Stanwood’s Canyon Bumgarner reaches the ball in to the end zone during the Stilly Cup against Arlington on Sept. 30, 2022, in Arlington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Stanwood’s Canyon Bumgarner reaches the ball in to the end zone during the Stilly Cup against Arlington on Sept. 30, 2022, in Arlington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Wesco 3A North preview: Team capsules, coaches poll and more

The league figures to be stacked at the top with Arlington, Ferndale and Stanwood. Can another school break through?

COACHES POLL

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. Arlington (4) — 1.3

2. Ferndale (3) — 1.8

3. Stanwood — 2.3

4. Marysville Pilchuck — 3.5

5. Oak Harbor — 4.5

6. Mount Vernon — 4.7

7. Marysville Getchell — 5.5

NOTE: Coaches weren’t allowed to vote for their own teams. All coaches participated in the voting.

STANWOOD

Stanwood’s offensive line runs through hitting drills at practice on Aug. 18, 2023, in Stanwood. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Stanwood’s offensive line runs through hitting drills at practice on Aug. 18, 2023, in Stanwood. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Last season: 10-2, 5-1 in Wesco 3A North

Coach: Jeff Scoma (third season)

Offense: Wing-T

Defense: Multiple

Returning starters: 3 on offense, 4 on defense

Key players: Max Mayo, sr., S; Canyon Bumgarner, jr., S/RB; Memphys Ellis, soph., OL/DL; Quinn Ferguson; jr., OL/LB; Cruis Swanson, jr., RB/LB; Elijah Fleck, jr., OL/DL; Skyler McLain, jr., OL/DL; Elijah Walker, jr., OL/DL; Luke Brennan, jr., QB

Overview: Fresh off a state quarterfinal appearance and its first consecutive winning seasons in 40 years, Stanwood turns over a new leaf with a varsity unit that lost the majority of its starting group. Eyeing another deep postseason run, the Spartans will feature a junior-heavy squad with several important returners. Senior defensive back Max Mayo, who was a first team all-league pick in 2022, provides Stanwood with big playmaking ability. Third-year head coach Jeff Scoma said that his team will still have plenty of size on the offensive line, headlined by 300-pound sophomores Memphys Ellis and Jede Tuato’o. Luke Brennan, a third-year starting quarterback, will look to make a leap in his junior season with familiarity in Scoma’s Wing-T scheme.

ARLINGTON

Arlington’s Jacoby Falor throws the ball during a game against Marysville Getchell on Sept. 9, 2022, in Marysville. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Arlington’s Jacoby Falor throws the ball during a game against Marysville Getchell on Sept. 9, 2022, in Marysville. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Last season: 7-3 overall, 5-2 in Wesco 3A North

Coach: Greg Dailer (16th season)

Offense: Spread

Defense: 3-3 stack

Returning starters: 9 on offense, 7 on defense

Key players: Jacoby Falor, sr., WR/QB/DB; Jeremy Fleming, sr., DL/LB/OL; Nolan Welch, sr., OL/LB; Willem Van Dongen, sr., OL/DL; Parker Kinney, sr., OL/DL; Leyton Martin, jr., QB; Jake Willis, jr., WR/DB; Dylan Scott, jr., OL/DL

Overview: The Eagles look to make a postseason bid after falling short of a state playoff berth in 2022, losing 35-29 against Peninsula in a winner-to-state game. Following up on a 7-3 overall record, Arlington returns nearly all of its starters on both sides of the ball and seems primed to challenge other Wesco 3A North favorites Ferndale and Stanwood. Returning senior and multi-positional threat Jacoby Falor, along with junior quarterback Leyton Martin, figure to make an exciting offensive duo. Head coach Greg Dailer also returns four starting wide receivers from last year as well as three offensive linemen, including the 6-foot-5, 290-pound tackle Willem Van Dongen.

