High School Sports

4A SPSL football preview capsules

Isaiah Williams, left, will team with Chavez Kalua-Fuimaono to give Kentwood a pair of formidable running backs.
Isaiah Williams, left, will team with Chavez Kalua-Fuimaono to give Kentwood a pair of formidable running backs. Staff photographer

4A SPSL NORTHEAST

On the Throne

Kentwood returns the core of its offense, but not the defense, nor its coach. And that’s saying a lot considering the defense was the best in the entire SPSL, and Rex Norris never had a losing season in 10 years. But defensive line is still massive and Bush appears ready to turn his standout WSU playing career into a standout coaching career.

Change is Good

Kent-Meridian had one of the best offenses around last season, jumping out of the SPSL cellar with a winning season and playoff berth. But had tough time matching up physically. Coach Brett Allen says this year’s offensive and defensive lines are some of the deepest he’s had. Oh, and most of that offense is back for another go.

By the Numbers

No one threw for more yards last season than Tahoma’s Amandre Williams, who finished with 2,056 passing yards and 15 touchdowns with six interceptions. The UW commit complemented that with 7.5 sacks last season as a defensive end.

Projected Finish

Kent-Meridian (6-4 last year), Tahoma (6-5), Kentwood (8-2), Kentridge (1-9), Kentlake (5-5)

Mark the Date

Oct. 9: Kent-Meridian at Tahoma, 7 p.m.

KENT-MERIDIAN ROYALS

Coach: Brett Allen, sixth year

2014 record: 6-4, tied for second in division, lost in district playoffs

Offense: Coordinator (set) — Andy Romine (shotgun spread). Returning starters — 7. Top players — WR Emmanuel Daigbe, 6-1, 190, sr.; WR Marc Dennis, 6-0, 170, sr.; OL Noah Franquez, 5-10, 200, sr.; QB Ben Woods, 5-11, 175, jr.; RB/WR Malik Woolery, 5-8, 165, sr.

Defense: Coordinator (set) — Allen (3-4). Returning starters — 5. Top players — LB Daigbe; DB Dennis; LB Franquez; DB Gabe Gallman, 5-8, 175, sr.; LB Tristan Ingold, 5-11, 185, sr.; DB Woolery

Outlook: If last season was a breakthrough, this year could be something even more special, possibly the Royals’ first division title since 1991. They return key pieces from last year’s top passing offense, including a dynamic receiver in Daigbe, who also doubled as the 182-pound state wrestling champion. Allen said the team’s offensive and defensive lines are the strongest and deepest he’s had at the school.

KENTLAKE FALCONS

Coach: Brett Thompson, first year

2014 record: 5-5, fourth in division

Offense: Coordinator (set) — Kevin Hurt/Dan Nelson (spread). Returning starters — 6. Top players — WR Larry Alar, 5-9, 160, jr.; RB Andrew Dixon, 5-10, 200, sr.; QB Trey Helgeson, 6-2, 180, sr.; OL Brandon Kelley, 6-3, 275, jr.; DB Mitchell Lockhart 5-10, 165, jr.; WR Austin McBryde, 6-2, 160, sr.; RB Micah Vaifale, 5-8, 220, jr.

Defense: Coordinator (set) — Nick Bartoli (3-3). Returning starters — 5. Top players — LB Mitchell Alberts, 6-0, 185, sr.; DB Dixon; DB Lockhart.

Outlook: New coach, new offense? Thompson said he couldn’t ask for more in how his team has responded. Thompson enters Kentlake’s halls after seven seasons as an assistant for now-league-rival Tahoma under Tony Davis. And the Falcons are going no-huddle, up-tempo with the spread and he believes he has the pass catchers to do it. But health, like most high school teams lacking depth, will be key.

KENTRIDGE CHARGERS

Coach: Marty Osborn, 25th year

2014 record: 1-9, fifth in division

Offense: Coordinator (set) — Glenn Dacus (I-formation/pistol). Returning starters — 6. Top players — RB Brian Brown, 6-0, 195, sr.; OL Johnny Chen, 6-2, 295, sr.; OL Vincent Fesili, 6-0, 265, sr.; OL JT Meier, 6-0, 285, sr.

