High School Sports

Area small schools: Team-by-team capsules

CHIEF LESCHI WARRIORS

Coach: Mark Smith, first year

League: 2B Pacific

2014 record: 1-8, eighth in league

Offense: Coordinator (set) — Kevin Guenzi (shotgun spread). Returning starters — 5. Top players — QB Sean Allen, 5-9, 150, sr.; OL Alex Cordova, 6-4, 260, jr.; OL Arrow Fa’amuli, 6-4, 270, sr.; RB/WR Ja’alam Love, 6-0, 170, sr.

Defense: Coordinator (set) — Mark Smith (4-2-5). Returning starters — 6. Top players — LB Rhett Chee, 5-7, 150, sr.; DL Arrow Fa’amuli; LB Ja’alam Love; DL Roberto Marrufo, 6-0, 260, sr.

Outlook: No one said the 2B Pacific League was going to be easy. The Warriors learned that quickly in their first season out of the 2B Northwest League, with their only win coming in a 20-19 nail-biter against Tacoma Baptist, where Smith spent 23 seasons and made the state playoffs 15 times. But he’s in a good place now with a new stadium, track and expanded weight room.

EATONVILLE CRUISERS

Coach: George Fairhart, 23rd year

League: 1A Evergreen

2014 record: 11-1, first in league, lost in state semifinals

Offense: Coordinator (set) — Jeff Mladenich (wing-T). Returning starters — 6. Top players — QB Jacob McCormick, 6-0, 185, sr.; OL Josh Miller, 6-1, 245, sr.; RB Logan Moose, 6-3, 215, sr.

Defense: Coordinator (set) — Mike Moller. Returning starters — 2. Top players — DL Hayden Baumann, 5-11, 275, jr.; DB Jacob McCormick.

Outlook: The Cruisers lost the league MVP (George Tomal), co-defensive players of the year (Justin Kaelin and Josh Warner) and return just two starters from a team that reached the state semifinals for the first time since 1997. But there’s a reason Fairhart has gone 158-84 entering his 23rd year. The offense should be strong with McCormick back for a third year at QB and a speedy Moose out of the backfield.

EVERGREEN LUTHERAN EAGLES

League: 1B Sea-Tac

Coach: Steve Lawrence, first year

2014 record: 5-4, first place, lost in 1B first round

Offense: Coordinator (set) — Steve Lawrence (multiple). Returning starters — 6. Top players — OL Jacob Abbott, 6-2, 245, sr.; RB Jake Lawrence, 5-10, 185, sr.; RB Kyle Leitzke, 5-11, 185, sr.; WR Ryan Lorette, 5-11, 165, jr.; QB Jeffrey Parker, 5-10, 155, sr.; OL Josh Wiles, 6-2, 230, sr.

Defense: Coordinator (set) — Chris Denney (4-4 stack). Returning starters — 6. Top players — DL Jacob Abbott; LB Jake Lawrence; LB Kyle Leitzke; LB Ryan Lorette; LB Jeffrey Parker; DL Josh Wiles.

Outlook: The Eagles advanced to the state playoffs for the first time last season, losing to Lopez Island. Now the core group is made up of seniors, led by the prolific Lawrence. He will take direct snaps out of the team’s stack offense. Parker is a good passer, too. Evergreen Lutheran is big up front, with six linemen weighing more than 250 pounds. Real state sleeper will have to contend with eventually with Neah Bay and Lummi to get a shot at 1B title.

LIFE CHRISTIAN EAGLES

Coach: Jess Nelson, second year

League: 2B Pacific

2014 record: 6-3, third in league, lost in first round of state

Offense: Coordinator (set) — Dan Coen (pistol). Returning starters — 6. Top players — RB Wyatt Dunlap, 5-10, 185, sr.; QB Jack Hohimer, 6-0, 170, sr.; RB/WR Mike McKay, 5-9, 170, jr.; OL Jackson McKenna-Kier, 6-4, 255, sr.

Defense: Coordinator (set) — Nelson (3-4). Returning starters — 7. Top players — DL Ryder Blake, 6-0, 245, sr.; DB/LB Wyatt Dunlap; LB Jake Hohimer; DB Mike McKay; DL Jackson McKenna-Kier; LB Stephen Woomer, 5-9, 165, jr.

Outlook: If Nelson’s transition from 4A Stadium to 2B Life Christian was rocky last season — with the Eagles still making the state playoffs — imagine the expectations this season, with a year of his system under the team’s belt and the Eagles’ top skill position players all back. Dunlap and McKay should make for a dynamic duo in the backfield, with McKay also splitting out as a slot receiver.

