Snohomish has won at least a share of the past three Wesco 3A South titles, including a three-way split of the league crown with Monroe and Edmonds-Woodway last season. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Snohomish has won at least a share of the past three Wesco 3A South titles, including a three-way split of the league crown with Monroe and Edmonds-Woodway last season. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

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

Led by its dangerous offense, Monroe is the league favorite. Snohomish and Edmonds-Woodway are also in the mix.


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. Monroe (6) — 1.0

2. Snohomish — 2.2

3. Edmonds-Woodway (1) — 2.3

4. Shorecrest — 4.0

T-5. Lynnwood — 4.7

T-5. Mountlake Terrace — 4.7

7. Shorewood — 5.7

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


Blake Springer and the Bearcats are the Wesco 3A South favorites. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Blake Springer and the Bearcats are the Wesco 3A South favorites. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Last season: 6-4 overall, 4-1 Wesco 3A South; advanced to 3A winner-to-state round

Coach: Scott Darrow (3rd season)

Offense: Spread

Defense: Multiple

Returning starters: 8 on offense, 8 on defense

Key players: Blake Springer, jr., QB; Beau Pruett, soph., RB/S; Kody Edelbrock, sr., WR/OLB; Trent Bublitz, sr., WR; Eli Miller, sr.,WR/S; Rylan Hampton, sr., OL; Palepoi Notoa, jr., LB; Noah Berry, sr., LB

Overview: The Bearcats made a strong Class 3A debut last season, earning a three-way share of the Wesco 3A South title and then beating Ferndale in the Wesco 3A championship game. And with 16 returning starters, they’re in prime position for more success as the Wesco 3A South favorites this fall. They’ll lean on what’s expected to be a high-octane spread offense, led by talented three-star junior quarterback Blake Springer. He’s surrounded by an array of skilled playmakers, including speedy sophomore running back Beau Pruett and the senior receiving trio of Kody Edelbrock, Trent Bublitz and Eli Miller. The receiving corps has big shoes to fill after the graduation of two-way standouts Cole Pruett and Wahi Emmsley, but coach Scott Darrow believes this year’s unit could be just as good. There also are a pair of massive all-league offensive linemen to replace in Griffin Montana and Connor Owens. But three-year starting senior center Rylan Hampton returns up front, leading a group of linemen who each got at least some experience last year while the unit battled through injuries. On defense, Monroe will be anchored by a pair of returning all-league linebackers in junior Palepoi Notoa and senior Noah Berry.


Last season: 5-4 overall, 4-1 Wesco 3A South; advanced to 3A winner-to-state round

Coach: Joey Hammer (5th season)

Offense: Spread

Defense: 3-4

Returning starters: 6 on offense, 6 on defense

Key players: Kale Hammer, sr., QB, Snohomish; Kaden Alexander, sr., RB/LB; Kyle Larson, sr., RB/LB; Mason Orgill, sr., WR/LB; Wyatt Doran, sr., WR/DB; Miles Lamb, sr., WR/DB; Parker Jackson, soph., WR/DB; Cole Taylor, sr., WR/DB; Payton Clarke, sr., OL/DL; Maximus MacDicken, sr., DE

Overview: The Panthers have won at least a share of three consecutive Wesco 3A South titles, with outright league championships in 2018 and 2019 followed by a three-way split of the league crown last season. Snohomish is 15-2 in conference play over that span, with the two losses coming by a combined three points. The Panthers have several big impact players to replace in standout running back Joshua Vandergriend, star linebacker Brayden Ulrich and two-way all-league linemen Lane Watkins and Manny Flores. But with just over half of their starters coming back on each side of the ball, Snohomish is expected to be in the league title mix once again. Strong-armed senior Kale Hammer — a Gonzaga baseball commit and standout pitcher on the diamond — returns for his second season as the starting quarterback. Other all-league returners include senior receiver Mason Orgill and senior linebacker Kaden Alexander.


