff drought last season. The 5-foot-9 playmaker was an All-Area selection on offense and defense, and is rated as a two-star recruit by Bumgarner rushed for 1,516 yards and 19 touchdowns last season, both team bests. He added 165 yards and two TDs receiving while also being a standout returner on special teams. On defense, Bumgarner had five interceptions and one touchdown.

Isaiah Carlson, sr., RB/DB, Ferndale

Carlson is a four-star prospect ranked as the sixth-best senior recruit in the state. He holds offers from Arizona, California, Montana, Nevada, Oregon State and Washington State. He racked up 789 yards and nine TDs on 105 offensive touches over seven games last season. Carlson is also one of the state’s top defensive players.

Landen Hatchett, sr., OL/DL, Ferndale

The 6-foot-3, 295-pound lineman leads a strong group in the trenches on both sides of the ball for the Wesco 3A North favorites. Hatchett, a University of Washington commit, is a three-star recruit ranked as the ninth-best senior prospect in the state. He also holds offers from the likes of Michigan, Oregon, Texas A&M and USC.

Carter Schmidt, sr., QB/FS, Marysville Getchell

Schmidt makes the transition to quarterback after a strong junior season playing slot back in the Chargers’ flexbone offense. He ran for 560 yards and four touchdowns last season, adding 64 yards on 11 receptions.

Wyatt Tilton, sr., OL/DL, Arlington

Arlington’s Wyatt Tilton (right) celebrates with a teammate during a game against Oak Harbor on Sept. 10, 2021 in Arlington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Arlington’s Wyatt Tilton (right) celebrates with a teammate during a game against Oak Harbor on Sept. 10, 2021 in Arlington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Tilton was a key contributor to a stout Arlington defense, often drawing double teams while compiling 37 tackles and two sacks last season. He’s one of three returning starters for the Eagles on defense. The 6-foot-1, 275-pound lineman is a two-star recruit.


Will Stanwood or Marysville Getchell breakthrough in their lopsided rivalries?

It’s been over a decade since the Stanwood football program has beaten rival Arlington and brought the Stilly Cup home. Marysville Getchell, which played its first season in 2011, has never beaten rival Marysville Pilchuck in the annual Berry Bowl bout. With Arlington and MP graduating almost all of their starters on offense and defense from last year’s state playoff teams, it appears the door is open for Stanwood and Getchell to finally breakthrough in their one-sided rivalries.

Stanwood has suffered 12 straight losses in the Stilly Cup, but there’s been plenty of close games during that span. Four of the past six meeting have been decided by one possession. Even last season’s 27-6 Arlington win was close until the Eagles pulled away in the second half. The Spartans have high expectations this year, and a win over their rival in Week 5 would further cement their turnaround.

Getchell has lost all 10 editions of its rivalry game with MP, and it hasn’t been close in most years with the Tomahawks winning nine of the matchups by 28 points or more. But there’s plenty of reason to believe this season’s installment of the Berry Bowl could be the most competitive yet and that the Chargers could reach a milestone by knocking off their crosstown rival. Getchell returns most of its starters on both sides of the ball, and the Tomahawks are in a bit of transitional year with a new head coach and nearly all of their 2021 starters graduating.

Who emerges from a crowded middle of the pack?

Ferndale and Stanwood enter the season as clear favorites for a one-two finish in Wesco 3A North. How the league shakes out behind those teams — and if anybody can truly challenge them — is a bit of mystery coming into the season.

Arlington finished third in the coaches poll and appears to be the favorite when it comes a dark horse candidate in the league. The Eagles have the track record to back it up, as they hold the second-best record in conference play (19-11) since 2016. And they’re defense, which returns two starters on the line and one at linebacker, is geared towards stopping the deceptive run-based offenses that the league’s top teams feature. Arlington surrendered just 12.7 points per game last season in contests against run-heavy teams Ferndale, Marysville Pilchuck and Stanwood. But many of the players that helped shutdown those schemes have graduated, and the Eagles face plenty of questions on offense with just two starters coming back.