Defense: Coordinator (set) — David Fowler/Jeff Shumake (4-3). Returning starters — 6. Top players — DL Fesili; DB Tanner Conner, 6-2, 185, sr.; DL Meier; DB Sam Mullins, 5-9, 180, sr.; DB Elijah Ticeson, 6-2, 185, sr.

Outlook: Osborn, the winningest coach in school history with a 135-106 overall record, has had a couple of down years recently. The Chargers haven’t had a winning season since 2009, and their best defensive player, Braiden Beckman, who had 135 tackles last season, is now at Idaho State. Mullins can do a lot of damage in space (he had a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown last season).

KENTWOOD CONQUERORS

Coach: Mike Bush, first year

2014 record: 8-2, first in division, lost in district playoffs

Offense: Coordinator (set) — Bush (pro-style). Returning starters — 5. Top players — QB Brian Campbell, 6-2, 175, sr.; RB Isaiah Williams, 5-10, 160, sr.; RB Chavez Kalua-Fuimaono, 5-10, 190, jr., WR Connor Benson, 6-2, 180, sr.; OL Keaton Tompkins, 6-1, 240, sr.

Defense: Coordinator (set) — Ed Kramer (3-4). Returning starters — 4. Top players — DL Paul Finau, 6-4, 360, sr.; DL Jared Goldwire, 6-8, 300, sr.; LB Trenton Harris, 6-0, 175, sr.; DB Sam Kramer, 6-0, 167, sr.; DB Williams.

Outlook: A Kentwood team that’s physical up front, has a havoc-causing defensive line and runs the football? What’s new? Bush is just the fourth coach at a school that has never experienced a losing season, but he plans to continue many of the same signature Kentwood traits. Williams and Kalua-Fuimaono should be league’s best running back duo. Will be tough to duplicate what last year’s dominant D did.

TAHOMA BEARS

Coach: Tony Davis, 22nd year

2014 record: 6-5, tied for second in division, lost in district playoffs

Offense: Coordinator (set) — Chris Williams (spread). Returning starters — 6. Top players — WR Austin Brown, 6-2, 175, sr.; RB Caleb Brown, 5-10, 170, sr.; OL Michael Clauson, 6-1, 210, sr.; WR Cole Peckham, 6-3, 180, sr.; OL Zach White, 6-3, 295, sr.; QB Amandre Williams, 6-3, 235, sr.

Defense: Coordinator (set) — Walt Howard (odd front). Returning starters — 8. Top players — DB Austin Brown; DB Caleb Brown; DL Clausen; LB Macen Granlund, 5-11, 180, sr.; LB Alex Habenicht, 6-0, 190, sr.; DB Aidan Harmon, 5-9, 155, jr.; DL Williams.

Outlook: Enough of the scout team scrimmages. Davis is ready to see the real deal. You can tell just by the tone of his voice. He returns the bulk of what was one of the best passing offenses in the entire SPSL last season, including Williams at quarterback. Defensive line should be exceptional, too, but Bears must improve against the pass.

4A SPSL NORTHWEST

On the Throne

Think Federal Way’s down without Chico McClatcher? The same could have been said for the year before when it graduated quarterback Keenan Curran. The Eagles still have plenty of talent, including D’Jimon Jones at QB and Andrzej Hughes-Murray at linebacker.

Change is Good

No SPSL team had more rushing yards than Federal Way last season, behind McClatcher’s 1,837 yards, but it also had one of the SPSL’s worst passing offenses. Why would it need to pass? But with the receivers the Eagles have this year, and an improved Jones, expect that to change.

By the Numbers

Todd Beamer’s Andrew Tofaeono is the 4A SPSL Northwest’s top returning rusher after gaining 638 yards and 12 touchdowns last season (eighth most overall). He’ll be the focal point of Beamer’s offense and defense this season.

