The News Tribune's 2013 all-area football team

Staff writerNovember 28, 2013 

With input from coaches, each year The News Tribune selects its All-Area football team that traditionally publishes on Thanksgiving Day.

This year, 24 different South Sound schools are represented with players and coaches on the All-Area first team. The 32 spots broken down by leagues are: SPSL South (8), SPSL North (4), Narrows 3A (4), SPSL 2A (4), Nisqually 1A (4), Narrows 4A (3), SPSL 3A (3) and EvCo 1A (2).

All published statistics are through a nine-game regular season, unless noted.



Auburn Riverside
Quarterback, 6-2, 185, sr.

Others had better numbers, but nobody was better passing on the move than the 4A SPSL North MVP (2,132 yards total offense, 24 TDs). More important, he led the team’s turnaround from last year’s 1-9 season. Offers from Idaho, UNLV and Wyoming.

Thankful for in 2013: “For the relationships that I have with family, friends, coaches and teammates.”


Running back, 6-0, 215, sr.

With his blend of blazing speed and power, the “Canadian Ghost” continued to make tacklers disappear. Almost unstoppable on the dive play, he was named 2A SPSL offensive back of the year (1,040 rushing yards, 13 TDs).

Thankful for in 2013: “For my family, for being there for me not only this year, but every year.”


Federal Way
Running back, 5-9, 180, jr.

It started in his first Pee-Wee football game — four carries, four touchdowns. And now, the 4A SPSL South MVP (2,379 all-purpose yards, 25 total TDs) is simply the most electrifying player in the state on offense and special teams — and a top-tier recruit in the 2015 class.

Thankful for in 2013: “That I have family and friends who support me in what I do.”


Running back, 5-11, 175, sr.

Shifty, speedy and a terror coming around the edge on the Rams’ stretch play, the 3A Narrows offensive player of the year racked up eight touchdown plays of 25 yards or longer. Simpson ended up rushing for 1,073 yards and 13 TDs.

Thankful for in 2013: “For my family and all the support they have given me through my high school career.”


Wide receiver, 5-8, 170, sr.

If the Vikings needed a big play in the passing game, they looked for the 4A SPSL South receiver of the year (47 catches, 888 yards, 11 TDs in seven games). His two-year totals of 115 catches, 1,858 yards, 25 TDs rivaled anyone. Big-time baseball recruit.

Thankful for in 2013: “Being part of the Puyallup football program. Not ... many get to be part of such a tradition.”


Bellarmine Prep
Wide receiver, 5-9, 175, sr.

Not only his team’s best player, but also the 4A Narrows’ most explosive threat. His after-the-catch lateral movement often defies gravity. Though targets in the passing game were down (25 receptions, 479 yards, six TDs), he still provided dependable downfield blocking.

Thankful for in 2013: “My family for supporting me in all areas of my life.”


Wide receiver, 6-3, 205, sr.

Go deep, young man. The Bears liked striking quickly downfield, and the 4A SPSL’s leading pass-catcher (62 catches, 1,156 yards, 13 TDs) wore defensive backs out with speed, strong hands and jumping ability. Also standout in basketball and track and field.

Thankful for in 2013: “For my loving and supporting family, and also for supporting friends in my life.”


Tight end, 6-8, 285, sr.

In Battle Ground, he was just “Big Mac.” Around Fife, he’s known as “Big Country.” And in football, he is a big-time NCAA Division I recruit. Owner of 16 scholarship offers, he dominated both sides (team-high 15 catches on offense, 68 tackles on defense).

Thankful for in 2013: “My family and my true friends, as well as Fife’s football team and coaches.”


Charles Wright Academy
Offensive lineman, 6-4, 305, sr.

A two-time All-Area selection, he helped lead the Tarriers back to the 1A Nisqually title game. Savvy and sound technically, he issued 13 pancake blocks at left guard. Also had 3ß sacks on defense. Ivy League recruit was invited to walk on at Michigan.

Thankful for in 2013: “Adversity, because without it, I wouldn’t be where I am now.”


Offensive lineman, 6-6, 300, fr.

Get real — a ninth-grader playing left tackle in the rugged 4A SPSL? He was such a real deal that he dominated defensive ends and was voted the SPSL South’s offensive lineman of the year. So talented, could end up being state’s top tackle recruit ever by 2017.

Thankful for in 2013: “For my family, friends, teammates and God for letting me ... accomplish the things I’ve done.”


Offensive lineman, 6-3, 250, sr.

The league’s two-time, two-way player of the year, Striplin was the heart and soul of the Spartans’ run to back-to-back league titles. Lead blocker for the run game, he also finished second in league in tackles (81ß tackles) at linebacker.

Thankful for in 2013: “My mother and father. They’ve been there for me since Day One, win or lose.”


Gig Harbor
Offensive lineman, 6-4, 290, sr.

