Expectations are running high for the Edmonds-Woodway football team.
Given the success of the Warriors the past two years, it’s safe to say perhaps as high as they have ever been.
The Warriors are coming off back-to-back state playoff appearances and a pair of co-Western Conference South Division titles.
Edmonds-Woodway’s state playoff run was short-lived as the Warriors lost both of their first round games. Those two losses are more than enough motivation for the returning players, said junior quarterback/defensive back Kyle McCartney.
Key seniors back include two of the most explosive offensive players in the league — running back Josh Heard and wide receiver Eric Greenwood — both of whom were first-team, all-league selections.
Heard amassed 1,743 yards on 207 carries and 22 touchdowns. Greenwood had 568 yards on 36 receptions with five touchdowns.
Other offensive standouts include Hamlett, a second-team, all-league tight end, and senior running backs Nick Fuga and Jordan Scott. Heard’s younger brother, Tony, a sophomore running back, was called up as a freshman and made an immediate impact in the backfield. Newcomer Antoinne Wafer brings speed to the other wide receiver position.
The Edmonds-Woodway offense largely revolved around Josh Heard last season and he likely again will be called on to carry a good portion of the load.
The Warriors, however, are looking to pass the ball more.
The lone returning starter on the offensive line is senior Dayne Richards. Five or six other players were in the rotation last week.
On defense, senior Zach Houvener, a first-team, all-league defensive back, anchors an experienced secondary along with Greenwood and McCartney. Hamlett was a second-team, defensive lineman.
If numbers and experience can help predict success, the Jackson football team should be considered among the favorites in the Western Conference South Division.
The Timberwolves return their largest senior class in history with 32 upperclassmen. Sixteen returning starters give the Wolfpack a level of experience few teams can match.
The Wolfpack are coming off another successful campaign. Jackson advanced to the first round of the Class 4A state playoffs for the second time in three years.
The Wolfpack offense is led by first-team, all-league quarterback Jake Gelakoska, who lit up the opposition for 1,938 yards and 17 touchdowns.
What stands out for the Oregon State-bound Gelakoska is the development of the offensive line, seniors Luke Watson, Hunter Spencer, Tylor Rathbun, Zach Pace and Josh Cain.
The Wolfpack had one of the most prolific passing attacks in the league but didn’t have as much success on the ground.
Shoring up the running game is a top priority this year.
Senior Dan Reimer and sophomore Taylor Cox bring two different styles in the backfield. Reimer is more of a straight-ahead type of runner, while Cox is speedy and will be able to bounce to the outside.
Cox’s speed will be needed in the backfield and in the secondary due to the likely loss of one of the team’s top players, Kawika Emsley-Pai. The senior wide receiver/defensive back is still recovering from a back injury suffered during the spring baseball playoffs. Vincent doesn’t know if Emsley-Pai, a first-team, all-league wide receiver and second-team, all-league defensive back, will be healthy enough to play this season.
It won’t take long for the Meadowdale football team to find out how good it is after opening the season against Edmonds-Woodway and Jackson, the preseason picks among coaches to lead the Western Conference South Division.
The Mavericks, who moved down to Class 3A this season, finished a game out of the playoffs last year after making it the three previous seasons.
“We have a lot of experience on offense,” quarterback Matt Johnson (6-foot, 3-inches, 210 pounds), a returning starter said. “We have a lot of speed. All of our backs run a 4.7 (40-yard dash) or faster.”
Johnson was the Mavericks’ second-leading rusher with 516 yards and eight touchdowns.
The returning backfield of seniors Eric Rabon (5-7, 165) and Hans Peterson (5-11, 200), along with junior Tonna Njoku (5-11, 175) is what makes the Mavericks’ Wing-T offense hum.
The offensive line returns only one starter, senior center Dustin Geveshausen (6-2, 270). This year’s other starters are seniors Eric Dewey (6-2, 225) and Nate Higgins (6-4, 250) at tackle, and juniors Connor Nelson (5-11, 195) and Eric Secrist (6-1, 215) at guard.
Junior tight end Jacob Clampitt (6-3, 210) returns and senior split end Calum Gordon (6-3, 180) is a first-year starter.
