Last season: 6-4, 6-1 in conference play (lost in district-crossover round)
Coach: John Gradwhol (22nd season)
Key players: Noah Becker, sr., RB/DB; Xavier Belcher, sr., OL/DL; Dominic Lawrence, sr., RB/LB; Tyler McAtee, sr., OL/DL; Aaron Richardson, sr., WR/DB; Bryan Sarnowski, sr., WR/DB
Outlook: The Warriors should remain a force on defense with three all-conference players returning from last year’s stingy unit, which allowed a league-low 14 points per game and led Edmonds-Woodway to the postseason. However, the graduation of Ali Gaye — now a member of the University of Washington football program — leaves a massive void on the defensive line.
Last season: 5-5, 3-4 in conference play
Coach: Doug Trainor (third season)
Key players: Christian Balmer, jr., RB/LB; Jaden Goodrich, sr., WR/DB; Tanner Hollenbeck, sr., OL/DL; Gabe Maggio, sr., QB/DB; Derek Tran, sr., OL/LB; Aldo Yeo, sr., RB/LB
Outlook: After the Seagulls suffered through three consecutive one-win seasons from 2013 to 2015, coach Doug Trainor guided Everett to back-to-back 5-5 campaigns in his first two years at the helm. The Seagulls took a pair of state-playoff teams to overtime last year, falling to Lynnwood and eventual state semifinalist Meadowdale. Everett returns 6-foot-4 senior receiver Elijah Ross-Rutter, who had 812 yards receiving and 10 touchdowns last fall. As the program aims to continue making strides, the Seagulls’ defense will look to cut down on the 33.5 points per game it surrendered last season.
Last season: 8-3, 5-2 in conference play (lost in first round of state playoffs)
Coach: Keauntea Bankhead (fourth season)
Key players: Connor Bjornson, jr., RB/LB; Nate Killen, soph., QB; Tommy Ni, sr., OL/DL; Daniel Tran, soph., RB/DB; Ryan Truong, sr., WR/LB
Outlook: Fourth-year coach Keauntea Bankhead has engineered an impressive turnaround at Lynnwood, transforming a program that won 15 games combined in the 15 seasons prior to his arrival. The Royals continued their rise last year, earning the program’s first state-playoff berth since 1995. But Lynnwood faces a major challenge this fall, as all six of its all-conference players from last season have graduated — including several two-way standouts. New stars need to emerge for the Royals to avoid taking a step back.
Last season: 10-3, 6-1 in conference play (lost in state semifinals)
Coach: Matt Leonard (third season)
Key players: Jashon Butler, sr., RB/DB; Jaxon Foltz, sr., TE/DB; Drew Harvey, sr., WR/LB; Jayden Jackson, sr., WR/DB; Matthew Johnson, sr., RB/LB; Jeremiah Ku, sr., TE/DL; Eric Lee, sr., OL/DL; Alex Maxwell, jr., OL/DL; Will Moloney, sr., TE/LB; Will Schafer, sr., WR/DB/K
Outlook: Coming off a dramatic postseason run that resulted in the program’s first-ever state-semifinal appearance, Meadowdale is tasked with replacing a bevy of offensive starpower after losing quarterback Drew Tingstad, running back Kela Marshall, receiver Haelin Roberts and pass-catching tight end Zach Plummer. Speedy senior running back Jashon Butler, who rushed for 756 yards in nine games last season, takes over as the featured back for a Mavericks team that’s looking to build on last year’s historic campaign. Experience should benefit Meadowdale both on the offensive line and on defense, where all 11 projected starters are seniors.
MOUNTLAKE TERRACE HAWKS
Last season: 3-7, 2-5 in conference play
Coach: Kelly Dougan (third season)
Key players: Brandon Bach, jr., WR/RB/DB/K/P; Keegan Grayson, sr., WR/RB/DB; Dominique Latham, jr., WR/DB; Jesse Martineau, jr., QB; Alex Paluck, jr., OL/DL; Michael Phu, sr., OL/DL; JaBrae Richardson, jr., RB/LB
Outlook: The Hawks experienced a downturn the past two seasons after reaching the Class 3A state playoffs in 2014. Mountlake Terrace’s only two conference wins last year came against perennial cellar dwellers Shorecrest and Shorewood. After losing their other five league games last season by 19 points or more, the Hawks will look to be more competitive this fall.
Last season: 3-7, 1-6 in conference play
Coach: Brandon Christensen (seventh season)
Key players: Rico Dellaguardia, sr., WR/DB; Eladio Fountain, soph., QB; Jackson Jones, sr., OL; Max Long, sr., OL/DL; Gabe Reyes, jr., OL/DL; David Selzler, sr., WR/DB
Outlook: The Scots have won just two league games in the past three seasons, with both of those victories coming over the struggling Shorewood program. Shorecrest lost its other six league games last year by 15 points or more.
Last season: 1-9, 0-7 in conference play
Coach: Brandon Torrey (third season)
Key players: Skyler Hammer, jr., QB; Brandon Main, jr., RB/LB; Andre Martin, sr., WR/DB; Joseph Williamson, jr., WR/CB; Tres Zeigler, jr., OL/LB
Outlook: The Thunderbirds are playing an independent schedule this fall as they look to build up their long-struggling program. Shorewood went winless in the Wesco 3A South each of the past two seasons, losing by 38.1 points per game in league play last year.
Last season: 7-4, 5-2 in conference play (lost in district-crossover round)
Coach: Kai Smalley (fifth season)
Key players: Carter Cole, jr., OL/DL; Jackson Harris, sr., TE/DL; Ethan Lewis, sr., WR/LB; Tyler Massena, jr., WR/LB; Keegan Stich, sr., RB/LB
Outlook: Snohomish has experienced a resurgence under fifth-year coach Kai Smalley, who last season guided the Panthers to their first winning campaign since 2008. Snohomish came within a few plays of winning the Wesco 3A South title, with its two league losses coming by a combined six points. The Panthers lost the star duo of quarterback Brandon Jodock and receiver Josh Johnston from last season’s high-powered offense that averaged a league-best 45.4 points per game. But returning is standout senior running back Keegan Stich, who led the area in rushing last year with 2,095 yards and 29 touchdowns.