As the end of summer quickly approaches, the excitement is growing quickly on local football fields. Coaching changes and a new crop of talent have highlighted the offseasons for local squads, and we begin our 2012 High School Football Previews by taking a look at the six local Narrows League Teams. We will preview Curtis, Lakes, Clover Park, Life Christian, Charles Wright and Tacoma Baptist in the Aug. 31 edition.
Success breeds success. This has been the case on the hill the last three years, and that should be the case again in 2012 with a 4A championship well within reach of a talented group of players.
The offense is summed up in one word – loaded. Senior quarterback Sefo Liufau leads a group that features three three-year starters on the offensive line.
“With Sefo at the helm it gives you a great deal of confidence,” said head coach Tom Larsen, beginning his 10th year at his alma mater.
Macartney McQuery, Matthew McDougal and Kevin Kors lead a group that also includes Michael Ota to give the Lions one of the best offensive lines in the state.
With the recent departure of running back Isaiah Flynn, the Lions will go with Lou Millie and Brandon Thompson in the backfield, with Calvin Chandler at wide receiver to give opposing defensive coordinators many sleepless nights. The defensive side of the ball has a little more work to do, but look for Millie, Chandler and Thompson to see a lot of action there too.
As the 2012 season progresses, Larsen has to make sure of one thing – don’t look ahead to the anticipated showdown with Olympia in the capital city.
“The league title could be on the line, but I have a lot of confidence in our senior leadership,” he said.
Having reached the state semifinals in 2010 and the quarterfinals in 2011, don’t count out the first Saturday in December at the Tacoma Dome for this group of hungry Lions.
By Steve Mullen
The Tigers are young and athletic, but will have to restock their numbers after 23 seniors graduated last year – including three-year starting quarterback Tyler Stumph. Head coach Jess Nelson has switched athletic wide receiver Tre Scott – at 5-foot-10, 170 pounds – to quarterback to man the Wing-T attack.
“Tre brings a lot more athleticism, so I’m sure you’ll see him running the football a lot more than the previous five years we’ve been here,” Nelson said.
Junior Nick Loftin will be the feature back out of the backfield, and displays great quickness and pass-catching ability. Senior tight end Jacob Bills and senior wide receiver Jonathan Buchholtz will make plays in the passing game as well.
Senior linemen Cooper Hayes and Christian Tabile will look to lead the charge up front, while also serving as starting linebackers on the defense. Loftin also serves as an outside linebacker, as the Tigers will emphasize bringing pressure in their 3-5 defensive scheme.
With younger players being forced to step up, Nelson noted that the group has been receptive and very quick to learn.
“A real strength is that team cohesion and working together,” said Nelson. “There’s a real coachability, there’s no egos. That makes it a really fun group. We’ve got some real talent, but it’s going to be a group effort. Some years you’ve got that key guy – this year it’s all hands on deck.”
By Jeremy Helling
The Thunderbirds have a lot of production to replace on offense, but several athletes are in the competition at key positions.
Senior basketball standout Michael Rollins will attempt to step in at quarterback, but Shawn Tatum and Adrian Allen are in the running as well.
“They’re all good athletes,” said head coach Kevin Hanis. “I’m comfortable with all three of them.”
The competition at running back is open as well, with senior Zach Holt returning to lead the group. Chris Keyes and Isaiah Hudson should get some carries, while Parshay Small is a newcomer who is really catching Hanis’ eye.
The receivers are solid, with senior Jakob Wilson and sophomore Keshawn Craig displaying athleticism on the outside.
“That’s actually going to be the strength of our team,” Hanis noted. Joey Gillies returns to man the tight end position while doubling as a defensive end, while seniors Sampson Williams and Schrien Vong and junior Nehemiah Barr will be key up front as well. Senior Sam Carroll was switched from running back to lineman to add depth, and senior Luis Montecinos, at 290 pounds, should add bulk on the defensive side.
Holt, Hudson and Small should make and impact at linebacker for the Thunderbirds, who switched down the 3A ranks this year.
