ON THE THRONE
Last year was the first time in 11 consecutive seasons that Peninsula missed the playoffs. But with seven starters back on both sides of the ball, that shouldn’t happen again.
CHANGE IS GOOD
With QB Davis Alexander off to Portland State, Gig Harbor has a few players in the running for his spot. Word is still out on who gets the job.
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BY THE NUMBERS
In his freshman debut, stepping in for an injured senior, Capital QB Grant Erickson was 19 of 28 passing for 258 yards and three touchdowns against 3A Narrows League champion Lincoln.
Peninsula (4-5 last year), Capital (4-6), Gig Harbor (10-1), Central Kitsap (4-6), Timberline (4-6), Yelm (5-5), Shelton (6-4), North Thurston (5-5).
MARK THE DATE
Sept. 30: Capital at Peninsula, 7 p.m.
Coach: John Johnson, 10th year.
2015 record: 4-6, tied for third in 3A Narrows League; lost in district playoffs.
Offense: Coordinator (set) — Darren Tinnerstet (multiple). Returning starters — 8. Top players — OL David Ainuu, 5-11, 255, sr.; WR Carson Bertelli, 5-9, 170, sr.; OL Brad Clark, 5-10, 230, sr.; WR Jack Collard, 6-4, 190, jr.; WR Chase Martin, 6-0, 175, sr.; OL Max Salcedo, 6-2, 220, sr.; TE Chris Schnellman, 6-4, 205, sr.; RB Chase Vandiver, 5-11, 205, jr.
Defense: Coordinator (set) — John Johnson (multiple). Returning starters — 8. Top players — LB Ainuu; DL Sam Altman, 5-10, 200, sr.; DB Collard; DL Dan Garland, 6-0, 250, sr.; DB Ryan Guscott, 6-11, 180, jr.; LB Salcedo; LB Nate Smith, 5-11, 200, sr.; LB Nate Tyler, 6-0, 185, jr.
Outlook: You won’t have to strain your eyes to catch a glimpse of 6-foot-6 sophomore quarterback Grant Erickson. He’s added nearly 20 pounds and plenty of confidence since he was briefly thrust into the starting role as a freshman — against 3A Narrows champion Lincoln, no less. He was 19 of 28 passing for 258 yards and three touchdowns in that game. This season, he has a group of veteran receivers, some back from injury, in Bertelli, Collard, Martin and Schnellman. Prepare for an air raid.
CENTRAL KITSAP COUGARS
Coach: Mark Keel, 17th year.
2015 record: 4-6, tied for third in 3A Narrows League; lost in district playoffs.
Offense: Coordinator (set) — Mark Keel (pistol). Returning starters — 6. Top players — RB Roque Blas, 6-1, 200, sr.; OL Thomas Ingles, 6-1, 240, sr.; TE Dawson Krog, 6-0, 220, jr.; OL Derrick Lovelace, 5-9, 220, sr.; OL Elijah Sousou, 6-0, 280, sr.; QB Tyler Tubbs, 6-2. 175, jr.
Defense: Coordinator (set) — Eric Schuette (3-4). Returning starters — 5. Top players — DB Tristan Barr, 5-10, 170, jr.; DB Alika Sarono, 6-1, 190, sr.; LB/KR DeAndre Sincere, 5-6, 160, sr.; DB Darickus Welborne, 5-11, 180, jr..
Outlook: No wonder Keel is quietly optimistic — he has the best roster depth since 2009, the last year the Cougars went to the state playoffs. Tubbs is in his second season as a starter — and grew two inches and gained 20 pounds in the offseason. That should enable him to carry the football more than the two times he did last season in the read-option attack. A real sleeper with a chance to win the league title.
GIG HARBOR TIDES
Coach: Aaron Chantler, fifth year.
2015 record: 10-1, first in 4A Narrows League; lost in first round of state playoffs.
Offense: Coordinator (set) — Aaron Chantler (spread). Returning starters — 3. Top players — RB Martin Brazier, 6-0, 205, jr.; OL Alex Emery, 6-0, 285, sr.; WR Kellen Gregory, 6-2, 180, jr.; WR Roman Havens, 5-10, 160, sr.; WR Shawn Kimble, 5-9, 155, sr.; OL Khalif Spry, 6-4, 260, so.
Defense: Coordinator (set) — Jack Lanier (multiple). Returning starters — 4. Top players — LB Brazier; DB Zack Davis, 6-0, 175, sr.; DB Mack Ditter, 6-0, 185, sr.; DB Mark Fletcher, 5-9, 160, sr.; DB Havens; DB Mark Kimball, 5-10, 175, jr,
Outlook: Chantler knew this day was coming — replacing a once-in-a-generation group of 27 seniors that dropped one league game in three seasons. That is why the timing of jumping to a new league was so welcomed around this program. The obvious question entering 2016 — who replaces Davis Alexander at quarterback? A heated competition is underway, but Chantler is keeping results of it under wraps.
NORTH THURSTON RAMS
Coach: William Garrow, first year.
2015 record: 5-5, sixth in 3A Narrows League.
Offense: Coordinator (set) — William Garrow (shotgun single back). Returning starters — 3. Top players — QB/WR Clayton Christian, 6-3, 190, jr.; QB Anthony Rybalkin, 6-5, 185, sr.; WR Devin Santos, 5-7, 155, sr.; RB/WR Ross Sherrer, 5-8, 165, sr.
