High School Sports

3A Pierce County League football preview

Lincoln's Tristian Kwon talks about the running back position

Running back Tristian Kwon of Lincoln breaks down the running back position.
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Running back Tristian Kwon of Lincoln breaks down the running back position.

ON THE THRONE

Arguably the most accomplished program in Pierce County the past half-decade, Lincoln is the favorite in top-heavy league.

5 PLAYERS TO WATCH

DB Alex Dangtuw, Lakes, sr. — Long-armed, fast and physical, he could be the best cornerback to ever play for the Lancers.

RB Tristian Kwon, Lincoln, sr. — Hard-nosed, downhill runner might not get as many carries as 2016, but production should be there.

DB Machaih Lee, Bethel, sr. — A Big Sky Conference-level defensive back, Lee will switch from safety to cornerback this season.

WR Cody Roe, Lakes, sr. — Last year’s quarterback is now a good-hands pass catcher who has made transition look very seamless.

QB Hunter Wendling, Stadium. sr. — He’s thrown for 4,888 yards and 34 touchdowns the past two seasons. Even more is expected.

PROJECTED FINISH

Lincoln (9-3 in 2015-16), Bonney Lake (9-3), Lakes (7-5), Stadium (6-4), Bethel (4-6), Wilson (4-6), Mount Tahoma (3-7), Spanaway Lake (1-9).

MARK THE DATE

Oct. 14: Lakes at Lincoln, 7 p.m., Lincoln Bowl

BETHEL BRAVES

Coach: Mark Iddins, fourth year

2016 record: 4-6, fifth place in 3A PCL.

Offense: Coordinator (set) — Mark Iddins (spread). Returning starters — 7. Top players — OL Ethan Calapp, 6-0, 230, sr.; TE Tristyn Gese, 6-2, 215, sr.; QB Nate Hughes, 6-2, 180 jr.; RB Vince Talnatongo, 5-11, 190, sr.; WR Trenton Weseman, 6-0, 175, sr.

Defense: Coordinator (set) — John Wise (“40” front). Returning starters — 4. Top players — DB Machiah Lee, 5-11, 185, sr.; LB Simba Sokimi, 6-1, 190, sr.; DB Adrian Tedataotao, 5-11, 175, sr.; DL Alex Vinton, 6-3, 260, sr.; LB Josh Walker, 5-10, 195, jr.

Outlook: It was a tough November for Iddins. For the first time in five season, even dating back to his small-school stint in Montana, the coach did not experience playoff fever. But the one-year hiatus also re-energized him in the offseason. The team’s three-headed quarterback platoon has been reduced to one — Hughes. The main reason is because Gese asked to move to tight end, and should be a huge weapon in the passing game. Braves poised to rebound.

BONNEY LAKE PANTHERS

Fahsel
Bonney Lake wide receiver Adam Fahsel (7) pulls down a pass against Timberline on Sept. 9, 2016 at Sunset Stadium in Sumner. Tony Overman toverman@theolympian.com

Coach: Jason Silbaugh, sixth year

2016 record: 9-3, second place in 3A PCL; lost in state quarterfinals.

Offense: Coordinator (set) — Von Morroz (two-back). Returning starters — 5. Top players — RB Adam Fahsel, 6-0, 190, sr.; QB Kaiden Hammond, 6-1, 200, sr.; OL Alema Oliva, 6-2. 270, sr.; OL Bull Richardson, 6-1, 270, jr.; WR/RB Braydon Tressler, 5-10, 185, sr.

Defense: Coordinator (set) — Jason Silbaugh (4-3). Returning starters — 7. Top players — LB Peyton Brock, 5-8, 190, sr.; DB Roman Casey, 6-1, 190, jr.; DB Adam Fahslel, 6-0, 190, sr.; DL Aron Oliva, 6-3. 335, so.; DB Braydon Tressler, 5-10, 185, sr.

