Wolverines quarterback Joey Echigoshima rumbles for yardage against the Mercer Island Islanders in October of 2017. Echigoshima will be in his second season as the starting quarterback this fall. Photo courtesy of Don Borin/Stop Action Photography

Wolverines quarterback Joey Echigoshima rumbles for yardage against the Mercer Island Islanders in October of 2017. Echigoshima will be in his second season as the starting quarterback this fall. Photo courtesy of Don Borin/Stop Action Photography

Wolverines will be tested by formidable schedule

Michael Kneip lands head coaching job at his alma mater.

A new face will be running the show on the sidelines for the Bellevue Wolverines football team.

Michael Kneip, who played college football at the University of Washington, was hired as the Wolverines’ new head football coach this past May. Kneip, who won four state titles as a player during his high school career with the Wolverines, was a volunteer assistant on the Wolverines staff during the 2017 season. He replaces Mark Landes who resigned in March after leading the Wolverines football program for the past two seasons.

“When I first got hired, it was kind of disbelief. It is one of those things. I grew up here (Bellevue) and played all the way through my senior year. My family is really tied to this program for 20-plus years now. It is one of those things where you can’t really express. If you asked me in high school, if I would be coaching at this age I would had said not that soon and not at this age (24 years old). It is really a surreal feeling. I feel fortunate to have a support system and a coaching staff that I have,” he said.

Kneip said the staff he’s assembled is a combination of coaches with a plethora of high school coaching experience to go along with former collegiate football players just a few years removed from their playing days. Kneip played offensive line for the Huskies from 2012 through 2016.

The first-year head coach said the expectations for the Wolverines remain the same as when he was in high school from 2008-2011.

“Every year the goal is to go to undefeated and win a state championship. It always starts with game one. We’re focused on Central Valley (Sept. 1 showdown in Spokane). They are a tough opponent, which is what you want. You want to play the best teams in the state regardless of classification. It will be a challenge for our guys,” Kneip said.

The Wolverines not only face Central Valley but take on Garfield and Camas as well in September. The Wolverines return a bevy of experienced players to the lineup, including Joey Echigoshima (quarterback), Johnny Barthel (offensive line/defensive line), Drew Fowler (linebacker), Nick Bowar (wide receiver/linebacker), KJ Wright (running back/linebacker) and John Kruger (linebacker/offensive line).

“We have a lot of seniors that have been around this program for a long time. We also have a lot of young guys who will play and that are emerging. It has been a lot of fun to see,” Kneip said. “Having really smart players in the right spots in terms of leadership is key.”

BELLEVUE

Schedule

Sept. 1 at Central Valley, 1 p.m.

Sept. 7 NEWPORT, 7 p.m.

Sept. 14 at Garfield (Seattle Memorial Stadium) 7 p.m.

Sept. 21 at Camas, 7 p.m.

Sept. 28 at Lake Washington, 7 p.m.

Oct. 5 INTERLAKE, 7 p.m.

Oct. 12 at Liberty, 7 p.m.

Oct. 19 JUANITA, 7 p.m.

Oct. 26 at Mercer Island, 7 p.m.

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