Projected Finish\

Todd Beamer (7-4 last year), Federal Way (9-3), Thomas Jefferson (3-7), Mount Rainier (1-9), Decatur (1-9).

Mark the Date

Oct. 23: Todd Beamer at Federal Way, 7 p.m., at Federal Way Memorial Stadium.

DECATUR GOLDEN GATORS

Coach: Levi Suiaunoa, second year

2014 record: 1-9, fifth in division

Offense: Coordinator (set) — Suiaunoa (spread). Returning starters — 8. Top players –WR Zach Green, 5-11, 155, sr.; RB Christian Siva, 5-7, 245, sr.; OL Darius Viena, 6-2, 240, jr.; OL Jerimiyah Viena, 6-3, 315, sr.

Defense: Coordinator (set) — Jason Russell (4-3). Returning starters — 7. Top players — DB Marcello Berganza, 5-8, 170, sr.; DB Toso Denny, 5-10, 165, sr.; LB Donya’e Turner, 5-10, 190, sr.; DL Quinzy Salu, 6-0, 190, so.

Outlook: No huddles, no punts, no kickoffs. Everything is done in an effort to get the ball back to the offense as fast as possible, so that means going for it on fourth down and following a score with an onside kick. Suiaunoa would prefer to never see his defense on the field. But without superior athletes such as Isaiah Hatch and Isaiah Diggs, who have graduated, new players will have to step up.

FEDERAL WAY EAGLES

Coach: John Meagher, 18th year

2014 record: 9-3, first in division, lost in state quarterfinals

Offense: Coordinator (set) — Beckett Cordes (pistol option). Returning starters — 5. Top players — RB Andrzej Hughes-Murray, 6-3, 235, sr.; QB D’Jimon Jones, 6-2, 175, sr.; WR Ben Koler, 5-10, 175, sr.; WR Brian Parker, 6-3, 175, sr.; WR Bobi Sims, 6-0, 170, sr.; RB Chris Williams, 5-10, 185, sr.

Defense: Coordinator (set) — CJ Green (30 stack). Returning starters — 4. Top players — LB Hughes-Murray; DB Koler; DB Jones; LB Marcus Tate, 6-3, 190, sr.; LB Draven Mose-Tupua, 6-1, 205, jr.

Outlook: Replacing Chico McClatcher on offense is tough enough. But how about those linebackers (Jared Pulu, David Tiumalu and Chris Tuiasosopo)? That’s where Hughes-Murray comes in. He had one of the more impressive offseasons Meagher said he has ever seen. Jones has improved, too. He won’t be just a running QB this season. But more departures? The Eagles graduated five seniors along the offensive and defensive lines.

MOUNT RAINIER RAMS

Coach: Tremain Mack, sixth year

2014 record: 1-9, fourth in division

Offense: Coordinator (set) — Steve Fenton (multiple I). Top players — RB Frazier Alefaio, 5-9, 175, jr.; RB Edwin Armstead, 5-7, 160, jr.; OL Nic Giamonna, 5-9, 270, jr.; TE Jake Gibbs, 6-3, 200, jr.; K Tyler Keene, 6-2, 160, sr.; QB Kylan Sadettan, 5-10, 190, sr.; WR Vincent Vasquez, 5-10, 165, sr.

Defense: Coordinator (set) — Mack (4-3). Top players — LB Justin Martinez, 5-8, 195, so.; DB AJ Moen, 5-6, 135, so.; DL Keegan Piper, 5-8, 195, so.; DB Sadettan.

Outlook: Mack loves the character kids on this team. Off the field, the school has a program they call the barbershop, where Mack said kids can anonymously share what’s on their minds and that it has helped turn things around at the school. On the field, Martinez led the team in tackles (115) last season — as a freshman. And Sadettan should be a playmaker as a safety and at quarterback.