Outlook: Another one of the 3A quarterfinalists, the Panthers will continue to do what they do — run the football and play stifling defense. Fahsel, a former wide receiver, will be the focal point of the rushing attack. And in his second season as the starter, Hammond should take an even bigger jump running the offense, especially in the quick passing game. The defense should have more wrinkles with Silbaugh, a former Lakes defensive coordinator, now calling the shots.

LAKES LANCERS

Coach: Dave Miller, 18th year

2016 record: 7-5, third place in 3A PCL; lost in state quarterfinals.

Offense: Coordinator (set) — Dave Miller (multiple). Returning starters — 5. Top players — WR Na’Hoku Agor, 5-9, 175, sr.; OL Hector Jasso, 6-3, 275, sr.; OL Devin Kostelecky, 6-0, 235, sr.; RB Khalil Lewis, 5-10, 185, jr.; WR Cody Roe, 6-2, 185, sr.

Defense: Coordinator (set) — Caleb Kellcy (3-4). Returning starters — 4. Top players — DB Na’Hoku Agor, 5-9, 175, sr.; LB Manny Borrero-Lewis, 5-9, 185, sr.; DB Alex Dangtuw, 6-1, 170, sr.; DB Cody Roe, 6-2, 185, sr.; DL Hector Jasso, 6-3, 275, sr.

Outlook: Surviving a rash of injuries, the Lancers have still advanced to at least the 3A quarterfinals the past two seasons. And they have a dangerous, big-play receiver group just ready to break out, led by Roe, who moved over from quarterback, and Kyreice Miller. Who will get the football to them? Liam Bladow is the starting quarterback, but expect Miller to take snaps, too. If linebacking corps matures quickly, watch out for another deep Lakes’ run.

LINCOLN ABES

Coach: Masaki Matsumoto, third year

2016 record: 9-3, first place in 3A PCL; lost in state quarterfinals.

Offense: Coordinator (set) — Shalls Jacome (Air Raid). Returning starters — 7. Top players — QB Jaylen Antoine, 6-2, 185, sr.; WR Nick Goss, 6-1, 165, sr.; RB Tristian Kwon, 6-1, 185, sr.; OL Ezekiel Sayavong, 6-0, 260, sr.; OL Giovonni White, 6-3, 280, jr.

Defense: Coordinator (set) — Masaki Matsumoto (3-4). Returning starters — 7. Top players — LB Alex Gillies, 6-2, 220, sr.; DB Kavon Holden, 5-8, 170, sr.; DB Tristian Kwon, 6-1, 185, sr.; LB Teshawn Seu, 5-10, 185, sr.; DL Giovonni White, 6-3, 280, jr.

Outlook: It is sometimes difficult to stay committed to the “Air Raid” offense when you are a defensive coordinator at heart. That is what Matsumoto is, but he is sticking with it. And this season, expect more air time – as in Antoine or sophomore Caden Filer throwing more passes than Joey Sinclair, last year’s starter. Both could rotate series at quarterback. Winners of 24 of past 26 regular-season games, Abes gunning for fourth consecutive league crown.

MOUNT TAHOMA THUNDERBIRDS

Coach: Ricky Daley, fourth year

2016 record: 3-7, tied for sixth place in 3A PCL.

Offense: Coordinator (set) — Ricky Daley (spread). Returning starters — 6. Top players — QB Jaylan Farmer, 6-0, 180, jr.; OL Cameron Jackson, 6-3, 280, sr.; RB Trevino Lewis, 5-7, 150, jr.; WR/RB Maleke Pate, 5-11, 170, sr.; TE Siloi Tuialuuluu, 6-4, 210, sr.

Defense: Coordinator (set) — Gus Lawlar (3-4). Returning starters — 7. Top players — DB Chris Ferrer, 5-9, 170, sr.; DL Losi Siolo, 6-1, 295, jr.; LB Sonny Te’o, 5-11, 190, sr.; LB Jordan Ubaldo, 5-11, 200, sr.; DB Alex Winston, 5-6, 155, sr.

Outlook: It’s not good when fall camp opens, and your best player is on the sideline. Pate (knee), one of the best all-around threats in the league, is out indefinitely after suffering torn meniscus during outside football activities. The only good to come out of that is the Thunderbirds have been without him for months, and will rely on Farmer, who led the JV squad to 6-2 record a year ago, to find Tuialuuluu in the passing game.