MP could be considered a bit of a wild card as it breaks in a mostly new team with a new coach. Then, there’s a trio of teams that struggled last year but look to make a leap with much more experience returning. Marysville Getchell and Mount Vernon bring back the bulk of their starters on offense and defense, and Oak Harbor has five back on both sides.

It’ll be in intriguing to see how this league plays out three through seven.

Will the North continue to reign supreme?

For years now teams in Wesco 3A North have regularly gotten the best of their counterparts in Wesco 3A South in non-league matchups during the regular season and Week 9 crossover games. Teams from the North are 16-3 in crossover games against the South since they started in 2018, and teams from the North went 9-3 overall against the South in 2021. Those nine wins came by an average of 30.3 points per game, while two of the losses were by just one score.

Although, teams from the South had arguably their best Week 9 in recent years under the new crossover format while earning a 2-2 split last season. Monroe took down Ferndale in the No. 1 vs. No. 1 matchup and Snohomish beat Oak Harbor to give the league two wins against the North in crossovers for the first time.

There’s normally a few non-league games between teams from each division during the regular season, but the only one this season comes during Week 1 when Marysville Pilchuck and Edmonds-Woodway square off. So there won’t be much of a preview of what’s in store for Week 9 like there has been in past seasons.


Marysville Getchell at Marysville Pilchuck, Sept. 16

As mentioned before, Marysville Pilchuck has dominated the Berry Bowl rivalry game with wins in all 10 meetings. But this season looks like Marysville Getchell’s best opportunity to finally beat MP for the first time. Bragging rights in the city are on the line, and a Week 3 win would be a nice early-season boost for each team in what should be a wide-open middle of the pack in Wesco 3A North.

Stanwood at Arlington, Sept. 30

This Week 5 clash will hold plenty of intrigue as Stanwood looks to end its 12-game losing streak to rival Arlington. The Spartans have been oh-so-close to bringing the Stilly Cup home in recent years. A late fourth-quarter interception on a potential game-winning drive doomed Stanwood in 2016’s 28-26 loss. A blocked field goal as time expired allowed Arlington to hold on for a 28-27 win in 2017. Stanwood couldn’t get the stop it needed to get a chance to complete a late comeback attempt and send the game into overtime in a 21-13 loss in 2018. And the Spartans fell just short after rallying from a 10-0 deficit in a 17-14 loss during the COVID-shortened spring season in 2021. On the other side of the coin, a win for Arlington would put the Eagles right back in the league-title conversation.

Stanwood at Union, Oct. 7

The Spartans are in for a massive test when they make a trek down to Vancouver to take on 4A power Union at McKenzie Stadium for a non-league clash. The Titans made three straight state appearances from 2017-19, including knocking off Lake Stevens for the 4A state title in 2018. Stanwood made a major statement when it beat Lincoln-Tacoma in the Week 10 playoffs last season. This will be another chance for the Spartans make some noise at a statewide level.

Arlington at Marysville Pilchuck, Oct. 7

The clash between the Eagles and Tomahawks has been the marquee matchup between Wesco 3A North teams in Snohomish County over the past few seasons. With teams figure to be taking a step back after graduating the bulk of their starting lineups from state playoff runs in 2021, this should be a good litmus test for each program to see where it stands with new faces leading the way.

Ferndale at Stanwood, Oct. 21

Ferndale and Stanwood enter this season as the favorites to compete for the Wesco 3A North title, which means this Week 8 matchup that serves as the final conference game for each has de facto league championship game written all over it. This game perfectly fits the billing of a traditional power (Ferndale) taking on an upcoming team (Stanwood). It should also be a treat for lovers of smashmouth football with both teams featuring a run-heavy Wing-T offense.

Oak Harbor at Marysville Getchell, Oct. 21

Each of the past two games in this series have been decided by one touchdown, with Marysville Getchell winning 20-13 in 2019 and Oak Harbor claiming a 35-28 victory last season. Both times the winner of this game has gone on to claim Wesco 3A North’s fifth and final Week 9 crossover berth. This contest serves as the final league game for both squads, and it’s likely playoff positioning or a playoff berth will be at stake for each.

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