He’s everything coaches would want in a left tackle — big, athletic and a nasty, mauling blocker. Taylor was the anchor lineman for an offense that set a school record for total offense (412.0 ypg), and the all-4A Narrows selection did not allow a sack in his final two seasons.

Thankful for in 2013: “Having the support of my family and friends in regards to school and football.”


Bonney Lake
All-purpose, 6-0, 175, sr.

When the Panthers made their midseason move toward their first state playoff berth, Combs was the difference-maker. Totaled almost 500 yards in rushing, receiving and as a special-teams returner (1,495 total all-purpose yards). He was 3A SPSL’s co-player of the year.

Thankful for in 2013: “For my very supportive family and my teammates who have become my brothers.”


Cascade Christian
Kicker, 5-9, 200, sr.

We like our kickers to do a little bit of everything. He scored more touchdowns (two) than field goals (one), converted 51 of 57 PAT kicks and had 12 touchbacks on kickoffs. Also a starting defensive end, he had 57 tackles and six sacks.

Thankful for in 2013: “Just thank God for a great season, and my whole family and my girlfriend for supporting me.”


Cascade Christian, ninth year
Offensive coordinator of the year

You can’t leave the PLU football team without having an understanding of what good offense is. With Flattum at the helm, the Cougars’ offense has averaged 438.8 yards and 46.4 points a game in taking over the No. 1 ranking in Class 1A.

Thankful for in 2013: “My family. I have an amazing wife who supports me, a beautiful daughter who is a cheerleader ... and my son is a sophomore who starts at center.”


QB: Brendan Illies, Puyallup, 6-1, 185, jr.; RB: Sterling Brown, Gig Harbor, 5-11, 185, sr.; RB: Christian Cummings, Tumwater, 5-10, 180, sr.; RB: Brian Thomas, Steilacoom, 5-8, 185, jr.; WR: Joey Cassano, Auburn Mountainview, 5-9, 175, sr.; WR: Caleb Lyons, Lakes, 5-9, 185, sr.; WR: LaGrant Pegram, Rogers, 6-1, 170, sr.; OL: Michael Garrison, Peninsula, 6-1, 220, sr.; OL: Jake Grantham, North Thurston, 6-2, 220, sr.; OL: Mason Johnson, Kentlake, 6-2, 280, sr.; OL: Jay-Tee Tiuli, Federal Way, 6-3, 295, sr.; AP: Kieo Buchanan, Auburn, 5-8, 170, sr.; K: Matthew Philichi, Bellarmine Prep, 5-10, 180, jr.



Defensive lineman, 6-3, 220, sr.

Did just fine without Jaimie Bryant (University of Washington) at the other defensive end position. The all-2A EvCo performer (31 tackles, seven sacks) leads Tumwater’s impenetrable front four, often lining up on the wide side so he can run ballcarriers down.

Thankful for in 2013: “That my parents started me in sports early, and that I developed a passion for football.”


Defensive lineman, 6-2, 290, sr.

How would you feel if this big Eastern Washington commit was barreling your way? Blessed with girth and quick feet, he plugged the middle of the Falcons’ defensive line (55 tackles, 7ß sacks), and was named 3A Narrows defensive player of the year.

Thankful for in 2013: “Friends and family who helped out Henry Foss Falcons football.”


Defensive lineman, 6-4, 250, jr.

In a topsy-turvy season for the Lancers, this pass rusher still performed at a high level. Despite facing numerous double-teams, the two-time all-3A SPSL defensive end (51ß tackles, three sacks) still made an impact. Top recruit for 2015.

Thankful for in 2013: “For making it through the season without any severe injuries, and for getting a chance to be looked at by colleges.”


Defensive lineman, 5-9, 200, sr.

Make no mistake, he made his biggest impact as the 3A SPSL’s leading rusher (1,237 yards, 14 TDs) as the Seahawks defended their league title. He was also used as a speed pass rusher and, despite limited action, was still second in the league in sacks (five).

Thankful for in 2013: “My family and our Christ-centered relationship. I thank God for what I’ve made so far in life.”


Linebacker, 6-5, 190, sr.

A star in the making, Grady moved all around the second level for the 4A SPSL North champion Conquerors. And when he got his big paws on quarterbacks, they went down (6ß sacks). Selected as all-SPSL North receiver (37 catches, 663 yards, six TDs).

Thankful for in 2013: “My lord and savior Jesus Christ, and the endless blessing I receive from him.”


Spanaway Lake
Linebacker, 6-0, 200, sr.

Yeah, the Sentinels finished 1-8 in the regular season, but ask any coach about this two-way monster, and he will tell you how good this all-4A SPSL South pick is (83ß tackles ranked No. 4 in league). Also a 1,000-yard rusher and passer at quarterback.

Thankful for in 2013: “The health, love and support from all of my family.”


Linebacker, 6-1, 220, sr.

The Vikings were best in the 4A SPSL at stopping the run, and McLain is why. The team’s all-SPSL South middle linebacker led the league in tackles for loss (16) and finished with 78 tackles overall. Played fullback for first time, too.