THOMAS JEFFERSON RAIDERS

Coach: Jeff Zenisek, second year

2014 record: 3-7, third in division

Offense: Coordinator (set) — Jason Torgerson (spread). Returning starters — 6. Top players — QB Mason De La Cruz, 6-1, 175, jr.; OL Jacob Kauhane, 6-3, 310, sr.; RB Kenneth Turner, 6-1, 225, sr.

Defense: Coordinator (set) — Scott Morgan (4-4). Returning starters — 6. Top players — LB Justin Madden, 6-0, 215, sr.; DL Turner.

Outlook: The Raiders return one of the league’s best defensive players in Madden, who finished second in the SPSL in tackles last season with 84. Zenisek, a former Tenino coach, hopes to hit the ground running with the team having a year now to learn the offense, and that’s especially true for second-year starter De La Cruz at QB. Team should be strongest at running back and linebacker.

TODD BEAMER TITANS

Coach: Darren McKay, fourth year

2014 record: 7-4, second in division, lost in first round of state

Offense: Coordinator (set) — Shawn McKay (multiple I). Returning starters — 4. Top players — OL Marcus Salanoa, 6-0, 290, jr.; TE Christian Serrano, 6-2, 215, sr.; OL Daniel Tanielu, 5-11, 243, sr.; RB Andrew Tofaeono, 6-0, 210, sr.

Defense: Coordinator (set) — Darren McKay (4-2-5). Returning starters — 7. Top players — DB Isaiah Lard, 6-1, 175, sr.; DL Lincoln Liulama, 6-3, 210, jr.; Lucky Liulama, 6-2, 280, so.; LB Desmond Nelton, 5-10, 185, jr.; LB Eddie Priymak, 6-1, 210, jr.; DL Tanielu; LB Tofaeono

Outlook: McKay knows what he’s doing in trying to turn programs around, and last year he led Beamer to the playoffs. Its defense was one of the SPSL’s best and should be again this year with a defensive line led by Tanielu, who had nine tackles for loss last season. But Tofaeono will make this team go, both running the ball and as a physical linebacker.

4A SPSL SOUTH

On the Throne

First Teague James, then Shannon Edwards. Who will be Graham-Kapowsin’s next 2,000-yard rusher? The Eagles will try to do that collectively with three or four running backs this time — Kobe Meriweather, Aaron Wright, Villami Hansen and Micah Smith. Certainly doable behind likely the best offensive line in the state.

Change is Good

Emerald Ridge graduated its quarterback, Griffin Meyers, and top two receivers, Brett Rankin and Wainwright Clarke. Enter junior QB Logan Skoda and wide receivers Andrew Boston and Chase McGuire.

By the Numbers

Bethel led the entire 4A SPSL in passing defense last season, allowing just 81.6 yards per game, and was fourth in total defense, just behind Kentwood, Todd Beamer and Graham-Kapowsin. And the Braves return almost everybody, including Boise State commit Ezra Cleveland.

Projected Finish

Graham-Kapowsin (11-2 last year), Bethel (5-5), Curtis (5-6), Emerald Ridge (7-3), Spanaway Lake (4-6), Puyallup (4-6); Rogers (2-8).

Mark the Date

Oct. 30: Graham-Kapowsin at Bethel, 7 p.m., at Art Crate Field

BETHEL BRAVES

Coach: Mark Iddins, second year

2014 record: 5-5, tied for fourth in division

Offense: Coordinator (set) — Iddins (spread). Returning starters — 8. Top players — RB Matthew Booth, 5-10, 180, sr.; OL Ezra Cleveland, 6-6, 295, sr.; OL Max Marion, 6-2, 245, sr.; WR Elijah McLeod, 6-2, 190, sr.; QB Bryce Missey, 6-0, 190, sr.; WR Colin White, 6-1, 180, sr.; OL Dakaline White, 6-2, 235, sr.

Defense: Coordinator (set) — Josh Wise (3-4). Returning starters — 7. Top players — LB Booth; DL Cleveland, LB Ian Davidson, 5-10, 190, sr.; DL Avyion Fisher, 6-2, 250, sr.; DB Jon Jon Taimanglo, 5-11, 180, sr.