Last season: 4-4 overall, 3-1 Wesco 3A South; advanced to 3A winner-to-state round

Coach: John Gradwohl (27th season)

Offense: Multiple

Defense: Odd

Returning starters: 2 on offense, 2 on defense

Key players: Steven Warren, jr., QB; Aidan Davis, sr., RB/LB; Liam Fitting, sr., RB/LB; Madx Steffen, sr., OL/DL; Reed Burmaster, sr., OL/DL

Overview: The Warriors claimed a three-way share of the Wesco 3A South title last season and nearly reached the state playoffs, falling to Peninsula in a tightly contested Week 10 playoff loss. But nearly all of their key contributors from last year are gone, with just two returning starters on each side of the ball. They graduated nine of their 11 all-league selections, including standout running back Aaron Barraza and standout defensive lineman Treasure Jordan. And on offense, they graduated more than 95% of their total yardage. However, it’d be unwise to count out Edmonds-Woodway. The Warriors always seem to be in the mix under longtime coach John Gradwohl, whose program has experienced only one losing season in the past 18 years.


Last season: 3-7 overall, 1-4 Wesco 3A South

Coach: Brandon Christensen (13th season)

Offense: Pro-style/spread

Defense: 3-4 flex

Returning starters: 4 on offense, 4 on defense

Key players: Jaylen Viars, soph., QB; Memphis Dietz, sr., WR/DB; Andre Lasconia, sr., WR/DB; Gus Hamilton, jr., TE/S; Elijah Glesener, jr., OL/DL; Jacob Smith, sr., OL/DL

Overview: The Scots had a breakthrough seven-win campaign in 2019 and went 4-1 during the COVID-shortened 2021 spring season. But after graduating a slew of talent from that group, Shorecrest fell to 3-7 last fall. And with another wave of graduations after last season, it doesn’t get any easier for the Scots. They bid farewell to all seven of their offensive and defensive all-league selections from last year, including two-year starting quarterback Carson Christensen and 1,000-yard receiver Connor Dow. This year’s team is incredibly young, with just 11 seniors on their roster. There’s athleticism and potential along the offensive line, whose development will be crucial with a sophomore first-year starter at quarterback. At receiver, seniors Andre Lasconia and Memphis Dietz step into larger roles and look to provide playmaking sparks.


Last season: 4-5 overall, 3-2 Wesco 3A South

Coach: Keauntea Bankhead (9th season)

Offense: Spread

Defense: 4-3

Returning starters: 3 on offense, 4 on defense

Key players: Ray Siharath, soph., QB; Nate Williams, soph., RB/LB; Jordan Whittle, sr., WR/DB; Trent Whitehead, sr., WR/LB; Myles Golston, sr., OL/DL; Victor Sanchez Hernandez, soph., OL/DL

Overview: After breaking a 21-year state playoff drought in 2016, the Royals plummeted to a 1-19 mark over the next two seasons. But Lynnwood has improved since then, going 4-6 in 2019 and 4-5 last fall. With just seven returning starters, this year’s team is young. The Royals have sophomore starters at both quarterback and running back. But coach Keauntea Bankhead is excited about his team’s offensive and defensive lines, which he said should allow them to compete better up front.


Last season: 1-7 overall, 1-3 Wesco 3A South

Coach: Archie Malloy (2nd season)

Offense: Pro-style

Defense: 4-2-5

Returning starters: 6 on offense, 7 on defense

Key players: Matthew Meadows, jr., QB/LB; Zaveon Jones, jr., RB/LB; Nahom Ezra, jr., RB/LB; Bede Bresee, jr., RB/TE/LB; Tyler Shankle, jr., WR/DB; Logan Tews, jr., WR/DB; Trevor Coble, jr., OL/DL; Logan Hansen, jr., OL/DL

Overview: After spending 2018 and 2019 in the Northwest 2A Lake Division, the Hawks rejoined the Wesco 3A South last year. They struggled through a one-win campaign, averaging just 8.6 points per game. But with 13 returning starters, this youth-laden group looks to make strides in coach Archie Malloy’s second season at the helm. Malloy said he’s most excited about his offensive line, which should be improved after a year to jell. Two-way junior Zaveon Jones returns as a punishing 230-pound running back and an impact player at linebacker, where Malloy said he’ll be surrounded by some raw talent.