MARYSVILLE PILCHUCK

Marysville Pilchuck’s Kenai Sinaphet reaches out to try and cross into the end zone for a touchdown during a game against Maryville Getchell on Sept. 16, 2022, in Marysville. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Marysville Pilchuck’s Kenai Sinaphet reaches out to try and cross into the end zone for a touchdown during a game against Maryville Getchell on Sept. 16, 2022, in Marysville. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Last season: 5-5 overall, 4-3 in Wesco 3A North

Coach: Dalton Schwetz (second season)

Offense: 11 PSN Spread

Defense: 3-4 Attack Style

Returning starters: 7 on offense, 4 on defense

Key players: Luke Shoemaker, sr., QB; Joseph Davis, jr., RB/DB; Kenai Sinaphet, sr., LB/RB; Shane Nelson, sr., TE/DE; Cyrus Broers, jr., OL/DL; Avery Brennan, jr., OL/DL; Kori Deneal, jr., OL/DL; Tayden Olson, soph., OL/DL

Overview: The Tomahawks made an appearance in the 2022 Week 10 playoffs before getting bounced by Lincoln in a winner-to-state bout. Pilchuck saw some progress in league play last season, going 4-3 in the Wesco 3A North. Returning a strong junior class with backfield options and a more seasoned offensive line, some could consider the Tomahawks as a dark horse threat in the league race this season. Second-year head coach Dalton Schwetz said that returning two-way all-leaguers Kenai Sinaphet and Joseph Davis should provide stability in the run game, with the development of a young offensive line being one of the keys to success.

MARYSVILLE GETCHELL

Marysville Getchell players gang up for a tackle during a game against Arlington on Sept. 9, 2022, in Marysville. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Marysville Getchell players gang up for a tackle during a game against Arlington on Sept. 9, 2022, in Marysville. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Last season: 2-8 overall, 2-6 in Wesco 3A North

Coach: Davis Lura (13th season)

Offense: Wash Bone

Defense: 4-3

Returning starters: 6 on offense, 7 on defense

Key players: Arion ‘Bubba’ Palacol, jr., QB; Coen Ramsey, sr., RB/DB; Connor Reed, sr., OL/DL; Andrew Withers, sr., RB/LB; Shawn Ethridge, sr., WR/DB; Sean Ewald, sr., TE/DE; Ben Allestad, jr., TE/LB; Caleb Riba, jr., OL/DL

Overview: One of the three Wesco 3A North teams which finished 2-8 in 2022, the Chargers will look to prove they’re one of the ones to see improvement. Junior and honorable league mention Arion ‘Bubba’ Palacol will slot in as Getchell’s starting quarterback, taking over for the graduated Carter Schmidt. 13th-year coach Davis Lura mentioned the upside of unlocking Palacol as a throwing and running threat, as well as the potential of improved linebacker and secondary units.

FERNDALE

Ferndale’s Conner Walcker turns the corner and heads for the sideline against Stanwood on Oct. 21, 2022, at Stanwood. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Ferndale’s Conner Walcker turns the corner and heads for the sideline against Stanwood on Oct. 21, 2022, at Stanwood. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Last season: 9-3, 6-0 in Wesco 3A North

Coach: Jamie Plenkovich (20th season)

Offense: Wing-T

Defense: 4-3

Returning starters: 5 on offense, 5 on defense

Key players: Conner Walcker, sr., RB/DB; Camden Raymond, sr., OL/DL; Bishop Ootsey, sr., QB/DB; Phoenix Finkbonner, sr., RB/DE/K; Talan Bungard, jr., RB/LB; Kellan LaFave, sr., OL/DL

Overview: The Eagles owned the Wesco 3A North conference last season and will aim to remain on top in 2023 after a 9-win season. Ferndale reached the second round of the state playoffs last season before bowing out to Eastside Catholic. Returning a healthy mix of upperclassmen, 20th-year head coach Jamie Plenkovich said he’ll have an experienced bunch in the secondary. 275-pound senior left tackle Camden Raymond returns as a main pillar of the offensive line as the Eagles attempt to carve out another campaign for a league title.