Outlook: Year One under Iddins was about getting comfortable. This year? Expect a more opened-up offense behind dual-threat QB Missey, who missed the last half of the season with a concussion. Speaking of injuries, Iddins is ecstatic to have Cleveland back after a torn meniscus, and McLeod, who broke his leg in the first game but still has an offer waiting from Hawaii. Iddins hopes for healthier 2015.

CURTIS VIKINGS

Coach: Chris Paulson, first year

2014 record: 5-6, third in division, lost in district playoffs

Offense: Coordinator (set) — Jeff Glessner (pistol spread option). Returning starters — 7. Top players — WR Tristan Beard, 6-2, 185, sr.; RB Donnell Diego, 5-10, 190, sr.; OL Nicholas Dillard-Tritt, 6-2, 250, sr.; QB Gage Ferguson, 6-2, 200, sr.; OL Cal Helmberger, 6-2, 250, jr.; Elijah Piper, 6-3, 275, sr.

Defense: Coordinator (set) — Jason Anderson (3-3). Returning starters — 9. Top players — DB Beard; DB Diego; DB Daevon Guildford, 5-11, 170, sr.; LB Brady Kelly, 6-2, 220, sr.; LB Hunter Lybbert, 6-1, 195, sr.; DL Trevor Morrow, 6-3, 210, sr.; DL Piper.

Outlook: So much for a rebuilding first year under Paulson. This team is loaded at the skill positions, with Diego at the forefront. He is the South’s top returning offensive player after gaining 1,257 all-purpose yards in eight games last season. And the Vikings return all their starters at linebacker. Development of the offensive line, in a league with some exceptional O-lines, will be key.

EMERALD RIDGE JAGUARS

Coach: Brian Anderson, Torey Donovan, Adam Schakel, Darren Erath, Troy Halfaday, seventh year

2014 record: 7-3, first in division, lost in district playoffs

Offense: Coordinator (set) — Schakel (spread). Returning starters — 4. Top players — WR Andrew Boston, 6-2, 175, jr.; OL Trey Cox, 6-0, 305, sr.; WR Chase McGuire, 6-2, 180, jr.; DJ Resnik, 5-8, 170, sr.; QB Logan Skoda, 5-11, 195, jr.

Defense: Coordinator (set) — Anderson/Erath (4-3). Returning starters — 3. Top players — DB Boston; DL Daniel Flaherty, 5-9, 195, sr.; LB Nate Mace, 6-0, 195, sr.; DB Resnik.

Outlook: What a run last year, huh? The Jaguars shocked the league by winning the South title but have lost so many key pieces, including All-Area pass rusher Brandon Carter. But they do return Flaherty (so what if he’s 5-9?). Passing game could be even better. Skoda enters his first year as the starting QB with big, athletic targets in Boston and McGuire.

GRAHAM-KAPOWSIN EAGLES

Coach: Eric Kurle, 11th year

2014 record: 11-2, second in division, lost in state semifinals

Offense: Coordinator (set) — Kurle (multiple pro). Returning starters — 4. Top players — OL Elijah Lugo, 6-3, 270, sr.; OL De’Andre Houston, 5-9, 235, sr.; WR Dalton Mershon, 6-1, 200, sr.; WR Eian Olmos, 6-1, 190, jr.; OL Foster Sarell, 6-6, 310, jr.; OL Matt Shook, 6-4, 255, jr.

Defense: Coordinator (set) — Travis Robinson (4-2-5). Returning starters — 4. Top players — LB Ezra Bolton, 6-2, 190, sr.; OL Trae Hawthorne, 5-9, 175, sr.; DL Kyle Matheny, 6-1, 210, sr.; DL Jeramey Thesenvitz, 6-3, 220, jr.; DB Aaron Wright, 5-9, 170, sr.

