ON THE THRONE
Sumner won the league title a year ago and made it all the way to the 4A state semifinals before losing to Camas, which also ended Graham-Kapowsin’s season in the first round of the state playoffs. This year, the Eagles and Spartans should battle it out again for a league title.
5 PLAYERS TO WATCH
QB Dylan Morris, Graham-Kapowsin, jr. – The UW commit is the top returning passer in the SPSL, finishing last season with a 66.5 percent completion percentage, 1,693 yards passing, 19 TDs and seven interceptions.
RB/SS Micah Smith, Graham-Kapowsin, jr. – Smith rushed for 1,713 yards rushing, 24 touchdowns and averaged 214.1 yards per game in 2016. Smith and Morris provide one of the best quarterback-running back combos in the state.
RB/MLB Ben Wilson, Sumner, sr. – The senior TCU commit is known for terrorizing opposing offenses. He was the SPSL 4A defensive MVP last season, and a first-team all-state and all-area linebacker.
RB/DB Tre Weed, Sumner, sr. – Weed emerged from the shadow of teammate Connor Wedington last season and proved to be an all-purpose threat. He finished seventh in the league in rushing with 680 yards and nine TDs and caught 19 passes for 371 yards and seven TDs.
RB/DB Sabian Bryant, Curtis, sr. – Bryant was a second-team all-league running back a year ago, finishing with 1,024 yards, 15 TDsand an average of 7.4 yards per carry. Bryant finished fifth in the league in rushing, but was second among the running backs returning this season.
Graham-Kapowsin, Sumner, Olympia, Bellarmine Prep, Curtis, Puyallup, Emerald Ridge, South Kitsap, Rogers.
MARK THE DATE
Sept. 22: Sumner vs. Graham-Kapowsin, 7 p.m. at Art Crate Stadium
BELLARMINE PREP LIONS
Coach: Brian Jensen, third year
2016: 7-4, fourth in SPSL, lost in first round of 4A state playoffs
Offense: Coordinator – Jensen (multiple) Returning starters – 5. Top Players – WR Christian Brown, 5-10, 175, sr.; TE Chase Chandler, 6-1, 200, sr.; OL Josh Hanigan, 6-0, 235, sr.; TE Sam Behnke, 6-3, 217, jr.; OL Reese Lawrence, 6-1, 210, jr.; QB Marcus Stowers, 6-0, 185, so.; OL Josiah Nikolao, 6-1, 280, so.
Defense: Coordinator – Dan Shaw (multiple) Returning starters – 5. Top Players – DB Brown; LB Chandler; DL Hanigan; DL Behnke; DL Lawrence; LB Luke Weller, 5-10, 217, jr.
Outlook: The Lions have a new quarterback in sophomore Marcus Stowers, who can count on senior wide receiver Christian Brown (53 catches for 813 yards and four TDs in 2016). If Stowers settles into his role quickly, the Lions should compete for a playoff spot.
Coach: Chris Paulson, third year
2016: 4-5, fifth in SPSL
Offense: Coordinator – Paulson (pistol spread option) Returning starters – 9. Top Players – RB Sabian Bryant, 5-7, 160, sr.; WR Taj Moffett, 5-11, 165, sr.; WR Zack Paulsen, 6-4, 180, jr.; RB Izaiah Fields, 5-8, 150, sr.; OL Luke Purcella, 6-0, 240, jr.; OL Brett Clemensen, 6-1, 260, jr.
Defense: Coordinator – Jason Anderson (3-4) Returning starters – 6. Top Players – DB Moffett; DB Carson Gregg, 5-11, 165, sr.; LB Miles Cooney, 6-1, 210, jr.; DB TJ Banks, 5-10, 175, sr.; DB Cody Beard, 5-11, 180, sr.; DB Bryant.
Outlook: The Vikings should be sharp on offense (nine starters returning), including senior Sabian Bryant, who finished fifth in the league in rushing last season and senior speedster Izaiah Fields, who averaged 10.5 yards per carry and finished second in the 4A 100-meter dash at the state track meet in the spring.
EMERALD RIDGE JAGUARS
Co-coaches: Brian Anderson, Torey Donovan, Darren Erath, Troy Halfaday, ninth year
2016: 4-6, sixth in SPSL
Offense: Coordinator – Donovan (veer) Returning starters – 2. Top Players – WR Omari Williams, 6-3, 190, sr.; RB Jakob Hausenauer, 6-1, 180; OL Mosiah Liu, 6-2, 260, sr.; OL Braandon Bare, 6-4, 205, sr.; OL Justin Stoll, 6-0, 203, jr.; OL Jona Mains, 6-0, 295, so.
Defense: Coordinator – Erath and Anderson (odd front) Returning starters – 2. Top Players – DB Williams; DB Hausenauer; DL Liu; DL Bare; LB Stoll; DL Mains.
Outlook: The Jaguars return just four starters and will need to gel quickly.
Coach: Eric Kurle, 13th year
2016: 9-2, second in SPSL, lost in first round of 4A state playoffs
Offense: Coordinator – Kurle (multiple pro). Returning starters – 7. Top Players – QB Dylan Morris, 6-1, 200, jr.; RB Micah Smith, 6-1, 190, jr.; WR Tre Mason, 6-0, 175, sr.; WR Thomas Wheeler, 6-0, 200, sr.; TE Tyler Wheeler, 6-1, 210, sr.; OL Chris Sparks, 6-1, 240, jr.; OL Ethen Proter, 6-3, 285, jr.
