3A PCL primer
On the throne
Lakes’ combination of talent, proven coaching and tradition make them a slight favorite in deep league.
Change is good
Lincoln will be saying goodbye to the deep-passing offense former coach Jon Kitna installed. Up next — Air Raid.
By the numbers
Five schools — Lakes, Bonney Lake, Lincoln, Bethel and Wilson — reached at least the regional playoffs in 2015.
Lakes (10-3 in 2015-16), Bonney Lake (7-5), Lincoln (10-1), Bethel (6-4), Wilson (6-5), Stadium (3-7), Spanaway Lake (2-8), Mount Tahoma (1-9).
Mark the date
Oct. 14: Lakes at Bonney Lake, 7 p.m., Sunset Chev Stadium
Coach: Mark Iddins, third year.
2015 record: 6-4, tied for third in SPSL South; lost in 4A district playoffs
Offense: Coordinator (set) — Mark Iddins (spread). Returning starters — 6. Top players — WR Jarrell Anderson, 6-4, 220, jr; TE Savon Bell-Johnson, 6-5, 220, sr.; OL Chris Sargent, 6-1, 260, sr.; WR Collin White, 6-1, 205, sr.; OL Byron Willis, 6-4, 265, sr.
Defense: Coordinator (set) — John Wise (multiple). Returning starters — 6. Top players — DL/LB Jarrell Anderson, 6-4, 220, jr.; DB Lane Brown, 5-10, 160, sr.; LB/DB Joehnis Joyce, 6-2. 190, sr.; DB Machiah Lee, 6-0, 180, jr.; LB Lucas Olsen, 6-2 225, sr.; LB Seth Smith, 6-0, 210, sr.
Outlook: If you thought the Braves’ nice run expired when Ezra Cleveland went off to Boise State, or Elijah McLeod moved on to Central Washington this summer, guess again. Behind that big-name talent was a lot of second-tier depth. The running game (Lee and Isaiah Tamu) and defense (seven underclassmen regulars return) are expected to be better, and this might be the season Brown emerges as the league’s best ball-hawking safety.
BONNEY LAKE PANTHERS
Coach: Jason Silbaugh, fifth year
2015 record: 7-5, fourth in 3A SPSL; lost in 3A state quarterfinals.
Offense: Coordinator (set) — Von Morroz (two-back open). Returning starters — 9. Top players — OL Caleb Davis, 6-4, 285, sr.; RB Jason Day, 5-10, 195, sr.; RB Marcus Hamilton, 6-0, 210, sr.; QB Kaiden Hammond, 6-1, 205, jr.; OL Christian Mack, 6-3, 305, sr.; WR Cody Miller, 6-5, 185, sr.
Defense: Coordinator (set) — Matt Ledbetter (4-3). Returning starters — 9. Top players — DL Caleb Davis, 6-4, 285, sr.; LB Jason Day, 5-10, 195, sr.; DB Cody Miller, 6-5, 185, sr.; DL Alema Oliva, 6-2, 255, jr.; LB Riley Teed, 5-11, 205, sr.; DB Braydon Tressler, 5-11, 185, jr
Outlook: By far, this is the most talented roster this school has ever had. The question is, now known as a playoff threat, can the Panthers build on what they did a season ago? Davis, an All-Area pick in 2015, will move all around on both lines. And Hamilton is set to break out as the offense’s most explosive threat at tailback. If Hammond, a Rogers transfer, finds his niche as a passer, look out — a serious league contender.
Coach: Dave Miller, 17th year
2015 record: 10-3, tied for second in 3A SPSL; lost in 3A state semifinals.
Offense: Coordinator (set) — Dave Miller (multiple). Returning starters — 4. Top players — OL Matthew Gotel, 6-2, 280, sr.; WR Zarrion Hill, 6-3, 185, sr.; OL Hector Jasso, 6-3, 290, jr.; TE Cale Lindsay, 6-2, 235, sr.; RB Melvin Miller, 5-10, 190, sr.; WR Dedrian Milligan, 6-0, 195, sr.
Defense: Coordinator (set) — Devin Snyder (multiple). Returning starters — 3. Top players — DL/LB Xavier Banner, 6-1, 215, sr.; LB Jakai Cavness, 6-0, 205, sr.; DL Matthew Gotel, 6-2. 280, sr.; LB Cale Lindsay, 6-2, 235, sr.; DB Cody Roe, 6-1, 180, jr.; DB Che’ Rogers, 5-11, 170, jr.
Outlook: Fresh off its first final four appearance since 2010, can Lakes make it to the Tacoma Dome in back-to-back seasons? Dave Miller likes this team’s ceiling, even if it is a work in progress. Melvin Miller (head) returns to be the featured tailback, and will be asked to carry a big load as new quarterback Jaylen Antoine settles in. Lancers have depth everywhere except offensive line.
Coach: Masaki Matsumoto, second year
2015 record: 10-1, first in 3A Narrows; lost in first round of state playoffs.
Offense: Coordinator (set) — Shalls Jacome (spread). Returning starters — 5. Top players — RB Tristian Kwon, 5-11, 175, jr.; OL Zeek Sayavong, 6-0, 275, jr.; QB Joey Sinclair, 6-0, 180, sr.; OL Giovonni White, 6-2, 290, so.; OL Quazzel White, 6-3, 290, sr.
Defense: Coordinator (set) — Masaki Matsumoto (3-4). Returning starters — 5. Top players — LB Alex Gillies, 6-1, 200, jr.; DL L.J. Lovelace, 6-1, 200, sr.; DB Patrick Rogers, 5-10, 1780, sr.; LB Teshawn Seu, 5-10, 185, jr.; LB Mahlon Slaughter, 6-0, 200, jr.