Outlook: If most of high school football teams are looking more like college programs with no-huddle spread offenses, then consider G-K an NFL team. Its pro-style system is built behind a road-grading offensive line (led by super recruit Sarell) that Kurle said is the most talented and deep he’s had in 22 years total as a coach. And freshman QB Dylan Morris has looked as good as any QB he’s had.

PUYALLUP VIKINGS

Coach: Gary Jeffers, sixth year

2014 record: 4-6, tied for fourth in division

Offense: Coordinator (set) — Ray Brassard (multiple). Returning starters — 8. Top players — RB Taje Davis, 5-6, 180, sr.; QB Nathaniel Holcomb, 6-1, 180, jr.; WR Orlando McDaniel, 6-0, 175, sr.; WR Dominic McNeal, 5-10, 175, sr.

Defense: Coordinator (set) — John Garden (3-5-3). Returning starters — 4. Top players — DB Davis; DB Holcomb, DB McDaniel, DB McNeal.

Outlook: Jeffers said he has seen a matured Holcomb, who’s entering his junior year after being sidelined with a concussion for most of last season. And the Vikings have seven other starters back on offense. The problem? Not a lot of depth. Jeffers is crossing his fingers no injuries derail the team. And they’ll need Davis to shine at running back to keep the offense balanced.

ROGERS RAMS

Coach: Gene Bowen, 12th year

2014 record: 2-8, seventh in division

Offense: Coordinator (set) — Dane Looker (multiple). Returning starters — 5. Top players — WR Koby Barker, 6-1, 165, jr.; WR Cade Barrett, 6-1, 155, jr.; QB Jordan Bishop, 6-0, 180, sr.; OL Noah Elliott, 6-2, 220, sr.; OL Noah Howell, 6-2, 240, sr.; WR Branden Ingles, 5-10, 155, sr.; RB Travis Tucker, 5-9, 170, sr.; OL Zaid Velasco, 5-10, 195, sr.

Defense: Coordinator (set) — Andy Armstrong (4-2-5). Returning starters — 7. Top players –DB Caleb Darnell, 5-10, 175, sr.; LB Elliott; DL Tausili Gago, 6-4, 215, sr.; DB Troy Johnston, 6-0, 175, sr.; DL Zac Robbins, 5-9, 220, sr. LB Austin Sprankle, 5-9, 205, sr.

Outlook: This won’t be the breakneck-pace offense of years past. With Looker — a former St. Louis Rams receiver, UW grad and Puyallup alum — now in charge of the offense, you might even see a few huddles this year. Bowen said he likes the team’s confidence heading into the season, and something he feels especially confident about is the receivers, even with All-Area receiver Kyler Ooley now at Central Washington.

SPANAWAY LAKE SENTINELS

Coach: John Robak, 21st year

2014 record: 4-6, tied for fourth in division

Offense: Coordinator (set) — Robak (pistol). Returning starters — 6. Top players — OL Evin Corioso, 5-10, 290, sr.; QB Ramon Gutierrez, 5-10, 190, sr.; OL Leitumalo Hunkin, 6-0, 290, jr.; TE Leroy Lawrence, 6-1, 225, sr.; OL Dyriece Milholland, 6-5, 270, sr.; OL Nathan Scanlan, 6-0, 340, jr.; WR Kevin Utley, 6-0, 185, sr.; WR Marvin Williams, 5-8, 150, jr.

Defense: Coordinator (set) — Muckie Foreman (4-3/4-2). Returning starters — 6. Top players — LB Braxton Blue, 6-0, 220, jr.; DB Lovell Goodrum, 6-3, 190, sr.; DL Lawrence; DL Scanlan; DB Utley.

Outlook: The South’s sleeper team: Offensive line is strong, physical and massive. Robak knows it’s the without-a-doubt strength of the team. Key will be how the pieces around them develop. Quarterback Gutierrez brings some senior leadership, with key for him being to play as turnover-free as possible. Williams can complement all that power with speed on the outside.

t.cotterill@thenewstribune.com

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