Defense: Coordinator – Travis Robinson and Muckie Foreman (4-2-5). Returning starters – 5. Top Players – DL Proter; LB Villamia Hansen, 5-10, 205, sr.; DB Kasia Childress, 5-11, 180, sr.; SS Drew Hagen, 5-9, 175, sr.; DB Jermiah Kekoa, 6-0, 190, sr.
Outlook: Morris and Smith will help the Eagles score plenty of points. With talent and experience on both sides of the ball, G-K is one of the favorites to capture the league title.
Coach: Steve Davis, first year
2016 record: 7-3, third in 4A SPSL, lost in district playoffs
Offense: Coordinator — Davis (multiple). Returning starters — 7. Top players — WR Adam Berg, 5-11, 180, sr.; WR Ibi Cessay, 5-11, 180, sr.; OL Tyson Holloway, 6-2, 240, sr.; RB Owen Shea, 6-1, 205, sr.; OL Logan Wood, 6-3, 240, sr.; QB Ketner Young, 6-3, 185, sr.
Defense: Coordinator — Dennis Graham (4-2-5). Returning starters — 5. Top players — LB Toran Effland, 6-1, 195, sr.; DB Garrett Iyall, 5-9, 175, jr.; LB Isaac Mucklan, 5-11, 215, sr.; DL Noa Peralta, 6-0, 225, sr.; LB Eachen Pettis, 5-9, 195, sr.
Outlook: The Bears will replace one the league’s best backs (Scott Gunther) with Shea, who saw plenty of time last season. Young is entering his second season at quarterback after throwing for more than 1,000 yards and eight touchdowns as a junior. Cessay was a regular target last season, and with two new receivers’ coaches, look for Olympia to throw the ball more.
Coach: Gary Jeffers, eighth year
2016: 4-6, seventh in SPSL
Offense: Coordinator – Ray Brassard (multiple) Returning starters – 6. Top Players – QB Jacob Holcomb, 5-11, jr.; WR Landen Neff, 6-2, 185, sr.; WR Darius Morrison, 6-3, 180, jr.; OT Carson Simmons, 6-4, 240, sr.; RB Kyle Cramer, 5-9, 175, jr.
Defense: Coordinator – Spencer Boyes (3-4) Returning starters – 5. Top Players – DB Neff; LB Brendon Ngotel, 5-8, 185, sr.; LB Cramer, LB Mason Hague, 6-0, 185, sr.
Outlook: Junior quarterback Jacob Holcomb takes over for his older brother Nathaniel, who graduated after a stellar senior season (3,408 yards and 41 TDs). Jacob inherits a talented group of receivers.
Coach: Gene Bowen, 14th year
2016: 1-9, ninth in SPSL
Offense: Coordinator – Dane Looker (multiple) Returning starters – 6. Top Players – RB Aaron Johnson, 5-9, 200, sr.; WR Tyrese Rios, 6-1, 180, so.; QB Brydon Harlan, 6-1, 180, sr.; WR Imari Hurte, 5-9, 165, jr.
Defense: Coordinator – Andy Armstrong (4-4) Returning starters – 5. Top Players – LB Hunter Briggs, 5-11, 180, sr.; LB Kyle Peter, 5-8, 200, jr.; DL Russell Wilson, 6-1, 220, sr.
Outlook: The Rams have a strong group of running backs and receivers with a lot of speed. There’s some experience, too, with 11 starters returning.
SOUTH KITSAP WOLVES
Coach: Cory Vartanian, first year
2016: 2-8, eighth in SPSL
Offense: Coordinator – Lyle Prouse (spread) Returning starters – 3. Top Players – RB Izaiah Davis, 5-10, 200, sr.; WR Quinn Ogan 5-8, 150, sr.; QB Garrison Gilssen, 6-2, 190, sr.; OL Darian Fether, 6-1, 239, sr.
Defense: Coordinator – Derrick Saulsberry and Sean Banks (4-3) Returning starters – 5. Top Players – DT Deandre Matanane, 5-10, 285, sr.; LB Norman Padranois, 5-8, 205, sr.; LB Nathan Marin, 5-10, 170, sr.; DB Deyondre Davis, 5-8, 150, so.
Outlook: Vartanian took over on May 15, not leaving much time to adjust to new systems, although he said the team has been quick to embrace its new defensive scheme.
Coach: Keith Ross, 17th year
2016: 12-1, first in SPSL, lost in 4A state semifinals
Offense: Coordinator – Spencer Crace (west coast veer) Returning starters – 6. Top Players – RB Ben Wilson, 6-2, 220, sr.; RB Tre Weed, 6-1, 190, sr.; QB Luke Ross, 6-2, 175, sr.; OL Austin Roth, 6-3, 250, sr.; OL Alex Beringer, 6-2, 300 jr.
Defense: Coordinator – Ross (black flag 4-4) Returning starters – 5. Top Players – LB Wilson; DB Weed; DL Torben Deese, 6-2, 255, sr.; DL Logan Mayer, 6-2, 260, sr.; DB Blake Tannehill, 5-11, 185, so.
Outlook: The Spartans said goodbye to star Connor Wedington, but remain loaded. Senior running back Tre Weed and senior quarterback Luke Ross give them a nice balance on offense and the defense, led by senior Ben Wilson, is one of the strongest around. The Spartans will be in the mix for another league championship.