Defense: Coordinator (set) — Michael Martin (3-4). Returning starters — 7. Top players — LB Ryan Burgman, 6-0, 200, sr.; LB Zion Kirk, 5-9, 190, jr.; DB Santos; LB/DB Sherrer.
Outlook: Fresh start for the Rams as Garrow takes over for longtime coach Rocky Patchin, who retired last year. Not a lot of experience in the trenches on either side of the ball, but all-area selection Burgman is back at linebacker after recording 89 tackles (six for losses) last season. Sherrer brings back experience as a running back, wide receiver hybrid.
Coach: Ross Filkins, 21st year.
2015 record: 4-5, fifth in 3A South Puget Sound League.
Offense: Coordinator (set) — Jim Fairfield (spread). Returning starters — 7. Top players — RB Kenny Easton, 6-1, 192, sr.; WR Jack Filkins, 6-3, 178, sr.; OL Cody Kanouse, 6-7, 324, sr.; RB Cameron Lewis, 5-10, 177, sr.; WR Deboreae McClain, 6-3, 196, sr.; OL J.T. Schmidt, 6-2, 243, sr.
Defense: Coordinator (set) — Joel Epstein (Ameba). Returning starters — 7. Top players — DB Blake Cantu, 6-0, 186, sr.; DL Isaac Esterly, 6-3. 272, sr.; DB Filkins; DB Evan Johnson, 6-0, 178, sr.; DB Lewis.
Outlook: After making it to the Class 3A state quarterfinals for three consecutive seasons, last year’s playoff miss was a surprise. Ross Filkins attributed it to “inconsistency in execution” at key junctures. The Seahawks might not have the star power of recent seasons, but they do have a surplus of solid performers. Quarterback race is unsettled, but expect incumbent Ryder Johnson to reclaim top spot at some point.
Coach: Matt Hinkle, 22nd year.
2015 record: 6-4, tied for third in 3A Narrows League.
Offense: Coordinator (set) — Todd McPhee (multiple). Returning starters — 8. Top players — QB Tyler Giraldes, 6-4, 205, sr.; WR Kyle Kimball, 6-3, 215, sr.; OL Gable Lacy, 5-11, 210, sr.; RB Trenten Osman, 6-1, 215, jr.; OL Dylan Paul, 6-0, 215, sr.; WR Skyler Ross, 6-3, 195, sr.; RB Willy Ruiz, 5-8, 180, sr.; TE Taylor Toney, 6-1, 220, sr.
Defense: Coordinator (set) — James Sobotka (3-4). Returning starters — 7. Top players — DL Darquae Jennings, 6-0, 320, sr.; DB Kimball; DE Lacy; LB Paul; DB Ross; LB Toney; DL Nick Wuestner, 6-3, 330, sr.
Outlook: For a program that has pushed the power running game for decades, this offense will look a bit different. It won’t be an all-out Air Raid, Hinkle says, but look for quarterback Giraldes — last year’s starter, who nearly led Shelton to the postseason — to drop back and sling the ball more. Wide receivers Ross and Kimball — who the Highclimbers call their twin towers — and Toney at tight end are all expected to be playmakers.
Coach: Mike Spears, second year.
2015 record: 4-6, fourth in 4A Narrows League.
Offense: Coordinator (set) — Riki Reid (spread pistol). Returning starters — 7. Top players — WR/RB Michael Barnes, 5-11, 180, jr.; OL Camren Bowes, 6-2, 300, sr.; OL Chase Bowes, 6-1, 260, jr.; RB Anthony Hathaway, 5-11, 205, sr.; QB Jacob Henning, 5-10, 175, sr.; QB Trenton Horn, 6-1, 210, sr.; OL Kamiko Naipo, 6-3, 280, sr.; OL Conner Warick, 6-5, 220, jr.
Defense: Coordinator (set) — Mike Spears (3-3). Returning starters — 5. Top players — DL Jalen Bush, 6-7, 235, sr.; LB Ty Edmond, 5-10, 205, jr.; DB Zach Rohr, 6-0, 180, sr.; DB Isaac Thompson, 6-1, 175, jr.; DL Alizen Wilson, 6-6, 380, sr.
Outlook: If there’s a sleeper team in this new league, Timberline could be it. The Blazers are big, experienced and deep in the trenches, and return the bulk of their offensive and defensive lines, including all-area selection Camren Bowes at center. Henning and Horn are a year more experienced after splitting time last season, and Hathaway runs hard and angry.
Coach: Jason Ronquillo, fourth year.
2015 record: 5-5, tied for fifth in 4A Narrows League.
Offense: Coordinator (set) — Jason Ronquillo (multiple). Returning starters — 6. Top players — OL Jeffrey Bouillion, 5-10, 225, sr.; WR Kaleb Lunderville, 6-2, 190, sr.; RB Brandon Thompson, 5-9, 180, sr.
Defense: Coordinator (set) — Todd Cordova (3-3). Returning starters — 8. Top players — LB Nic Blanco, 5-9, 180, sr.; DE Tyler Losch, 5-10, 200, sr.; LB Austin Platt, 5-10, 185, sr.; DB Thompson,.
Outlook: When Thompson — a four-year starter with blistering speed, who racked up 1,700 yards of total offense last season — has the ball, watch out. When he doesn’t, look for Lunderville (46 receptions for 893 yards and 15 touchdowns) burning a defender. Those two spread the field for the seasoned Tornados — the first group Ronquillo has had for their entire high school careers. Yelm returns veteran linebackers Blanco and Platt.
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