Thankful for in 2013: “For my family and friends who have followed my high school career ... and my dad for helping me every step of the way.”


Cascade Christian
Linebacker, 6-2, 205, jr.

Delightfully known as “Moose” by teammates, Tobeck put together dominating efforts on both sides of the ball in 2013. Already an all-1A Nisqually tight end, he made the jump on the other side of the ball and was named the league’s defensive player of the year (79 tackles).

Thankful for in 2013: “My family and my football team.”


Federal Way
Defensive back, 6-2, 180, sr.

The spokesperson for the secondary’s “Legion of Zoom,” Curran made just as big an impact at his more natural position of free safety (4A SPSL-best four interceptions) than as the breakaway option quarterback (1,001 yards, 10 TDs). SPSL South athlete of the year.

Thankful for in 2013: “A healthy and loving family that is very supportive.”


White River
Defensive back, 6-0, 185, sr.

Really had a great season all around and was named the 2A SPSL player of the year. Not only was he No. 3 in the league in rushing (1,109 yards, 14 TDs), but he also was heavily utilized in the screen game. On defense, he led the league in tackles (88) and had three INTs.

Thankful for in 2013: “The support my family and community have given my team all year long.”


Defensive back, 6-0, 175, sr.

What a career. Fettig will leave with two school receiving touchdown records, but the two-time all-4A Narrows selection was a shutdown cornerback, too (33 tackles, three turnovers). Being recruited by Eastern Washington, Montana and UNLV.

Thankful for in 2013: “The family and friends God has blessed me with.”


Defensive back, 5-8, 200, sr.

Had the game-ending interception against Lincoln that not only saved the season, but also propelled the Blazers on late run to another 3A Narrows title. A three-year starter at safety/outside linebacker, he was as dependable as they come (56 tackles, 12 for loss, three INT).

Thankful for in 2013: “To have all the people I do supporting me. I am truly blessed to have all of them.”


Utility, 5-9, 170, sr.

There is fast, and then there is the blur that Miller is at full speed on the football field. He dominated with 1,398 all-purpose yards and 15 total TDs, had 54 tackles and three interceptions at cornerback, and was named the 3A Narrows player of the year.

Thankful for in 2013: “For being able to play football. I play for the people who can’t.”


Punter, 6-1, 180, jr.

The soft-spoken teenager isn’t afraid to admit it — he loves punting and has since he was a young kid. And he was selected the all-4A SPSL South punter (43.0-yard average on 17 attempts) this season. Also caught seven TD passes at receiver and had two interceptions at cornerback.

Thankful for in 2013: “My family and friends ... and just being able to play the sports I love.”


Tumwater, 38th year
Defensive coordinator of the year

One of the best in the business slowing down opposing offenses. And the Thunderbirds have been very opportunistic under Alexander in 2013, scoring a school-record 11 defensive touchdowns. The No. 1 unit has given up just 16 TDs. Not bad for a guy who was hired in 1976 to be the head wrestling coach.

Thankful for in 2013: “My beautiful wife, Rebecca, and for our health. Also for 50 years of coaching, and being included ... in the Tumwater football family.”


DL: Darrius Ridley, Curtis, 5-11, 265, sr.; DL: Monike Sarte-Failauga, Fife, 6-1, 290, sr.; DL: Elijah Suka, Tahoma, 5-11, 230, sr.; LB: Addison Barrett, Tumwater, 5-11, 180, jr.; LB: B.J. Hawthorne, Lincoln, 6-1, 215, jr.; LB: Jakob Racimo, 6-2, 210, Capital, sr.; LB: Taylor Roelofs, Life Christian Academy, 6-2, 185, sr.; LB: George Tomal, Eatonville, 6-0, 200, jr.; DB: Quincy Carter, Kent-Meridian, 6-1, 200, sr.; DB: Drew Griffin, Bellarmine Prep, 6-0, 205, sr.; DB: Brandon Montgomery, Wilson, 5-7, 145, sr.; DB: Tre Scott, Stadium, 5-10, 175, sr.; P: Jarred Hipple, Orting, 5-11, 180, sr.



Running back
Graham-Kapowsin, 5-11, 175, sr.

Known as “Tigger” by friends and teammates, James ended the season as the two-time SPSL 4A rushing champion. A smooth glider who packs a pretty big punch in the hole, he rushed for 1,329 yards and 24 touchdowns. For his two-year career at tailback, he finishes with 3,561 yards and 55 TDs

Thankful for in 2013: “My family, and for the opportunities given to me.”




Auburn Riverside, first year

Not a bad head-coaching debut for the ex-Washington State University receiver and defensive back (1994-97). After Bob Morgan resigned following a 1-9 season in 2012, Thomas – both an offensive and defensive coordinator under coach John Meagher at Federal Way High School – applied for the job, and led Auburn Riverside to an unexpected runner-up finish in the SPSL North, and a district playoff berth.

Thankful for in 2013: “For family and good health.”

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