RAINIER MOUNTAINEERS

Coach: Terry Shaw, third year

League: 2B Pacific

2014: 2-6, fourth in league

Offense: Coordinator (set) — Shaw (triple option). Returning starters — 9. Top players: QB McKoy Bichler, 5-10, 170, sr.; OL Dalton Kinkela, 6-0, 245, sr.; OL Jesse Nubbe, 5-10, 195, jr.; RB Ian Russell, 6-1, 210, so.

Defense: Coordinator (set) — Calvin Hicks (3-4). Returning starters — 9. Top players: DB Nathan Anderson, 5-8, 165, jr.; DB Keaton Carlson, 6-1, 185, jr.; LB Tim Clifford, 5-10, 185, sr.; LB Alec Miller, 5-8, 190, sr.

Outlook: The Mountaineers have been building since Shaw’s arrival in 2013. After finishing 3-7 Shaw’s first season, Rainier improved to 6-4 in 2014, and only graduated two seniors. Bichler was the 2B Pacific league MVP last season.

ROCHESTER WARRIORS

Coach: Eric Snelson, third year

League: 1A Evergreen

2014: 2-7, fifth in league

Offense: Coordinator (set) — Shane Dover (Pro I). Returning starters — 7. Top players: OL Chase Dover, 6-1, 270, sr.; RB Joseph Foley, 6-0, 185, sr.; TE Tiki Hickle, 6-3, 210, sr.; QB Nick Taylor, 6-3, 180, sr.

Defense: Coordinator (set) — Eric Snelson (3-4). Returning starters — 8. Top players: DB Andrew Filmore, 6-1, 170, sr.; LB Luke Kimbrel, 5-11, 205, sr.; LB Kage Thayer, 5-8, 170, sr.

Outlook: Snelson will try to get on the positive side of an 8-11 record after two seasons with the Warriors. Taylor will be the player to watch on the Warriors offense — which averaged 17.6 points per game in league play last season — while Kimbrel will be key to defensive success.

TACOMA BAPTIST CRUSADERS

Coach: Tim Rasmussen, second year

League: 2B Pacific

2014 record: 0-9, ninth in league

Offense: Coordinator (set) — Rasmussen (multiple). Returning starters — 9. Top players — OL Tyler Hertz, 5-10, 185, sr.; OL Zeke Kazarovich, 6-2, 200, sr.; OL Noah Leaman, 5-11, 200, jr.; WR Dustin Lirazan, 5-9, 175, jr.; QB P.J. Talen, 6-2, 180, so.; TE Doug Stone, 5-9, 180, jr.

Defense: Coordinator (set) — Rasmussen (4-3). Returning starters — 9. Top players — DL Tyler Hertz; LB Zeke Kazarovich; LB Logan Kitselman, 5-11, 190, fr.; DB Jake McGehee, 5-9, 180, jr.

Outlook: This team had nine players turn out last year. The school had to combine with Covenant High School to bring that number up to 17. But Rasmussen got 21 Tacoma Baptist players to try out this year, and he said the school had an increase in enrollment for the first time in eight years. Additionally, a complete renovation of the gymnasium is in the works.

TENINO BEAVERS

Coach: Randy Swilley, second year

League: 1A Evergreen

2014 record: 4-5, sixth in league

Offense: Coordinator (set) — Tim Edmonds (single wing). Returning starters — 8. Top players — QB Calvin Guzman, 6-1, 225, sr.; OL Riley Noonan, 6-0, 260, sr.; RB Thomas Pier, 5-8, 180, sr.

Defense: Coordinator (set) — Swilley (4-2-5). Returning starters — 7. Top players — DL Jack Burnham, 6-3, 265, jr.; LB Nihls Peterson, 6-5, 210, sr.; DL Kaleb Strawn, 6-0, 195, sr.; DB Robbie Wall, 5-9, 180, jr.

Outlook: The Beavers only won two league games in 2014, but have leaders on both sides of the ball to call the shots this season. Swilley said Guzman — who had 700 all-purpose yards last year — is a second coach on the field on offense, while Wall aligns the defense and calls the coverage. Tenino also returns Pier, who rushed for 1,600 yards and 19 touchdowns out of the backfield in 2014.

t.cotterill@thenewstribune.com

lauren.smith@gateline.com

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