SPANAWAY LAKE SENTINES

Coach: John Robak, 23rd year.

2016 record: 1-9, tied for sixth place in 3A PCL.

Offense: Coordinator (set) — John Robak (spread). Returning starters — 6. Top players — WR Jacob Castro, 6-4, 180, sr.; QB Jordan Etter, 6-1, 170, jr.; OL David Kava, 5-10, 250, sr.; RB Francisco Lugo, 5-9, 145, jr.; OL Kaleo Sablan, 5-11, 235, jr.

Defense: Coordinator (set) — Cameron Robak (multiple). Returning starters — 7. Top players — DB Cory Butler, 5-9, 145, jr.; DL Noah Felagai, 6-2, 270, sr.; LB Rock Gray, 5-11, 200, sr.; DL David Kava, 5-10, 250, sr.; DL James Kuahiwinui, 5-1, 220, sr.

Outlook: Everybody knows Robak craves power football. So why the sudden change to the spread? He is looking to create enthusiasm among a group that has won three games in the past two seasons. Etter has the arm strength to get passes out to the perimeter, notably to Castro, a big outside target. And Gray – last year’s top quarterback, has moved full-time to middle linebacker, which should shore up the defense. Sentinels’ last winning season was 2009.

STADIUM TIGERS

Coach: Thomas Ford, fourth year

2016 record: 6-4, fourth place in 3A PCL; lost in district playoffs.

Offense: Coordinator (set) — Thomas Ford (spread). Returning starters — 6. Top players — RB Nazje Briscoe. 5-10, 190, jr.; WR Jaden Crooks, 5-10, 175, sr.; OL Bailey Elder, 6-5, 295, jr.; WR Xavier Mason, 6-1, 195, jr.; QB Hunter Wendling, 5-10, 165, sr.

Defense: Coordinator (set) — Darrin Reeves (4-3). Returning starters — 6. Top players — DB Nazje Briscoe. 5-10, 190, jr.; DB David Kotyash, 5-10, 185, jr,; DB Che Rogers, 5-11, 165, sr.; DL Daniel Tauaese, 6-3, 290, jr.; DB Dashawn Webber, 5-11, 160, sr.

Outlook: If you thought the Tigers’ offense was fast-moving and high-powered a season ago, it wants to add an extra gear to the passing game in 2017. That means more shots down the field from Wendling, arguably the area’s top returning passer. He will look often for Crooks, Mason and Rogers. To shore up holes on run defense, Stadium is shifting to 4-3 scheme. Tauaese, who started every game as a sophomore, will be relied upon to plug holes initially on the interior.

WILSON RAMS

Coach: Amad Robinson, first year

2016 record: 4-6, tied for sixth place in 3A PCL.

Offense: Coordinator (set) — Amad Robinson (West Coast spread). Returning starters — 4. Top players — WR Drew Bonds, 6-2, 180, sr.; RB Emmanuel Croskey, 5-7, 145, jr.; QB Jack Hanisch, 6-4, 210, so.; RB Danavion Holmes, 5-11, 160, sr.; OL Thomas Jacobs, 6-2, 245, jr.

Defense: Coordinator (set) — Nick Springer (multiple). Returning starters — 4. Top players — DB Drew Bonds, 6-2, 180, sr.; DL Caleb Howard, 6-2, 170, sr.; LB Brevyn Porter, 5-11, 210, sr.; DL Jonathan Soi, 6-3, 195, jr.; DL Josiah Vaiolo, 6-4, 255, sr.

Outlook: Many wonder what will happen to the Rams in the post-Don Clegg era. Well, the guy who is taking over — Robinson — not only was Clegg’s offensive coordinator, he was also the starting quarterback for the Wilson squad that reached the Class 4A title game in 1998. Yes, this is a young group that the new coach has inherited, but if the Hanisch-to-Bonds passing combination nets big plays, early-season momentum could provide a huge boost.

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