Last season: 4-6, 3-3 in conference play
Coach: John Gradwahl (24th season)
Key players: Reed Carr, sr, QB; Ben Grimes, sr., RB/LB; Tony Woo, sr., OL/DL; Christian Simpson, sr, TE/DE; Evan Graves, jr., DB; Ethan Davis, sr., OLB
Outlook: The Warriors are coming off their first losing season since at least 2003, but a late-season surge in 2018 showed steps in the right direction for a young team that gave up an uncharacteristically high 40.5 points per game while starting the season 0-4. Edmonds-Woodway rallied to win four of its last six games, and a controversial fumble call during a 41-35 overtime loss to Wesco 3A champion Snohomish may have been the difference between the Warriors sneaking into a Week 10 playoff game. The catalyst for the late-season run, standout running back Capassio Cherry, has graduated, and replacing the 2,000-yard rusher likely will be more than a one-man job. A non-conference battle with 2018 Class 4A semifinalist Woodinville certainly will be a tough test, and Week 2’s conference opener at Shorecrest gives Edmonds-Woodway a shot at a big early-season victory against a team that figures to be in contention for the conference title.
Last season: 1-8, 1-5 in conference play
Coach: Brien Elliot (first season)
Key players: Jeremy Reed, jr., RB/FS; Cody Bennett, jr., TE/SS; Maliquei Noland, soph., RB/LB/DB; Casen Taggert, jr., QB; Jemyre Reed, soph., WR/DB
Outlook: The Seagulls are looking to rebuild this year as Brien Elliot becomes their third head coach in the past three seasons. Everett earned its first postseason berth since 2010 with a seven-win 2017 season but took a big step back after graduating a large core of players. This year’s squad features plenty of underclassmen playing key roles, and results at the end of the season may be more telling about the direction the program is headed. A victory in the Battle of Broadway over rival Cascade in Week 1 would be a big momentum builder for a rebuilding program.
Last season: 0-10, 0-6 in conference play
Coach: Keauntea Bankhead (sixth season)
Key players: Zayne Alroebae, sr., WR/DB; Daniel Tran, sr., RB/DB; Zach Newson, soph., TE/LB; Tanner Fahey, jr., WR/DB; Sean Monan, jr., WR/DB; Nate Killen, sr., QB
Outlook: The Royals are coming off a winless 2018 campaign and expect to be rebuilding with a young team that features several sophomores and juniors. Lynnwood returns just five starters on offense and three on defense, but Bankhead said he’s “excited to see how we compete this year.” Bankhead expects his young talent to show progress week-to-week as the team is adjusting to some changes in its offensive scheme. The Royals are seeking their first conference win since 2016, which would be a solid step in the right direction for a program that’s lost 12 straight conference games. Keep an eye on junior wide receiver Tanner Fahey, who earned first-team all-conference honors in 2018 despite playing on an offense that averaged just 14.6 points per game.
Last season: 3-6, 3-3 in conference play
Coach: James Harmon (first season)
Key players: Hunter Moen, sr., QB; Alex Krueger, sr., OL/DL; Mason Vaughn, sr., WR/DB; Colton Walsh, sr., WR/DB; Caleb Monillas, sr., RB/LB; Ian Newsom, jr., RB/LB; Chauncey Gantt, jr., OL/DL; Tristan Ahlstedt, soph., RB/DB
Outlook: The Mavericks are entering their first year under head coach James Harmon, who took over the program after being the team’s defensive coordinator the past three seasons. Meadowdale is set to move to a more run-first offense after executing a spread attack under former coach Matt Leonard. The Mavericks’ offense, which ranked second in the league at 29.2 points per game, returns playmakers in quarterback Hunter Moen and receiver Mason Vaughn, with 6-foot-4, 290-pound senior Alex Krueger anchoring the offensive line. Meadowdale needs to see improvement from a defense that allowed 35.4 points per game and gave up 44 points or more four times. If the Mavs can sustain their offensive success and shore up their defense, matchups with Shorecrest and Snohomish to close the season could hold major implications in the league-title race.
Last season: 5-5, 4-2 in conference play (lost in week 10 playoffs)
Coach: Brandon Christensen (ninth season)
Key players: Markus Selzler, sr., RB/DE; Eladio Fountain, sr., QB; James Huffman, sr., OL/LB; Derreck Williams, sr., WR/S; Desmond Fox, jr., WR/S; Jaxon Taylor, jr., OLB; Marcus Tidwell, jr., RB/LB; Gavin Dalziel, jr., K/P
Outlook: Coming off a second straight 5-5 season, the Scots look primed to earn their first winning campaign since 2005 with a strong core of returners on both sides of the ball. Selzler, Huffman and Fox give Shorecrest all-conference returners at each level of its defense. Fountain, a second-team all-league selection, leads the offense, which scored 23 or more points in eight of 10 games last season. Shorecrest has the chance to win its first league title since 2005 and make a state-playoff appearance for the first time since 2006.
Last season: 5-5, 4-2 in conference play (lost in week 10 playoffs)
Coach: Brandon Torrey (fifth season)
Key players: Spencer Osborn, sr., WR/DB; David Lopes, sr., OL/DL; Kody Carpenter, sr., RB/DB; Dashawn Alexander, sr., WR/DB
Outlook: Last season was a breakthrough for the Thunderbirds. After playing an independent schedule in 2017, Shorewood won five of its first six games just two years removed from back-to-back winless seasons, beat rival Shorecrest for the first time since 2014 and came within one win of its first state-tournament berth since 1990. A repeat performance by the Thunderbirds is going to require quick development of several new players. Shorewood graduated 27 seniors off its 2018 roster. After opening the season with a non-conference title against Granite Falls, Shorewood steps straight into the meat of its conference schedule with consecutive games against Meadowdale, Snohomish and Shorecrest — all of which appear to be contenders for the conference title.
Last season: 8-3, 6-0 in conference play (lost in first round of state playoffs)
Coach: Joey Hammer (second season)
Key players: Tyler Larson, sr., RB/LB; Drew Stultz, jr., OL/DL; Brayden Ulrich, soph., TE/LB; Makai Williams, jr., WR/DB
Outlook: The Panthers earned their first state-tournament berth since 2007 and first conference title since 2002 behind a two-headed rushing attack and experienced offensive line that helped propel the offense to a league-best 39.3 points per game. The Panthers will have plenty of new faces on offense but still come into the season as league favorites. The Panthers allowed 35 or more points six times in 2018, including games of 63 and 66 points to bookend the season, so improvement on defense could take the team a long way as it breaks in four new starters on the offensive line around second-team all-league selection Drew Stultz. Snohomish opens the season with a chance to avenge a 63-34 loss to Marysville Pilchuck and a rivalry matchup with Glacier Peak, which has won all seven games between the two.