OAK HARBOR

Last season: 2-8 overall, 2-5 in Wesco 3A North

Coach: Marcus Hughes (fifth season)

Offense: Multiple

Defense: 40 front

Returning starters: 5 on offense, 6 on defense

Key players: Brody Snyder, sr., RB/LB; Danny Willard, sr., TE/DE; Michael Johnson-Howard, sr., RB/LB; Aiden Finley, sr., RB/LB; Parker Anderson, sr., QB; Carson Lang, jr., RB/DB; Connor Cash, jr., RB/DB; Carlos Hernandez, jr., OL/DL

Overview: Coming off an underwhelming 2-8 campaign in 2022, the Wildcats look to improve on an offense that ranked last in the Wesco 3A North. Head coach Marcus Hughes, who is in his fifth season at the helm, will return some all-league talent on the roster, including senior Aiden Finley, who was second team all-league linebacker. Hughes said he expects a strong returning crew of senior running backs and linebackers to lean on.

MOUNT VERNON

Last season: 2-8 overall, 0-6 in Wesco 3A North

Coach: Jake Whitman (first season)

Offense: Spread

Defense: 3-3-5

Returning starters: 7 on offense, 7 on defense

Key players: Matt Diaz, sr., LB; Esai Ruiz, sr., RB; Darnell Allen, sr., WR; Dante Brunk, sr., WR; Lucas Johnson, sr., OL; Quinn Swanson, sr., WR/DB; Dalton Kurtz, sr., RB/DB; Michael Johnson Jr., QB/DB.

Overview: First-year head coach Jake Whitman takes over the reins for the Bulldogs as they look to make a jump in the wins column after a 2-8 season. Mount Vernon returns strong numbers on both sides of the ball, featuring a handful of athletes with big-play potential. Returning all-league two-sport star Quinn Swanson will be back, as well as junior quarterback Michael Johnson.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Max Mayo, sr., DB, Stanwood

Mayo was one of Stanwood’s best defensive weapons and a first-team all-league pick last fall. He had four interceptions, two fumble recoveries for a defense that allowed 18.1 points per game. He helped the Spartans reach the 3A state quarterfinal round, compiling a 10-2 record in 2022. He was also a second-team All-Area selection.

Jacoby Falor, sr., WR/QB/RB, Arlington

Three-way offensive talent Jacoby Falor finished last season with 2,191 all-purpose yards, helping the Eagles to a 7-3 mark. The first-team All-Area and first-team all-league pick tacked on 25 totals TDs, rushing for a team-high 651 yards while adding 313 yards as a receiver.

Leyton Martin, jr., QB, Arlington

Martin was a first-team all-league choice as a sophomore despite playing just four games due to injury. The 6-foot two-sport standout was also named first-team All-Wesco for basketball.

Arion ‘Bubba’ Palacol, jr., QB, Marysville Getchell

Palacol earned a league honorable mention as a secondary offensive source for the Chargers last season. The 5-11 junior is a speedy, multi-skilled athlete who could be leaned on heavily as an offensive focal point, following the departure of the graduated Carter Schmidt. Palacol was also a first-team all-league selection for basketball as a sophomore.

Joseph Davis, jr., RB/DB, Marysville Pilchuck

Davis was a second-team all-league running back last season and one of the area’s leading rushers, racking up 1,148 yards on the ground with 11 TDs, producing 8.3 yards per carry. He added seven catches for 169 yards, playing in seven full games due to injury.

Quinn Swanson, sr., DB, Mount Vernon

Swanson, a 6-foot-2, 185-pound corner, was a second-team all-league selection as a junior. The multi-sport star was also named The Skagit Valley Herald’s Boys Basketball Player of the Year in the winter.

Camden Raymond, sr., OL/DL, Ferndale

Raymond is a returning 6-foot-2, 275-pound two-way lineman. He was a second-team choice on the D-line, while being named to the first-team on the offensive side as Ferndale finished 9-2. He’s the only returning offensive first-team lineman in the Wesco 3A North.

Cyrus Broers, jr., OL/DL, Marysville Pilchuck

Broers was a second-team all-league offensive lineman last fall. The 6-foot-2, 285-pounder helped carry the Tomahawks O-line as Pilchuck reached the district playoffs, finishing with a 4-3 league record.

STORYLINES TO WATCH

Can Stanwood repeat success over the last two seasons?