“It’s every bit as competitive as 4A, I don’t see much of a drop,” Hanis said. “It’s fun to play against the Tacoma schools…there’s a variety of different offenses and defenses to deal with.”
By Jeremy Helling
To say an air of excitement rings the field at venerable Lincoln Bowl is an understatement. Jon Kitna, former Abe and 15-year NFL veteran, returns to his alma mater to turn around the fortunes of Abe football.
“I’m very pleased with the physical condition my team is in, they had a great spring and summer workout-wise,” Kitna said.
Leading the Abe attack will be freshman quarterback Jordan Kitna, son of the head coach, who possesses good athletic ability and a strong arm. His main target on the outside will be senior wide receiver Joshua Eckwood, who gives Kitna a big target at 6-foot-2.
Quinn Bell, at 6-foot-6, and Eric Cooper, who fills out at 250 pounds, gives the Abes a lot of push up front. The tailback position will be in the capable hands of Jonathan Hardnett.
On the defensive side, the Abes will be strong up front with 6-foot-5, 290-pound Mark Alapati and 6-foot-4, 265-pound Jamarae Finnie clogging the line of scrimmage. The defensive backfield will be led by senior Tayvon Murray.
The Narrows 3A should be a real dogfight, and Kitna wants to instill a real attitude early in his troops. “The tough conditioning during the summer got these kids off to a great start, we have the athletic ability to compete and we have to instill this in our kids game-in and game-out.”
By Steve Mullen
With two injury-filled, sub-par seasons behind them, the Wilson Rams are looking forward to the 2012 campaign. Don Clegg begins his 25th year in west Tacoma with a lot of optimism, and there’s good reason for it.
The Dean of Tacoma coaches will have a lot of talent to work with, including multi-talented quarterback Moses Lewis, tailback Devin Phillips, wide receiver James Sivonon and tight end Jake Ferris to go along with a veteran offensive line.
“We were really young the last two years, and these players have grown up some and are ready for a good season this year,” said Clegg.
Wilson will be talented on the defensive side, too. The defensive backfield will be especially strong with Ben Matz, David Chen and Malik Moreno leading the way, while Ferris will be a force at linebacker.
Clegg bought back some faces from the past on the coaching staff to instill some grit to this group. Ahmad Robinson and Anthony Matthews bring back some attitude from the glory days of the late 90’s. With the addition of both Shelton and Mount Tahoma to the 3A ranks, Clegg sees a real dogfight for the league title.
“We’d like to think we would have a chance to win this thing if we can stay healthy. Timberline and North Thurston will have a slight advantage going in.”
By Steve Mullen
Having just taken over the job last spring, Pat Johnson is already making an impact for the Falcons. Participation numbers are up in the mid-40’s and the Falcons return several experienced players as they look to rebuild the program.
“We’re athletic and football smart,” said Johnson. “They seem to pick up coverages well, pick up schemes well. They’re a very close-knit group.”
Junior quarterback Nick Burton will run the Falcons’ spread attack, and Michael Mason wil man the fullback spot after suffering a shoulder injury last year. Junior running backs Baacari Kiner and Malik Smith bring quickness and should get a bulk of the carries. Junior Marcellus Potts and 6-foot-3 sophomore Chris Reynolds – a transfer from Idaho – will make an impact at wide receiver.
Dowell Freeland and JaRon Artis provide size at tackle, and Patiole Pesefea should make an impact on both sides of the line. Tight end Ryan Cole is talented, but may be asked to serve as an offensive linemen as well as starting at defensive end. Alonzo Jones and Jeff Lord are playmakers at defensive back, and Mason and John Moore will lead the linebacker corps.
The Falcons look to rebound from having gone 1-19 the last two seasons, but Johnson said the focus is entirely on the future.
“We’re looking to play all four quarters, no matter the situation,” said Johnson. “There’s going to be bumps in the road. We’re going to lose a game, we’re going to let up a big play – it’s going to happen. So how do we react to it?”
By Jeremy Helling