Johnson completed 47 of 104 passes for 629 yards and five touchdowns. The Mavericks figure to throw the ball 10 to 15 times a game, he said.
On defense, the line features senior nosetackle T.J. Rhodes (5-10, 235), sophomore tackle Ben Shebly (5-9, 215), senior defensive end Travis Cramer (6-0, 185) and junior defensive end Jory Bourgette (6-1, 180). Rhodes and Cramer are returning starters.
“I don’t think anybody will be able to run on us at all,” Rhodes said. “Nothing up the middle.”
The linebacking crew includes senior Jonathan Lambert (6-0, 190), junior Tyler Tallman (6-0, 230) and junior Nick Montanari (5-8, 180).
The secondary is all new with Johnson at cornerback, junior Alex Sankey (5-8, 150) at cornerback, senior Tristan Gordon (6-5, 215) at strong safety and Matt McCoy (5-11, 160) at free safety.
There’s no turning back for the Mountlake Terrace football team.
Nearly two decades of struggles and losing records came to an end last year when the Hawks shook off an 0-4 start and won five of their final six games to finish 5-5 overall, the school’s best record since 1986.
Many key contributors to the turnaround graduated, but their influence is still being felt.
“We’re not going to let last year’s seniors take us to .500 and then just drop back down,” said senior offensive linemen Brady Barnes.
What the Hawks are lacking is varsity experience. While the 2005 team was top heavy with seniors, the senior class this year is smaller.
The biggest void is at running back with the departure of second-team, all-league standout Carroll Powell, the centerpiece of the 2005 offense.
Junior running back Casey Finnicum should assume a larger role this season.
Finnicum likely will be joined by several other individuals in the backfield.
“It could be a backfield by committee just because there are a lot of carries to spread around that Carroll had last year,” Mountlake Terrace head coach Tony Umayam said. “But we’re definitely looking to open things up and throw the ball a little bit more now.”
Junior wide receiver Michael Wiley will be another key component of the offense. Ellersick’s experience is a major asset for what should be an improved passing attack.
The defense saw a little more turnover than the offense. Eight starters are gone.
The Hawks should be very athletic on the defensive side of the ball.
“We might be a bit undersized up front, but we have some good athletes that swarm to the football,” Umayam said.
It’s a new beginning for the Lynnwood football team.
Four days before their season opener, the Royals got a new head coach.
Lynnwood assistant coach Reggie Corns was appointed interim head coach following the departure of John Morris, who submitted his resignation Aug. 28.
Morris coached one season at Lynnwood. He led the Royals to a 0-10 record in 2005.
The Royals opened with a 48-42 loss to Mariner but then struggled the rest of the season. In its other nine games, Lynnwood was outscored 401-68.
“We’re not going to let (the resignation) affect our play,” junior quarterback Andrew Beatty said. “We’re still going to play tough.”
Corns, the Royals baseball coach, has been an assistant football coach for the last five years. He will be the team’s fourth head coach in five years.
The players were informed of the change on Tuesday. Corns said the players talked about it for five minutes and then got back to work.
Coming into the season, the players felt they had purged much of the negativity from last year.
“Our spirits are a lot higher,” Beatty said last week after practice. “We are more focused and we’re just ready to play. Last year we didn’t have that. We were lazy. We were lackadaisical. We didn’t have anybody to lead us.”
The Lynnwood offense has shifted its focus to the passing game after running the ball for most of last year.
The change was prompted in part because the projected starting running back is going to miss the first five games of the season due to academic issues.
Beatty and backup quarterback/wide receiver Samer Abou-Zaki will direct the Lynnwood offense. Other key offensive players include junior running back J.J. Fuentes, junior wide receiver Scott Hill and junior tight end Chris Gordon.
The offensive line should be improved from last year and averages about 6-foot-2, 250 pounds.
On the defensive end, Lynnwood has improved speed and the Royals plan to take advantage of it by blitzing more and mixing up the coverage.
What gives the Royals the most hope for 2006 is simply the players’ attitude.
“We just need to pick up the intensity level and go out there, play and have fun,” Fuentes said. “It’s kind of like a new Lynnwood. The old Lynnwood died. We’ve got guys who are serious.”
Enterprise writer Tony Dondero contributed to this report.