Everett Herald Football Preview

Cascade Conference preview: Coaches poll, storylines to watch

CAMERON VAN TILSun Aug 27th, 2017 7:29amSPORTS

Coaches poll

The predicted order of finish as voted on by the league’s coaches. Included are total points, with first-place votes in parentheses.

1. Archbishop Murphy (4) — 20

2. King’s (1) — 17

3. CPC-Bothell — 14

4. Cedarcrest — 10

5. Granite Falls — 9

6. Sultan — 5

NOTES: Coaches weren’t allowed to vote for their own teams. One coach chose not to participate in the voting.

FAVORITE

Archbishop Murphy. This is a no-brainer. The Wildcats cruised to the Class 2A state title last year, outscoring opponents by a combined 463-44 margin while winning all nine games in their forfeit-shortened season by at least 34 points apiece. Archbishop Murphy lost numerous key players from last year’s dominant squad, but plenty of talent is returning — including big-time college prospect Kyler Gordon, standout linebackers Ben Hines and Emmanuel Osuoha, and 6-foot-2, 300-pound center Martin Napeahi Jr. The Wildcats enter the season as favorites to win a second consecutive state crown.

CONTENDER

King’s. If any team can contend with Archbishop Murphy for the league title, it would be the Knights. King’s, the only Cascade Conference team to play Murphy last season, beat the league’s other five teams by an average of 34.8 points per game. The Knights lost nine all-conference players from last year, including speedy running back Caleb Perry, a state-champion sprinter in track who is now a member of the Washington State football team. But King’s is a constant force under veteran coach Jim Shapiro, and his team returns standout two-way lineman Taylor Schoenfeld, who is garnering Division-I college interest.

STORYLINES TO WATCH

Can Wildcats defend their state crown?

All eyes will be on Archbishop Murphy this fall after last year’s dominant run to the state title and a slew of opponent forfeits that made national headlines. Non-conference matchups against Garfield and Bellevue should provide an early gauge of this season’s Wildcats before they enter the heart of their league schedule, where they figure to be heavy favorites against every team.

New faces at the helm

Three of the league’s seven teams will have new head coaches roaming the sidelines this fall. The most notable is Butch Goncharoff, who takes over at Cedar Park Christian-Bothell after guiding Class 3A powerhouse Bellevue to 11 state titles in 16 years as the Wolverines’ head coach. Goncharoff was removed from his job last year following an investigation that found the Bellevue program had committed wide-ranging violations of state rules. Another newcomer is Jim Wright, who takes over at Sultan after previous head-coaching positions at Seattle Lutheran and Franklin. Longtime coach Mark Hodson returns to South Whidbey after a three-year hiatus, looking to turn around a program that will play an independent schedule this fall while working to build up participation numbers.

Can Tigers take another step forward?

Prior to last year, Granite Falls had mustered just two league wins combined in the previous two seasons and four league wins combined in the previous five seasons. The Tigers showed marked improvement last fall, winning three conference games and reaching the postseason in coach Tim Dennis’ first season at the helm. Granite Falls will look to build on that success this year with the return of starting quarterback Camden Landrum and running back Brayden Counsellor.

ARCHBISHOP MURPHY WILDCATS

Last season: 14-0, 6-0 in conference play (Class 2A state champions)

Coach: Jerry Jensen (fifth season)

Key players: Kyler Gordon, sr., WR/DB; Dillon Singh Halpin, jr., WR/DB; Ben Hines, sr., RB/LB; Matt Keck, sr., OL/DL; John Land-Quinn, jr., OL/DL; Kobe Moorhead, sr., OL/DL; Martin Napeahi Jr., sr., OL/DL; Emmanuel Osuoha, sr., RB/LB; Ray Pimentel, sr., RB/DB; Luke Riojas, jr., LB; Ryan Schroeder, sr., TE/LB; Jeric Williams, sr., WR/DB

Outlook: Archbishop Murphy lost numerous starters on both sides of the ball from last year’s dominant state-championship squad, which won all nine games by at least 34 points during a season that was shortened by forfeits because of player-safety concerns from opposing teams. But with plenty of returning talent — including big-time college prospect Kyler Gordon, standout linebackers Ben Hines and Emmanuel Osuoha, and 6-foot-2, 300-pound center Martin Napeahi Jr. — the Wildcats are favorites to win another state crown.

