Last season: 3-7, 1-6 in conference play
Coach: Shane Keck (third season)
Key players: Blake Beard, sr., OL/DL; Brett Gillis, sr., QB/DB; Isiah Najera, sr., OL/DL; Marc Phillips, sr., OL/LB; Sean Sibley, sr., WR/DB; Dakota Talt, sr., OL/LB; C.J. Wade, sr., TE/LB
Outlook: After reaching the state playoffs in 2013, the Bruins have gone 1-6 in conference play each of the last three seasons. Cascade graduated all four of its all-conference players from last year.
GLACIER PEAK GRIZZLIES
Last season: 5-5, 4-3 in conference play (lost in district-crossover round)
Coach: Nick Bender (second season)
Key players: Bo Burns, sr., WR/DB; Josh Erling, sr., LB; Ma’ake Fifita, jr., OL/DL; Ankur Graves, sr., OL/DL; Evan Mannes, jr., WR/LB; Heston Pettis, sr., DB; Ayden Ziomas, jr., QB
Outlook: The Grizzlies are led by junior quarterback Ayden Ziomas, who threw for 2,436 yards last season while tossing 33 touchdown passes and six interceptions. Senior receiver Bo Burns figures to be Ziomas’ go-to target this fall, with Glacier Peak having graduated its top two receivers from last year. The Grizzlies have big holes to fill on defense after losing linebacker Ricky Kranz and defensive lineman Malakai Fifita. Glacier Peak has reached the postseason every year since the school opened in 2008.
Last season: 6-4, 3-4 in conference play
Coach: Joel Vincent (20th season)
Key players: Daniel Arias, sr., WR/DB; Ethan Bonifacio, jr., DL; Jake Litchfield, sr., WR/DB; Cameron Loepp, sr., DL; Caviyon McCallister, sr., RB/LB; Jonathan Navarro, sr., RB/LB; Ben Olesen, jr., QB; Marcello Pellegrino, sr., DB; Louis Stout, sr., OL; Ty Thomas, sr., OL; Clint Wagner, sr., RB/LB
Outlook: Coming off their first winning campaign since 2012, the Timberwolves are looking to end a four-season playoff drought. Jackson is led by 6-foot-4 senior receiver and University of Colorado commit Daniel Arias, who posted 1,030 yards receiving and 12 touchdowns last year while averaging 103 yards receiving per game and 21 yards per catch. Arias and the Timberwolves should benefit from the return of junior quarterback Ben Olesen, who missed most of last season due to injury. Two-way senior standout Jonathan Navarro will be key on both sides of the ball after recording 117 tackles at linebacker last year and rushing for 601 yards and 13 touchdowns at running back.
Last season: 4-6, 2-5 in conference play
Coach: Dan Mack (20th season)
Key players: Ben Barton, sr., RB/LB; Dakota Bueing, jr., DB; Matthew Casson, jr., OL; Hiram Grayson, sr., LB; Xavier Henshaw, sr., DL; Matt Merk, jr., QB; Austin Pomada, sr., OL; Joseph Prikhodko, sr., DB; Matarr Saine, sr., DB
Outlook: Coming off the program’s first losing season since 2011, dual-threat junior quarterback Matt Merk and the Knights will look to add to their win total this fall. Kamiak allowed 36.6 points per game in conference play last year, but should benefit from the experience of seven returning starters on defense.
LAKE STEVENS VIKINGS
Last season: 11-1, 7-0 in conference play (lost in state quarterfinals)
Coach: Tom Tri (13th season)
Key players: Conor Bardue, sr., QB; Anthony Hutchinson, sr., WR/DB; Tre Long, jr., WR/LB; Jevon Morris, sr., DL; Austin Murren, sr., WR/DB; Matt Sevao, sr., OL/DL
Outlook: Riding a 24-game league winning streak, the Vikings haven’t lost in conference play since 2013. Lake Stevens cruised to its fourth consecutive Wesco 4A title last season, outscoring conference opponents by an average of 40.5 points per game. The Vikings are young and inexperienced at many positions this fall after losing seven starters on both sides of the ball, including standout receivers/defensive backs Hunter Eckstrom and Jake Rasmussen. Returning is senior quarterback Conor Bardue, who was named The Herald’s Offensive Player of the Year last season after completing 71.4 percent of his passes for 3,023 yards and 41 touchdowns. Senior receiver and cornerback Anthony Hutchinson is slated to miss the first part of the season with a leg injury, but the Vikings hope to have their dynamic playmaker back later this fall as they seek their sixth trip to the state playoffs in seven years.
Last season: 7-4, 5-2 in conference play (lost in first round of state playoffs)
Coach: Mark Stewart (third season)
Key players: Zerabruk Abraham, sr., LB; Luis Alvarez, sr., OL; Isaiah Harrison, sr., DL; Romelo Mangum, sr., RB; Casteel Njau, sr., DB; Ethan Skrabak, sr., OL; Alex Tran, sr., OL
Outlook: The Marauders are coming off their first trip to the state playoffs since 2007 and their first winning season since 2012. But with the graduation of eight all-conference starters from last year’s team, new stars will need to emerge for Mariner to earn its fourth consecutive postseason berth.
Last season: 9-2, 6-1 in conference play (lost in first round of state playoffs)
Coach: Michael Bumpus (third season)
Key players: Ricky Baker, sr., LB; Kainalu Batongbacal, sr., WR/RB/LB; Efton Chism III, soph., WR/DB; Isaiah Cole, sr., WR/DB; Josh Jerome, sr., OL/DL; Isaiah Lewis, sr., RB/DB; Nathan Mead, sr., OL/DL; Jaedyn Prewitt, sr., QB
Outlook: Coming off their first state-playoff appearance since 1991, the Bearcats are Lake Stevens’ top challenger for the Wesco 4A crown. Monroe will look to avenge last year’s 42-3 running-clock loss to the Vikings in the de facto conference title game, which came after the Bearcats had stormed to an 8-0 start with seven wins by 40-plus points. Monroe lost quarterback Zach Zimmerman and star running back JJ Jerome — the area’s second-leading rusher last season — but returns an all-senior offensive line that should pave the way for running back Isaiah Lewis. Anchoring the defense is Josh Jerome, a two-way senior lineman and Eastern Washington University commit. Monroe is hopeful that injured senior Isaiah Cole, a dynamic wide receiver and electric special-teams returner, will be back later this fall as the Bearcats make another state-playoff push.
MOUNT VERNON BULLDOGS
Last season: 0-10, 0-7 in conference play
Coach: Nic Vasilchek (first season)
Key players: Landon Edwards, jr., WR/DB; Gabe McGuire, sr., RB/LB; Bernard Ricketts, sr., OL; Jose Sanchez, jr., RB/DB; Seth Tercero, jr., RB
Outlook: First-year coach Nic Vasilchek takes over a struggling Mount Vernon program that’s suffered through back-to-back winless seasons. After losing every game in 2015 by a double-digit margin, the Bulldogs showed improvement last fall with a pair of one-point conference losses.