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Gridiron stars ready to kickoff season
The sound of popping pads will be on display tonight as the majority of high school football programs in Washington will kick off their season under the bright glare of Friday night lights. Below the Bellevue Reporter takes a look at how the Bellevue Wolverines, Newport Knights, Bellevue Christian Vikings, Sammamish Totems and Interlake Saints will fare on the football field this fall.
Head coach: Butch Goncharoff (15th year)
Last year: 14-0 overall (Won its sixth consecutive Class 3A state football championship)
Key players: Ross Connors, OLB; Ryan Gilbert, WR/CB; Henry Roberts, OL/DL; Justus Rogers, QB; Mustafa Branch, MLB; Isaiah Gilchrist, RB/DB; Sam Richmond, DB/RB.
The Bellevue Wolverines football program has won six consecutive state championships and has captured 11 state titles in the past 13 years. Washington’s best high school football program will face Serra High School out of Gardena, Calif. in the season opener at San Diego’s Honor Bowl at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 6 in Oceanside. Wolverines’ assistant coach Rick Brown said they have been looking forward to that game since the 2014 schedule was released. Prior to the game, players from both sides will have an opportunity to meet with veterans and soldiers from Camp Pendleton.
“That game has been circled on the calendar. We’re pretty excited about it and we know its going to be a very, very good game. They’re a formidable opponent and they mirror us in a lot of ways. It’s going to be an interesting matchup and will be a battle of supremacy in the national rankings,” Brown said. CBS MaxPreps ranked Bellevue as the No. 22 team in the nation and Serra as the No. 9 team in a late-August poll.
The Wolverines know every opponent they face will bring their “A” game. Winning six consecutive state championships has that effect on a football program.
“Week in, and week out everybody we face gets up for their game against us. We try to keep the pressure off our guys and tell them the focus is to understand what they’re supposed to do, what is expected of them and to go out and do their job,” Brown said.
Brown said the coaching staff works tirelessly to ensure every player on the team does things the right way on and off the football field.
“As coaches, we want to make sure the wheels stay greased and we continue to do what we do on the football field, but at the same time we want to create an atmosphere that is about much more than just football. We want our players to be respectful and once they leave high school we want them to be prepared for the next step of their life,” he said.
BELLEVUE CHRISTIAN VIKINGS
Head coach: Todd Green (second year)
Last year: 3-7 overall (Didn’t advance to playoffs)
Key players: Dylan Parsons, RB/DB; David Postma, LB/QB; Taylor Paulson, CB/WR; Daniel Young, OL/DL.
Experience on the gridiron will be one of the strengths of the Bellevue Christian football team this season. The Vikings football program is returning a bevy of players with varsity experience this year.
“We’re a veteran team and are definitely not on the green side,” Bellevue Christian head coach Todd Green said.
Green said defensive back Taylor Paulson has been an impressive force during the first few weeks of practice.
“Taylor is an all-league kind of player,” he said. “He’s not very big and people challenge him all the time. He’s got great technique and is a great tackler.”
The Vikings will play six non-league games this season against opponents they’ve never faced before. The majority of those contests will come against teams a significant amount of miles away.
“We’re excited about the competition (non-league games). We have two games on the other side of the mountains (eastern Washington). We’re looking forward to our game against Chelan. That will be an overnight trip for us,” Green said.
The Vikings don’t care about who gets the individual accolades and play for each other.
“We have built really great chemistry and the kids have put in the work over the summer,” Green said. “They have a lot of character and play for each other regardless of the score.”
Head coach: David Myers (Second year)
Last year: 1-9 overall (Didn’t advance to playoffs)
Key players: David Jones, WR/S; De’Jhion Parrish, David Khanatayev, OL/DL; Nathan Levi, OL/DL; Vamsi Anam, OL/DL; Tieler Sheheen, TE/DE; Jason Rodriguez, WR/DB; Zeek Argon, LB; Billy Jensen, QB/DB; Duncan Varela, QB; Anthony Karymsakov, OL/DL; Naoki Harmer, WR/DB; Amahn Edwards, LB/RB
The Interlake football team has put last year’s one-win season behind them.
David Myers, who is in his second year at Interlake after coaching at Garfield High School in Seattle the previous two seasons, said his squad looked great in spring practice sessions this past June and that momentum has carried over into August practice sessions.
“Obviously last year was really tough for us, but I feel like we’ve had a great spring and summer. I can’t wait to see these guys in live competition. I’m really excited for that,” Myers said.
The Saints will open the season on the road against the Foster Bulldogs at 7 p.m. tonight in Tukwila. Myers was an assistant coach at Foster in 2007.
The head coach said he will start a sophomore at quarterback in the opener. Sophomores Billy Jensen and Duncan Varala are battling for the starting job during practice sessions. Myers hadn’t made a decision on who would be under center against Foster as of press time.
“Both Billy and Duncan look really good right now,” Myers said during Aug. 26 practice. “Both are really good fits for our offense.”
Head coach: Drew Oliver (First year)
Last year: 8-3 overall (lost to Bellarmine Prep in first round of Class 4A state playoffs)
Key players: Calvin Throckmorton, OL/DL; Paul Wells, RB/DB; Nolan Richardson, OL/DL; Chris Halamek, OL/DL; Eric Smith, RB/DB; Joe Costello, TE/LB; Nick Keithley, RB/LB; Jordan Sanberg, QB/DB; David Kim, RB/LB; Dylan Murphy, TE/DL.
A new face will be calling the shots along the sidelines in 2014 for the Newport Knights football program.
Drew Oliver, who accumulated 31 victories in five seasons with the Hazen Bulldogs, was hired as Newport's newest head coach this past February.
Oliver said offensive lineman Calvin Throckmorton, Chris Halamek, Nolan Richardson and running back Eric Smith have emerged as team leaders during the early juncture of the season. The Knights plan to run the ball efficiently behind their hulking offensive line. Throckmorton has committed to play football for the University of Oregon.
"We have solid senior leadership and have an experienced offensive and defensive line," Oliver said. "We work hard each practice to get better with a goal of competing to win a league title in the toughest league (KingCo 4A) in the state."
Head coach: Todd Craig (First year)
Last year: 1-9 overall (Didn't advance to the playoffs)
Key players: Jordan Sanders, OL/DL; Dominick Hampton, WR/FS; Kobe Vaifoou, OL/DL; Scott Kautz, LB/RB; Ben Friedman, LB/RB.
A new face will be calling the plays along the sidelines for the Sammamish Totems' football program.
Todd Craig, who spent the past six years as running backs coach with the Bellevue Wolverines, is excited to have the opportunity to run his own program.
"I wanted a new challenge and the opportunity at Sammamish presented itself. They've got great kids here and the community is very supportive," Craig said.
Craig said his players are embracing the culture that he and is coaching staff have unveiled in the first year of his tenure.
"We made some real strides in the off-season. The guys have committed to a year-around program and our turnout numbers over previous years are up. The turnout isn't as high as we would like it to be, but we will continue to grow as a team and create that tradition," he said. "The hard work will continue to pay off."
Having a vast array of different personalities on the coaching staff is something Craig thought was of utmost importance.
"I'm a very even-keeled and think through the strategy kind of a coach. I try to surround myself with guys who are going to have different ideas and different personalities. We have assistants who have different roles and different ways of reaching players," he said.
Craig has a run first, pass-second mentality. Sanders, who is a three-year starter on the offensive line, and fellow lineman Kobe Vaifoou will be the guys up front plowing open running lanes for Totems' ball-carriers.
Shaun Scott: 425-453-5045; firstname.lastname@example.org