Tomorrow marks the start of 23 weeks of madness.
With 14 college football games on slate for tomorrow, the season is back and in a big way: for the next 23 weeks, high school, college and professional football will dominate your Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
With that in mind, what better time to take a look at the state of football in Washington, from the Seahawks to the Saints of Interlake High School.
Seattle Seahawks: Sunday, Sept. 7th is rapidly approaching. That’s the day the Seahawks travel to Buffalo to take on the Bills in the season opener for both squads. Through half of its preseason games, the Seahawks managed to stay healthy [Due to Reporter deadlines, this column was written before Seattle’s Aug. 25 game against the Chargers], and that’s a good thing. Seattle knows it will be without Bobby Engram and Deion Branch, so there aren’t any surprises there. The only seemingly alarming injury is quarterback Matt Hasselbeck’s ailing back, but by all indications, No. 8 will be under center come game time in Buffalo.
Washington Huskies: No hamstring in recent history has attracted as much attention as that of Washington quarterback Jake Locker; the sophomore signal caller has elevated himself to that of a legend in Montlake after only two years.
Thus, when Locker went down with a bad hammy in camp, UW fans had to be talked down from the balcony. Locker should be OK to start Saturday’s season opener at Autzen Stadium in Eugene against the Ducks, who will be without their quarterback, Nate Costa, who suffered a knee injury during a team practice last week and is out for an unspecified amount of time. The question this season is if UW will win enough games to save Ty Willingham’s job. With a difficult non-conference schedule, a 6-6 record would possibly be overachievement on the part of the Huskies.
Washington State Cougars: The big story with the Cougars will be how quickly first-year head coach Paul Wulff adjusts himself to life in the Pac-10. Wulff has said he’ll run the same quick spread offense he perfected at Eastern Washington, but that will be difficult with so many questions at wide receiver for the Cougars.
Wulff can count on one receiver though; Brandon Gibson is arguably the best Pac-10 wideout, and will provide the Cougars with one solid option. Gibson averaged more than 100 yards receiving a game last season.
Bellevue Wolverines: Bellevue looks to be the team to beat in the new-look KingCo 3A conference. After Skyline, Issaquah and Newport took their acts to the 4A ranks, Bellevue is the only returning playoff team in the conference. Early tests, including non-conference games against Central Catholic of Portland, Ore., California High School and Bothell, should show if the Wolverines are ready to make a run back to the Tacoma Dome.
Interlake Saints: The “Notre Dame” of high school football, as coach Sheldon Cross called his team, the Saints are looking only to amass enough wins to get to a play-in game for the 2A state playoffs. Although competing in KingCo 3A, the Saints are a 2A school and will compete in the 2A postseason. With All-KingCo running back Brett Kirschner pacing the squad, look for Interlake to make an impact in its first season in 2A.
Newport Knights: Newport may face the biggest challenge of any team making the leap to 4A this season. Returning only two starters on each side of the ball, the Knights will have to survive a brutal schedule in order to return to the state playoffs. But Newport also may have an ace up its sleeve: the Knights will be the only team in the KingCo 4A conference to run the Wing-T offense, a change from past seasons where teams had multiple looks at the offense during the year.
Sammamish Totems: Year 2 in the Edd Webb era begins Sept. 5 when the Totems host Chief Sealth at Sammamish High School. It will mark the first time in four years that Patrick Rooney hasn’t been behind center for the Totems, who finished 1-9 last season.
If you’re a football fan, the next 23 weeks will be pure joy, from the kickoff of the college football year until the Super Bowl champions are crowned. It’s sure to be a crazy ride.
Joel Willits is the sports reporter for the Bellevue Reporter. He can be reached at 425-453-5045 or at email@example.com.