High School Sports

Is the best receiving corps in the state in 2A? Steilacoom’s ‘Juice Boys’ ready to make their case

The picturesque town of Steilacoom will play host to one of the state’s most dynamic passing offenses this fall. And while the city’s idyllic downtown might be known for its sweeping views of Puget Sound and quiet, relaxed pace, the Sentinels’ offense will be fast and explosive.

Class 2A Steilacoom High boasts one of the state’s top receiving corps — in any classification — led by 5-star recruiting prospect Emeka Egbuka, a junior.

Egbuka has no shortage of big-time collegiate offers, ranging from Washington to national powers Alabama and Ohio State.

On his own, that would be a tall enough task for any defense to slow down. But Egbuka isn’t the only big-play receiver on the team. Junior Tre Horner is a 3-star prospect and slot receiver Jayden Coalson was a first-team all-league selection last season. And as if that wasn’t quite enough, Steilacoom added a transfer this season in Isaiah Devane, another 3-star prospect who spent last season playing at Harker Heights in Texas.

“I’m not overly confident, but I feel strongly that we’re going to be basically unstoppable on offense this year,” Egbuka said. “If we get the job done on both sides of the ball, we’re going to come out with a lot of (wins) this season.”

Junior Chance McDonald takes over the reins at quarterback from J.J. Lemming, who graduated. And while McDonald is still easing his way into things, no quarterback could ask for a better landing spot.

“It makes it a lot easier for me,” McDonald said. “We’ve grown up with each other, so the chemistry is already there. We click well, I’ve got the timing down well on the routes. Overall, we just feel good and relaxed with each other.”

Steilacoom coach Colby Davies said he thinks the transition will be relatively seamless at the quarterback position.

“I don’t think you could ask for a better situation to walk into,” he said. “This receiving corps is very, very special. I think with (McDonald’s) inexperience, you’re always waiting to see how things are going to pan out. Through the spring, he developed nicely. He’s very accurate with the football, making good decisions, can make plays with his feet.

“We just need to see him live. He has to get those live reps and be composed under pressure. If he can do those things, I think he’s going to have an incredible year.”

The receiving corps even has its own nickname: The “Juice Boys,” a phrase coined by offensive coordinator Greg Herd, complete with a signature handshake.

“We’re always ready to go, always juiced up, have that energy,” Devane said.

Egbuka knew during 7-on-7 tournaments in the summer that Steilacoom had a special unit on its hands.

“We’ve been firing on all cylinders, scoring lots of touchdowns,” he said. “I can count on one hand how many times we’ve been stopped on an offensive drive. I think we’re going to be solid coming into the season and ready to go.”

Steilacoom also returns a veteran offensive line, lending credence to the idea that this could be a big season for the Sentinels. The wins shouldn’t be hard to come by, but Steilacoom is still looking to get over the hump and win the big game. Last year, it was a 35-28 loss to Hockinson that ended the season in the 2A state quarterfinals. The year before, a 23-13 loss to Tumwater in the quarterfinals.

“It comes down to toughness,” Davies said. “It’s not like I felt like we’ve lacked toughness the past few years. But these guys know what that game is like, and that game is coming. … We have to win that game. We know we’re going to see it. You’re going to run into that team that’s very talented and knows how to win. We haven’t won that game yet, but I think these guys are ready to win it.”