Last season: 1-9 overall (independent)

Coach: Rob Petschl (2nd season)

Offense: Multiple

Defense: 4-3

Returning starters: 7 on offense, 6 on defense

Key players: Rory Swanson, sr., QB/OLB; Eduardo Eulogio, sr., RB/MLB; Grant Harley, sr., RB/OLB; Isaac Van Horn, sr., WR/S/K; Reid Petschl, jr., TE/OLB; Hunter Tibodeau, sr., OL/MLB; Milan Johnson, sr., OL/DL; Anthony Reyes, soph., OL/DL

Overview: The Stormrays return to the Wesco 3A South after playing an independent schedule last year. They struggled through a one-win campaign during the competitively balanced slate, averaging just 13.3 points per game. It was yet another tough year for Shorewood, which has surpassed three wins only once in at least the past 18 seasons. But with 13 returning starters, the Stormrays look to take a step forward this fall under second-year coach Rob Petschl. They bring back their top two running backs in seniors Eduardo Eulogio and Grant Harley. They have a pair of 280-pound linemen in senior Milan Johnson and sophomore Anthony Reyes. And at linebacker, they feature a pair of returning all-leaguers in senior Hunter Tibodeau and junior Reid Petschl.


Could Monroe be embarking on a run of league titles?

With talented underclassmen such as running back Beau Pruett, are the Bearcats set up for a run of league supremacy? (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

With talented underclassmen such as running back Beau Pruett, are the Bearcats set up for a run of league supremacy? (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Back when the Bearcats were in Wesco 4A, they consistently played second fiddle to perennial state powerhouse Lake Stevens. Monroe was the Wesco 4A runner-up four times in a five-year span from 2015 through 2019, finishing behind the juggernaut Vikings each time. Even the Bearcats’ 2016 and 2017 state playoff squads — who were among the best teams in program history — couldn’t get past mighty Lake Stevens in Wesco 4A.

So when Monroe moved down to 3A last season, it offered the Bearcats a prime opportunity to accomplish something that had eluded them for decades — winning a league title. They didn’t waste any time. Monroe went 4-1 in conference play last year and earned a share of the Wesco 3A South crown, finishing in a three-way tie for first place with Snohomish and Edmonds-Woodway. Wesco’s preseason numerical draw then awarded the Bearcats a spot in the Wesco 3A championship game, where they went on to beat Ferndale 29-27.

For Monroe, it’s possible that last year could end up kickstarting a run of Wesco 3A South supremacy. This fall, the Bearcats are the clear-cut favorite in the league’s preseason coaches poll — and it’s easy to see why. They return one of the state’s top quarterbacks in three-star junior recruit Blake Springer, and he’ll be surrounded by an array of playmaking weapons in what’s expected to be an explosive spread attack. And though it can be foolish to look too far ahead, Springer and several of Monroe’s other top players are underclassmen. So, it’s quite possible the Bearcats could enter next fall as the league favorite too.

Of course, perennially strong Snohomish and Edmonds-Woodway should have plenty of say in whether Monroe can rattle off a stretch of league championships. But with the Bearcats finally free from Lake Stevens’ reign, the chance appears to be there for Monroe.

Can Snohomish prove it still reigns supreme?

While Monroe is looking to string together a run of league titles, Snohomish is already in the midst of one. The Panthers have claimed at least a share of the past three Wesco 3A South crowns, with outright league titles in 2018 and 2019 followed by last year’s three-way split of the league championship.

Snohomish is 15-2 in conference play during its three-year Wesco 3A South title streak — and oh-so-close to being a perfect 17-0. The Panthers’ two league losses over that span were a last-minute 36-35 defeat to Shorecrest in 2019 and a 42-40 overtime heartbreaker to Monroe last fall. If Snohomish hadn’t blown a 19-0 lead in last year’s loss to Monroe, the Panthers would’ve won all three league titles outright.

Snohomish should have a legitimate chance at another Wesco 3A South crown this fall, with the Panthers holding an apparent edge over Edmonds-Woodway as the top challenger to league favorite Monroe. Snohomish returns more than half of its starters — including several impact players at key positions — while Edmonds-Woodway graduated nearly its entire starting lineup.

If things go according to chalk, the Wesco 3A South would come down to the Oct. 21 regular-season finale between Monroe and Snohomish. And what a scenario that would be. It’s already a must-see rivalry showdown, coming on the heels of last year’s overtime thriller. But if a league title is at stake, it becomes even that much more intriguing. It’d be a classic battle between a Monroe progam seeking to establish itself as the league’s top dog, and a Snohomish program looking to prove it still reigns supreme.

Which team(s) can take a step forward?

The three defending Wesco 3A South co-champions — Monroe, Snohomish and Edmonds-Woodway — dominated the rest of the league last season. And this fall, they’re expected to be the top three teams again. But outside of that trio, which of the other Wesco 3A South teams can make strides and build toward a more competitive future?