2017 Schedule

CEDAR PARK CHRISTIAN EAGLES

Last season: 4-6, 2-4 in conference play

Coach: Butch Goncharoff (first season)

Key players: Killian Boyle, sr., OL/DL; Bradley Cumley, sr., OL/DL/K; Jason He, sr., RB/LB; Payton Nelson, sr., TE/LB; Tyler Shimmin, sr., OL/LB;

Outlook: CPC-Bothell begins a new era under coach Butch Goncharoff, who guided Class 3A powerhouse Bellevue to 11 state titles in 16 years as the Wolverines’ coach. Goncharoff was removed from his job last year following an investigation that found the Bellevue program had committed wide-ranging violations of state rules. Goncharoff brings a wealth of experience to the Eagles, who are looking to be more competitive this fall after losing three of their five league games last year by 27 points or more.

2017 Schedule

CEDARCREST RED WOLVES

Last season: 4-6, 2-4 in conference play

Coach: Billy Ojeda (third season)

Key players: Sam Bennett, jr., OL/DL; Aaron Davenport, sr., QB; Jake Fowler, sr., WR/DB; Tyler Gray, jr., WR/DB; Caleb Lay, jr., OL/DL; Frederick Reid, jr., RB/LB; Jaren Stevenson, sr., RB/LB

Outlook: Cedarcrest lost several all-conference players from last year but returns versatile senior Jaren Stevenson, who earned all-league honors on both the offensive and defensive line last season after filling in due to a rash of injuries. Stevenson has moved back to his natural positions this fall at running back and linebacker.

2017 Schedule

GRANITE FALLS TIGERS

Last season: 4-6, 3-3 in conference play (lost in district crossover round)

Coach: Tim Dennis (second season)

Key players: Andrew Buchholz, sr., RB/LB; Hunter Chapman, sr., OL/DL; Brayden Counsellor, jr., RB/DB; Ryan Dennis, sr., WR/LB; Seth Harris, jr., RB/LB; Camden Landrum, sr., QB/DB; Liam Schenfeld, jr., OL/DL;

Outlook: After just two league wins combined in the previous three seasons, Granite Falls won three conference games last year and reached the postseason. The Tigers aim to continue their improvement this fall under second-year coach Tim Dennis.

2017 Schedule

KING’S KNIGHTS

Last season: 6-3, 5-1 in conference play (lost in district crossover round)

Coach: Jim Shapiro (21st season)

Key players: Brennon Blevins, sr., QB/WR/DB; Logan Perrigo, sr., RB/LB; Taylor Schoenfeld, sr., OL/DL; Atley Shapiro, sr., WR/DB

Outlook: The Knights are aiming for a return to the state playoffs after seeing their streak of seven consecutive state appearances snapped last fall. King’s lost nine-all-conference players from last year, including speedy running back Caleb Perry, who is now a member of the Washington State football team. But the Knights are a constant force under veteran coach Jim Shapiro, and they return a standout two-way lineman in Taylor Schoenfeld who is garnering NCAA Division-I college interest.

2017 Schedule

SOUTH WHIDBEY FALCONS

Last season: 1-8, 0-6 in conference play

Coach: Mark Hodson (returns for his 14th season after coaching the team from 2001-2013)

Key players: Alex Turner, jr., OL; Lucas Watson, sr., OL

Outlook: The Falcons will play an independent schedule this fall as they work to build up their participation numbers. Longtime coach Mark Hodson returns to South Whidbey after a three-year hiatus, looking to turn around a program that lost all five league games last year by 28 points or more.

2017 Schedule

SULTAN TURKS

Last season: 6-4, 3-3 in conference play (lost in district crossover round)

Coach: Jim Wright (first season)

Key players: Brayden Haefele, soph., QB/DB; Phoenix McGuire, sr., TE/LB; Alex Perrigo, sr., ATH; Tre Sargent, sr., RB/LB; Errett Turner, sr., WR/DB

Outlook: Sultan lost head coach Jim Kruckenberg and seven all-conference players from last year’s team, which compiled the program’s first winning season since 2006. Jim Wright takes over a young Turks squad after holding previous head-coaching positions at Seattle Lutheran and Franklin.

2017 Schedule