Despite graduating several playmakers last year – including Wisconsin recruit Walker Williams – the Crusaders will look to senior quarterback Taylor Martindale to lead them back to the playoffs.
“I really think you’re going to see a breakout year for Taylor,” said Crusaders head coach Mark Smith. “If Taylor gets on a roll, at our level, he’s as good as any QB in the state.”
Helping Martindale in the backfield will be senior hybrid running back/wide receiver Brandon Hughey, and senior tight end Drew Jordan will also be key to the passing attack.
The Crusaders are young up front, but are led by senior Caleb Wolf, a three-year starter on the line. Smith expects fellow senior Isaiah Kazarovich, junior Jonathan Halstensen, sophomore Kyle Kliewer and freshman Tony Porter to be big on the line as well.
Wolf and Elijah Kazarovich will look to bring pressure from the defensive end spot, while Jordan and Hughey lead the linebacker corps. Martindale will also lead the defensive backfield at free safety, and the Crusaders will be young at the corner spots.
Smith noted that the success of his squad ultimately depends on Martindale, Hughey and Jordan. “If you have three playmakers, you’re usually in pretty good shape. And they cover all the bases.”
“It’s an interesting mix,” he added of his relatively young squad, “but the potential for them to be pretty good by the end of the year is there.”
By Jeremy Helling
The Tarriers will look to make a deeper playoff run this season, as they return several experienced, versatile playmakers.
Senior quarterback Fritz Jacobson will once again lead the spread offense after throwing for over 1,400 yards last year, and dynamic running back Colin Reynolds is dangerous in space. Bruising 235-pound fullback Raheem Hughey will do damage in the middle, and Nick Ho rounds out the talented senior backfield.
The line will be solid as well, as three-year starters Drew Vipond and ShiQuise Moore are joined by 6-foot-4, 335-pound Gig Harbor transfer Robert Luke, Jr.
“The story of our season is going to be on the offensive line,” said head coach Mike Finch. “We’ve got so much experience up there. We’re big, we’re strong – we’re going to open some holes.”
Beau Iverson, a 6-foot-8, 265-pound tight end, will be a big key for the passing game and is a dominant defensive end. Collin Hungate adds ability at receiver, and speedster Alexander Moore is another weapon.
Austin Harlow and Bryant Grider form a solid linebacker group with Moore and Vipond, while Wunmi Oyetuga is another two-way starter on the defensive line with Luke and Iverson. Robert Kyler is a talented corner that will help lead the defensive backfield, while Hungate covers a lot of ground at free safety.
“We’re really excited,” said Finch, adding the Tarriers can threaten for their first league championship since 1989. “A lot of these guys have high expectations for themselves. They don’t just want to be good, they want to be great.”
By Jeremy Helling
Many questions need to be answered early for the Eagles entering the 2012 season. With many starters gone from last year’s 5-4 squad you would think it would be time to panic. Not so, says head coach Ross Hjelseth.
“We have many players back who played a lot of minutes last year, and that will be a big factor,” said the veteran Eagle coach who is ready to begin his 19th season.
Anchoring the Eagles’ offensive line will be junior Kevin Breen and senior Chase Knoblauch. The skill positions are in good shape for the Eagles with junior quarterback Taylor Roelofs, junior running back Lionel Hampton and junior wide receiver Kyle Goodman.
On the defensive side, Breen and Knoblauch will anchor the front line and they’ll be joined by junior Vlad Rudenko.
Sophomore Fesili Wynn will lead the way for defensive coordinator and ex-Eagle Morgan Cox’s 4-3 scheme. Having to replace a lot of starters is always a daunting task but Hjelseth feels his young Eagles will be up to it. “The players that we have coming back all had a lot of playing time last year in crucial late-season games, and I think they’ll respond to the challenge this year in a tough and balanced Nisqually 1A league.”
By Steve Mullen
The Vikings will rely heavily on senior running back E.J. Deveaux once again this year, as the returning 1,000-yard rusher will look to ease the transition to a new quarterback.
“We’re going to move him around to try to get him the ball in the open field,” said head coach Clay Angle. “He can make people miss, so part of our plan is to get him the ball.”
Junior Scott Wismer – a converted tight end – will take over at quarterback, and Angle noted that the Vikings will take advantage of his speed by incorporating more option this season.
Senior Anthony Davis switches from wide receiver to the tight end position, while Gig Harbor transfer Carter McKay will take over at receiver and junior Jerrik Bailey and sophomore Jason Williams will make an impact as well.
The Vikings are solid up front, led by 6-foot-4, 280-pound seniors Zach Budnick and Chris Coffin. Fellow seniors Alex Coy, Forrest Vig and Andrew Potter-Maul add to the line experience, and junior Tanner Amell mans the center spot.
Defensively, Angle calls senior linebacker Calvin McClain the “quarterback of the defense,” while juniors Jacob Budnick, Darius Riddley and Odessa Mendoza form an athletic defensive line. Deveaux and Davis lead the defensive backfield, and kicker Jared Kingery returns to shore up the special teams.
“We go into the season thinking we’re competing for a league championship,” Angle said.
“We’re excited about what’s ahead of us.”
By Jeremy Helling
With the loss of 26 seniors off of last year’s squad, Lakes faces the upcoming season the same way they do every year – with unbridled optimism and another run at the 3A state title.
“We have a system that centers around speed and discipline, and these players bought into that a long time ago,” said coach Dave Miller, now in his 13th year as the Lancers’ head coach. “Those are the keys to our success.”
The deepest position will be at wide receiver, with Sammie Long, Marquin Russell, Caleb Lyons and Benning Potoa’e providing Lakes good targets for quarterback Rhys Gervais. Talent abounds on the defensive side, too, with Gerald Goldwire, Dominic Milton, Potoa’e and Kevin Thompson providing the spark.
Tough schedules are a way of life at Lakes, and this year is no exception. Woodinville, Bellarmine and Peninsula comprise some of the early action for the perennial 3A contending Lancers.
“Changes come year after year here at Lakes, but with the kids that we have in our system we expect to compete and win each and every year,” said Miller.
By Steve Mullen
Battling a numbers game on the turnout side of things has not fazed coach Jon Randall, now in his ninth year as the head coach of the Warriors. Challenges are some of the things that he relishes.
“We got through our two-a-days all right, but with some player departures it has really hurt our depth,” he said.
But Clover Park is not without talent. On the offensive side of the ball, the interior line will provide much of the spark.
“Vela Faitalia will anchor our line. They should be very good by season’s end if not before,” Randall said.
Brady Daly should carry the load on offense at tailback, and should also excel on the defensive side, too. Helping to carry the load on defense are Brandon Pritchett and Cordell Nelson, with the hope that some of the youngsters will step early in the season. With youth in abundance at Clover Park, Randall sees some light at the end of the tunnel.
“The SPSL 2A should really be balanced this year. If we can stay healthy and get some good early season performances from some of the younger Warriors, we might be able to stay in the hunt till the end.”
By Steve Mullen
For blog updates on this weekend’s featured games visit The Daily Mash-Up at http://www.tacomaweekly.com/dailymashup.