Shorecrest is extremely young, with a lot of sophomores and juniors who will get valuable game experience. Lynnwood is in a similar position, with just seven returning starters and a trio of sophomores among their top players. And at Mountlake Terrace and Shorewood, a pair of second-year coaches are still in the early stages of trying to engineer program turnarounds.

None of these four teams are expected to be in the league-title mix this season. But nevertheless, it’ll be interesting to see which programs can take a step forward.


Monroe’s Blake Springer is the No. 62-ranked junior quarterback recruit in the nation. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Monroe’s Blake Springer is the No. 62-ranked junior quarterback recruit in the nation. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Kaden Alexander, sr., LB/RB, Snohomish

Alexander is a force at linebacker for the Panthers. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound senior posted nine tackles for loss and six sacks last season.

Kody Edelbrock, sr., WR/LB, Monroe

After starting at running back last season, Edelbrock has moved to slot receiver in the Bearcats’ spread attack. The versatile senior totaled 595 yards rushing, 225 yards receiving and 10 offensive touchdowns last year. He also can play a variety of positions on defense and is described by coach Scott Darrow as the team’s “most dynamic athlete.”

Kale Hammer, sr., QB, Snohomish

Hammer returns for his second season as the Panthers’ starting quarterback. Last year, the lefty senior completed 59.8% of his passes for 1,308 yards, 12 TDs and six interceptions. The Gonzaga-bound star pitcher had a dominant season on the mound for Snohomish’s baseball team this past spring.

Zaveon Jones, jr., RB/LB, Mountlake Terrace

The 6-foot-2, 230-pound Jones is an impact player on both sides of the ball. He rushed for 742 yards and six TDs at running back last season, while adding four tackles for loss and two forced fumbles at linebacker. He’s also a star basketball player, who helped lead the Hawks to a sixth-place state trophy this past winter.

Beau Pruett, soph., RB/S, Monroe

Pruett takes over at starting running back for the Bearcats and could be primed for a breakout season in a high-powered offense. The speedy sophomore is the younger brother of Cole Pruett, a do-everything star for Monroe last year who is now on the Washington State football team.

Blake Springer, jr., QB, Monroe

Springer is a talented three-star quarterback, ranked by 247Sports as the No. 3 junior QB recruit in the state and the No. 62 junior QB recruit in the nation. While sharing the quarterback duties last year, he completed 62.7% of his passes for 1,750 yards, 18 TDs and eight interceptions. The strong-armed passer now has the keys to Monroe’s offense and is primed for a big season in the Bearcats’ aerial attack.


The Wesco 3A South title could very well come down to the Oct. 21 regular-season finale between Monroe and Snohomish. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

The Wesco 3A South title could very well come down to the Oct. 21 regular-season finale between Monroe and Snohomish. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Snohomish vs. Glacier Peak, Sept. 2

Snohomish has a massive non-league test right out of the gate when it faces potential 4A state title contender Glacier Peak in the annual crosstown rivalry game at Veterans Memorial Stadium. The Grizzlies have won all 10 matchups since these programs began playing in 2012, including a 35-19 victory last fall.

Monroe at Kamiak, Sept. 16

The Bearcats square off against former Wesco 4A rival Kamiak in an intriguing non-league clash. The Knights have experienced a massive turnaround in recent years and are expected to contend for a 4A state playoff spot.

Edmonds-Woodway at Snohomish, Sept. 23

This is the first of three pivotal Wesco 3A South clashes that pit the league’s projected top three teams against each other. Snohomish has won each of the past three matchups between these teams, including a 21-14 win last season

Monroe at Edmonds-Woodway, Oct. 14

Wesco 3A South favorite Monroe faces Edmonds-Woodway in the first of back-to-back road games against likely its top two challengers for the league title. The Warriors prevailed for a back-and-forth 33-28 win in last year’s matchup.

Monroe at Snohomish, Oct. 21

This regular-season finale could very well determine the Wesco 3A South title. It’s a rematch of last year’s riveting back-and-forth thriller, which Monroe won 42-40 in overtime after rallying from a 19-0 first-half deficit.

Shorecrest vs. Shorewood, Oct. 21

The Scots and Stormrays square off in the annual Rotary Cup game at Shoreline Stadium. Shorecrest has won six of the past seven matchups against its crosstown rival, including a 41-21 victory last season.

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