Tony McDaniel and Glacier Peak look to continue their recent success despite graduating numerous key players. (Katie Webber / The Herald)

Tony McDaniel and Glacier Peak look to continue their recent success despite graduating numerous key players. (Katie Webber / The Herald)

Wesco 4A prep football preview: Team capsules

The key players and outlooks for all eight teams in the conference.

CASCADE BRUINS

Davanta Murphy-McMillan returns to lead Cascade’s Wing-T attack after rushing for more than 1,000 yards last season. (Katie Webber / The Herald)

Davanta Murphy-McMillan returns to lead Cascade’s Wing-T attack after rushing for more than 1,000 yards last season. (Katie Webber / The Herald)

Last season: 2-8 overall, 1-6 conference

Coach: Jordan Sieh (2nd season)

Key players: Luis Del Moral, jr., OG/DT; Daniel Eriksson, jr., RB/LB; Miles Fabre, jr., OT/DE; Davanta Murphy-McMillan, sr., RB/DB; Michael Purl, jr., RB/DB

Schedule

Outlook: After a two-win campaign last year, the Bruins look to make strides in Sieh’s second season at the helm. Murphy-McMillan, coming off a 1,000-yard rushing campaign, returns to lead Cascade’s Wing-T attack. A major key for the Bruins will be whether they can shore up their defense after allowing a league-worst 45.3 points per game in conference play last year.

GLACIER PEAK GRIZZLIES

Last season: 8-2 overall, 6-1 conference (lost in Week 10 playoffs)

Coach: Nick Bender (4th season)

Key players: Jacob Anderson, sr., OL/DL; Ryan Black, jr., RB/LB; Mason Bridges, sr., OL/DL; Jadon Claps, soph., QB/DB; Tony McDaniel, sr., OL/DL; Patrick McKenzie, jr., WR; Trevor Meldrom, jr., WR/DB; Dylan Owen, sr., RB/LB

Schedule

Outlook: The Grizzlies gave Lake Stevens a rare wire-to-wire conference test in last year’s matchup and finished second in Wesco 4A, which was their best league finish since moving up a classification in 2016. But the Grizzlies will look quite different this season after graduating eight all-conference players, including a trio of game-changers in four-year starting quarterback Ayden Ziomas, two-way star lineman Ma’ake Fifita and standout receiver/linebacker Evan Mannes. Returning all-conference players Meldrom and McDaniel will look to continue Glacier Peak’s success on defense, after the Grizzlies allowed just 13.6 points per game in league play last season.

JACKSON TIMBERWOLVES

First-year Jackson Mason Siddick gathers the Timberwolves into a huddle during their season-opening practice. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

First-year Jackson Mason Siddick gathers the Timberwolves into a huddle during their season-opening practice. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Last season: 4-6 overall, 2-5 conference

Coach: Mason Siddick (1st season)

Key players: Exavier Bonifacio, sr., TE/MLB; Ethan Chapman, sr., OG/DE; Nathan Clark, jr., QB; Garrett Holden, sr., WR/SS; Latrell Joseph, jr., WR/CB; Kenan Quill, jr., WR/FS; Allan Tran, sr., OT/DT; Roman Vicente, sr., WR/CB

Schedule

Outlook: It’s a brand-new era for the Timberwolves under Siddick, who replaced Joel Vincent this spring after the longtime Jackson head coach stepped down last November following 21 seasons at the helm. Joining Siddick is an almost entirely brand-new coaching staff, which will look to turn around a program that hasn’t finished with a winning record in conference play since 2012. Siddick, a former standout defensive lineman and assistant coach at Carroll College in Montana, also takes over as the Timberwolves’ defensive coordinator, where he aims to shore up a unit that allowed 33.4 points per game in Wesco 4A play last season. Jackson graduated six all-conference players but returns its leading pass-catcher in Holden, who had 708 yards receiving, four touchdown catches and four touchdown runs last season.

KAMIAK KNIGHTS

Last season: 1-8 overall, 1-6 conference

Coach: Bryant Thomas (2nd season)

Key players: Wesley Garrett, soph., WR; Mark Holcomb, soph., DL; Dylan James, soph., DB/KR; Jonak Varela, jr., LB; Cayden Wotipka, soph., OL

Schedule

Outlook: After going winless in conference play in 2017, the Knights beat Cascade last year to snap a 10-game Wesco 4A losing streak. Kamiak returns seven starters on offense and nine on defense for Thomas’ second season at the helm, but the Knights are still relatively young. Kamiak will look to improve offensively after being held to 14 points or less in every game last year.

