The players may change from year to year, but expectations for the Bellevue Wolverines football team remains the same — to win a championship.
Second-year head coach Michael Kneip is familiar with the expectations that come with suiting up for the Wolverines. Kneip won four state titles as a lineman for the Wolverines before playing with the University of Washington.
“At a program like this, it’s state championship or bust,” Kneip said. “That’s always the standard you want in anything in life.”
Bellevue’s offense is renowned for its running game. Kneip said they will have some different looks offensively this year, but at the end of the day they are going to be true to themselves.
“We’re not going to change,” Kneip said. “We’re gonna run the ball. We have six offensive line coaches for a reason.”
One of the keys to the running game will be junior running back Alex Reid, who is poised for a big year. Kneip said Reid had a great season last year, even though it was overshadowed at times by running back Drew Fowler, who graduated last year.
“I think Alex Reid is the best football player in the state,” Kneip said. The Wolverines will be relying on their returning players like Reid, but there will be plenty of young players ready to step up this year.
“There’s so many new faces,” Kneip said. “You lose so many seniors from last year and you can’t really teach that game experience.”
The Wolverines will have sophomores playing at some key positions this fall, including Peter Netelenbos, a 5-11, 230-pound junior center.
“You go from playing freshman football to varsity and you play against guys like defensive end J.T. (Tuimoloaus from Eastside Catholic),” Kneip said. “You gotta grow up fast.”
The difficult schedule, beginning with Central Valley, will require the young Wolverines to step into their new roles quickly.
“Central Valley is a really good opponent,” Kneip said. “They’re big, strong, fast and really well coached. Everyone in KingCo is good, it’s really evened out. I think all the other teams see these next couple years as an opportunity to get after us a little bit.”
Sept. 7 home vs. Central Valley, 1 p.m.
Sept. 13 at Newport, 7 p.m.
Sept. 20 home vs. Garfield, 7 p.m.
Sept. 27 home vs. Camas, 7 p.m.
Oct. 4 home vs. Lake Washington, 7 p.m.
Oct. 11 at Interlake, 7 p.m.
Oct. 18 home vs. Liberty, 7 p.m.
Oct. 25 at Juanita, 7 p.m.
Nov. 1 home vs. Mercer Island, 7 p.m.
* Check next week’s issue for football previews on Sammamish High and Bellevue Christian.