High School Sports

2A EvCo football preview: Predictions, primers, team capsules

Tumwater senior Cade Otton led the Thunderbirds with 138 tackles last season and is committed to attending the University of Washington after graduation.
Tumwater senior Cade Otton led the Thunderbirds with 138 tackles last season and is committed to attending the University of Washington after graduation. toverman@theolympian.com

BLACK HILLS WOLVES

Coach: Kirk Stevens, third year

2015 record: 9-2, second in 2A EvCo; lost in first round of state playoffs.

Offense: Coordinator (set) — Don Means (spread). Returning starters — 5. Top players — OL Austen Daisa, 6-2, 275, sr.; RB Conner Furu, 6-0, 215, sr.; OL Justin Gudaz, 6-3, 200, sr.; OL Cooper Kerlee, 6-3, 285, sr.; QB Christian Williams, 5-9, 165, sr.

Defense: Coordinator (set) — Ross Rollman (3-4). Returning starters — 4. Top players — LB Drew Kimmel, 6-0, 195, sr.; DB Kyler Nygren, 5-8, 165, sr.; DB Wyatt Rollman, 6-0, 170, jr.; DE James Tobin, 6-0, 250, jr.

Outlook: Williams returns from an impressive 1,556-yard, 19-touchdown season, but don’t expect the Wolves to be as pass-heavy as previous years. Three veterans (Daisa, Gudaz and Kerlee) are back on the offensive line to make room for a stellar rushing attack that features Furu, who averaged 8.5 yards per carry and scored 11 touchdowns before a season-ending collarbone injury. Speedy sophomore transfer Jaden Toussaint is also in the mix. He rushed for 400 yards on 39 carries and six touchdowns in limited time at Olympia last season. Black Hills was ranked tied for 10th in The Associated Press’s Class 2A preseason poll.

CENTRALIA TIGERS

Coach: Matt Whitmire, fourth year

2015 record: 3-6, fourth in 2A EvCo; lost in regional round.

Offense: Coordinator — Jon Rooklidge (spread). Returning starters — 5. Top players — QB Joey Aliff, 6-0, 195, sr.; OL Nick Edwards, 6-4, 270, jr.; RB Nathan Yahn, 6-0, 175, sr.

Defense: Coordinator — Matt Whitmire (4-4). Returning starters — 4. Top players — DL Brayden Andrews, 5-11, 220, sr.; LB Derek VanDeLaarschot, 6-0, 170, sr.

Outlook: Whitmire is looking for a breakout year from Aliff, who finished 61 of 118 for 743 yards and eight touchdowns last season. The offensive and defensive lines will be the strengths, led by Edwards and three-year starter Andrews (53 tackles at defensive end). VanDeLaarschot added another 93 tackles last season.

TUMWATER T-BIRDS

Coach: Sid Otton, 43rd year

2015 record: 13-1, first in 2A EvCo; lost state championship game.

Offense: Coordinator — Jamie Weeks (wing-T). Returning starters — 3. Top players — QB Noah Andrews, 6-0, 180, sr.; TE Cade Otton, 6-6, 225, sr.; RB Trayten Rodriguez, 5-11, 160, sr.

Defense: Coordinator — Pat Alexander (multiple). Returning starters — 7. Top players — DB Noah Andrews, 6-0, 180, sr.; DL Cy Hicks, 6-2, 245, jr.; LB Caleb Jelcick, 6-0, 200, sr.; DB Zach Jones, 5-11, 185, sr.; LB Andrew May, 6-2, 190, sr.; LB Cade Otton, 6-6, 225, sr.; DB Trayten Rodriquez, 5-11, 160, sr.

Outlook: Much is about to change for this program, which topped the AP’s Class 2A preseason poll. Storied coach Sid Otton, who has led Tumwater to all five of its state titles (1987, 1989, 1990, 1993, 2010), will retire at the end of the season, along with longtime assistants Alexander and Steve Shoun. The T-Birds have lost in the 2A state championship game three of the past four years, and are fueled with emotion for another shot behind Cade Otton, a University of Washington commit, who led Tumwater with 138 tackles last season. Andrews will take over at quarterback after playing a significant amount in the postseason as a junior, and the defense is set with several returners.

W.F. WEST BEARCATS

Coach: Bob Wollan, 11th year

2015 record: 6-5, third in 2A EvCo; lost in first round of state playoffs.

Offense: Coordinator — Bob Wollan (multiple). Returning starters — 6. Top players — OL Hunter Arredondo, 6-6, 290, sr.; RB Austin Emery, 6-0, 180, sr.; OL Tyler Pallas, 6-1, 230, sr.

Defense: Coordinator — Jaime Rakavich (4-3). Returning starters — 7. Top players — DL Kevin Clevenger, 6-2, 240, jr.; DB Tyson Guerrero, 5-11, 170, jr.; DB Dakota Hawkins, 6-0, 190, jr.; LB Colby Steen, 5-8, 185, sr.; DB Nole Wollan, 6-0, 185, jr.

Outlook: Most programs suggest they live and die by the offensive and defensive lines, but that’s especially true for the Bearcats this year. Stud quarterback Elijah Johnson graduated, but the offensive line returns Pallas (first-team all-2A EvCo) and Arredondo, who will try to make room for junior quarterback Nole Wollan, starting for the first time this season. The Bearcats also return a pair of all-league defenders in Clevenger and Steen.

Lauren Smith: 360-754-5473, @smithlm12

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