LAKE STEVENS VIKINGS

Tanner Jellison is expected to take over at quarterback for the reigning 4A state runner-up Vikings. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Tanner Jellison is expected to take over at quarterback for the reigning 4A state runner-up Vikings. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Last season: 13-1 overall, 7-0 conference (lost in state title game)

Coach: Tom Tri (15th season)

Key players: Logan Bruce, sr., OL/DL; Joe Gonzales, sr., WR/DB; Wyatt Hall, sr., OL/DL; Tanner Jellison, jr., QB; Kasen Kinchen, sr., WR/DB; Devin Kylany, sr., OL/DL; Dallas Landeros, sr., RB; Austyn Rembold-Hyde, sr., OL/DL; Skyler Reyna, sr., WR/DB; Junior Robinson, sr., LB

Schedule

Outlook: After returning a bevy of talent from last year’s Class 4A state runner-up team, the perennial powerhouse Vikings are eyeing another deep playoff run. Headlining the six-time defending Wesco 4A champions are several Division-I college recruits: two-way standout cornerback Kinchen, safety Gonzales and 6-foot-5, 300-pound left guard Bruce. Washington State-bound left tackle Kylany is recovering from a torn ACL, but a potential late-season return from injury could team him with Bruce and four-year starting center Hall to give Lake Stevens four returning starters from last year’s dominant offensive line. Kinchen intercepted seven passes last season and leads a deep and talented receiving corps, while Jellison is set to replace graduated standout Tre Long at quarterback. The Vikings have won 38 consecutive Wesco 4A games, dating back to 2013.

MARINER MARAUDERS

After struggling the past two seasons, Mariner is looking to bounce back. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

After struggling the past two seasons, Mariner is looking to bounce back. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Last season: 2-7 overall, 2-5 conference

Coach: Mark Stewart (5th season)

Key players: Joseph Adee, sr., LB; Jackson Cole, jr., QB; Lamin Jallow, sr., DL/RB; Josh Jarosik, sr., OL; Josiah Pesterkoff, sr., RB; Roman Savchuk, sr., WR

Schedule

Outlook: After capping three consecutive postseason appearances with a state-playoff trip in 2016, the Marauders have totaled just five wins in the past two seasons combined. With the return of several key offensive players, Mariner looks to improve on that side of the ball after managing at least 15 points just four times last year. The Marauders are led by two-way standout Savchuck, who led Mariner in receiving last season with 676 yards and six touchdowns. The Marauders also return 240-pound leading rusher Pesterkoff and dual-threat quarterback Cole, who led Mariner to victories in two of his three starts last year.

MONROE BEARCATS

Eastern Washington University commit Efton Chism III highlights a Monroe offense that’s loaded with potential. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Eastern Washington University commit Efton Chism III highlights a Monroe offense that’s loaded with potential. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Last season: 4-6 overall, 4-3 conference (lost in Week 10 playoffs)

Coach: Michael Bumpus (5th season)

Key players: Efton Chism III, sr., WR/DB; David Erickson, sr., OL/DL; Gio Fregoso, sr., QB; Trey Lane, jr., WR/DB; J.R. Little, sr., WR/DB; Blake Rybar, sr., RB/LB; Connor Wood, sr., OL/DL

Schedule

Outlook: After capping back-to-back state-playoff appearances with their first-ever state-quarterfinal berth in 2017, the Bearcats took a step back last season while battling youth, inexperience and a challenging schedule. But with the vast majority of its roster returning, Monroe appears primed for a bounceback year. The Bearcats bring back plenty of key pieces from an offense that averaged almost 40 points per game in conference play last season, including Eastern Washington-bound all-purpose standout Chism III, who leads a potentially dynamic receiving corps. Also back is second-year starting quarterback Fregoso, running back Rybar and two starting offensive linemen who missed nearly all of last season with injuries. On the other side of the ball, Monroe looks to improve under new defensive coordinator Zach Nelson after allowing at least 35 points in six of its 10 games last year.

MOUNT VERNON BULLDOGS

Carlos Garcia is one of the few returning standouts for a Mount Vernon team that graduated numerous key players from last year’s state-playoff squad. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Carlos Garcia is one of the few returning standouts for a Mount Vernon team that graduated numerous key players from last year’s state-playoff squad. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Last season: 8-3 overall, 5-2 conference (lost in state opening round)

Coach: Nic Vasilchek (3rd season)

Key players: Dylan Carter, sr., WR/CB; Miguel Castro, sr., RB/LB; Carlos Garcia, sr., WR/S; Skyler Jensen, sr., QB; Van Stroosma, jr., TE/DE

Schedule

Outlook: The Bulldogs have undergone a massive turnaround under Vasilchek, who took over the program in 2017 as it was coming off back-to-back winless campaigns. In just two years, Vasilchek transformed Mount Vernon into a state-playoff team, guiding last year’s senior-laden squad to the program’s first state berth since 2007. The Bulldogs nearly knocked off Mount Si in the opening round, falling 39-38. The challenge now is to replace a slew of graduated talent, including eight all-conference players. One of the team’s few returning starters is Garcia, who led Mount Vernon in receiving last season with 708 yards and 11 touchdowns.

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