Outlook: Remember all that downfield passing the Abes featured under former coach Jon Kitna — and even last year in Matsumoto’s debut campaign? It is giving way to the quick-trigger Air Raid offense. It fits the high-functioning Sinclair’s style, who is adept at taking what a defense gives him. He will operate up tempo in short spaces, and will have up to eight rotating wide receivers to distribute to.
MOUNT TAHOMA THUNDERBIRDS
Coach: Ricky Daley, third year
2015 record: 1-9, seventh in 3A Narrows.
Offense: Coordinator (set) — Ricky Daley (spread). Returning starters — 7. Top players — OL Lopez Ausage, 6-4, 300, sr.; QB/TE Braxton Ballard-Swenson, 6-3, 215, sr.; WR Ira Branch, 5-11, 185, sr.; OL Nick Malava, 6-2, 250, jr.; RB/WR Maleke Pate, 5-10, 160, jr..; TE Siloi Tuialuuluu, 6-3, 220, jr.
Defense: Coordinator (set) — Ryan Williams (4-3). Returning starters — 8. Top players — DB Ira Branch, 5-11, 185, sr.; LB Sua Liufau, 5-10, 205, sr.; DL Isiah Rogers, 6-4, 200, sr.; DL Losi Siolo, 6-2, 280, so.; LB Sonny Te’o, 5-9, 180, jr.; DL Jordan Ubaldo, 5-10, 200, jr.
Outlook: Daley is taking this rebuilding effort slowly, but sees signs of steps forward. Ballard-Swenson and Julian Alcantara, a Jefferson transfer, are better passers than the graduated Adrian Allen and need to connect with Pate, Branch and Bryce Stewart for big plays. Liufau, the team’s leading tackler the past two seasons, should be one of the better defensive players in the league at outside linebacker.
SPANAWAY LAKE SENTINELS
Coach: John Robak, 22nd year
2015 record: 2-8, seventh in SPSL South.
Offense: Coordinator (set) — John Robak (wing-T). Returning starters — 3. Top players — QB Rock Gray, 5-11, 205, jr.; RB Leitumalo Hunkin, 5-11, 280, sr.; OL Kaleo Sabian, 5-11, 225, so.; TE Corbin Saucedo, 5-11, 220, sr.; OL Nathan Scanlan, 6-1, 295, sr.
Defense: Coordinator (set) — Cameron Robak (3-4). Returning starters — 3. Top players — DB Brian Felagai, 5-9, 195, sr.; DL Noah Felagai, 6-0, 185, jr.; LB Leitumalo Hunkin, 5-11, 280, sr.; DL Nathan Scanlan, 6-1, 295, sr.
Outlook: Other offenses in the league might want to trick you or run right by you. Robak, on the other hand, isn’t hiding what he’s going to do by returning to the wing-T offense: He wants to run right through you. Gray is a big, strong runner at quarterback. So is the guy he will hand off to 15-20 times a game — Hunkin, who played offensive guard last year and is 280 pounds.
Coach: Thomas Ford, third year
2015 record: 3-7, tied for fifth in 3A Narrows.
Offense: Coordinator (set) — Thomas Ford (spread). Returning starters — 8. Top players — OL John Blasco, 6-6, 295, sr.; OL Bailey Elder, 6-5, 285, so.; RB Jamon Chambers, 5-8, 165, sr.; WR Max Novak, 5-11, 175, sr.; QB Hunter Wendling, 5-10, 165, jr..
Defense: Coordinator (set) — Darrin Reeves (4-2-5). Returning starters — 6. Top players — LB Shane Lincoln, 5-11, 205, sr.; DB Jose Mascareno, 5-11, 175, sr.; DB Jalen Scott, 5-8, 185, sr.; DL Bernard Tauaese, 6-2, 290, sr; DL Ben Yokoyama, 6-3, 230, sr.
Outlook: Just out of curiosity, when was the last time this school reached the state playoffs? Well — never. But the Tigers and their 20 seniors are thinking not only are they the league’s spoiler team, but this is the year to end the drought. The offense is sound with four returning starting linemen, the well-rounded Chambers and the up-and-coming Wendling. Expect Chambers to be more involved in the passing game.
Coach: Don Clegg, 29th year
2015 record: 6-5, second in 3A Narrows; lost in first round of state playoffs.
Offense: Coordinator (set) — Amad Robinson (multiple). Returning starters — 7. Top players — RB Ezra Adams, 5-9, 175, so.; WR Drew Bonds, 6-2, 180, jr.; RB/WR Elijah Jones, 5-10, 150. sr.; OL Tatanie Lee-Borland, 5-11, 240, sr.; OL Liam McCarty, 6-1, 245, sr.; QB Alex Motonaga, 6-2, 195, sr.
Defense: Coordinator (set) — Jon Harkness (3-4). Returning starters — 7. Top players — LB Sean Domek, 6-0, 180, sr.; DB/PK Alek Greenleaf, 6-3, 190, sr.; OL Tatanie Lee-Borland, 5-11, 240, sr.; OL Liam McCarty, 6-1, 245, sr.; DB Alex Motonaga, 6-2, 195, sr.
Outlook: If you are trying to pinpoint one player worth paying to watch this season, it would be Motonaga, who seems to make plays out of nothing. Clegg wants his talented signal-caller to be a better decision-maker without losing his skill to improvise. He has plenty of skill-position talent (Adams, Danavian Holmes at tailback; Bonds, Jones, Tevin Hill at wide receiver) around him.