With one of the highest varsity roster turnovers in the Wesco 3A North, Stanwood will have to mix in some fresh bodies into its new starting group as they look to stave off other league powerhouses Arlington and Ferndale as the season moves along. The Spartans are set to return a strong junior class with size on the frontlines, and depth in the skill positions.

The Spartans are coming off back-to-back trips to the state playoffs for the first time in 40 years and marched towards a quarterfinal appearance last fall. Third-year head coach Jeff Scoma is confident in the group’s ability to remain competitive this season, with several key returners being critical on both sides of the ball.

This will be the first major reloading test for the Spartans since emerging as a consistent threat in Wesco.

Will Marysville Pilchuck take the next step?

After finishing in the middle of the pack last season with a 5-5 overall record, Pilchuck was one win away from a playoff berth in 2022. Widely considered a Wesco 3A North underdog to the likes of Arlington, Stanwood and Ferndale, if a few more games turn in the Tomahawks favor, they could be in for a season as the league’s sleeper team.

In his second year at the helm, head coach Dalton Schwetz will have plenty of returning talent with knowledge of his system, particularly on offense as Pilchuck returns proven ball-carriers with a second-year starting quarterback in Luke Shoemaker.

How will Arlington stack up against the league powerhouses?

Arlington sits in one of the best positions it could ask for as the Eagles look to make another state playoff bid after falling a game shy of doing so last fall.

After finishing last season 7-3, injuries played a factor towards Arlington’s back half of the schedule. The Eagles shifty starting quarterback Leyton Martin went down in Week 4 with a wrist injury, forcing some of Arlington’s skill players to work overtime in his absence. With a fully healthy squad coming into camp, head coach Greg Dailer will start the year with a wide array of tools that could make for a potent offensive attack.

Defensively, Arlington sported a league-best 16.3 point allowed per game last season. If the Eagles returners can put together strong overall performances against league foes, they could be in for a deeper postseason run.

GAMES TO WATCH

Kamiak at Arlington, Sept. 1, 7 p.m.

Arlington will lace up against a 4A non-league opponent in Week 1 for what should be an entertaining matchup between two different classifications. With the Eagles high-powered offensive core, and the Knights ultimate tight end threat in T’Andre Waverly, it may end up being a high-octane shootout.

Ferndale at Lynden, Sept. 1, 7 p.m.

Ferndale’s season begins with perhaps its toughest test coming right out of the gates. Lynden went 13-0 last season and sawed through the 2A state playoffs, going on to claim the state title over North Kitsap. The matchup could serve as an early measuring stick for the Eagles season.

Marysville Pilchuck at Marysville Getchell, Sept. 15, 7 p.m.

Pilchuck is a flawless 11-0 in the annual ‘Berry Bowl’ against crosstown rival Getchell. Pilchuck has won each battle by at least 21 points, entering the third quarter of last year’s contest trailing 14-7 before ripping off 30 fourth-quarter points.

Ferndale at Arlington, Sept. 22, 7 p.m.

A high-caliber league matchup in the middle stages of the season. Arlington edged out Ferndale as the favorites in the coaches poll, but expect a hard-fought matchup that could have major league implications down the line.

Arlington at Stanwood, Sept. 29, 7 p.m.

For the first time since 2009, Stanwood claimed the ‘Stilly Cup’ victory over Arlington with a 37-6 rout. The yearly square-off figures to be closer this time around.

Union at Stanwood, Oct. 6, 7 p.m.

The Spartans will get a non-league game against a 4A opponent. After clubbing Union of Vancouver 69-47 a season ago, Stanwood will look to run it back on the Titans, who compete in the top-heavy 4A Greater St. Helens league.

Glacier Peak at Marysville Pilchuck, Oct. 13, 7 p.m.

A high-level test for Pilchuck, they’ll host the Grizzlies of the Wesco 4A league in what could be an important non-conference contest for both teams, depending on what the standings look like in the final weeks of the regular season. Both teams are aiming to nail down spots in the postseason.

Stanwood at Ferndale, Oct. 20, 7 p.m.

For two of the top teams in the league, a Stanwood-Ferndale bout in the final weeks of the season may be a game with a league title on the line.

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