The Prep Blog

Covering high school sports in Tacoma, Pierce County and the South Sound

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Archives: Aug. 2011


UPDATE: No strike, sports go on as scheduled

UPDATE: Tacoma teachers did not approve a strike. School began today and all athletic events will continue on as scheduled.


If Tacoma School District teachers vote this evening to strike, athletic events, including football games, could be cancelled for the duration of the strike.

“All sports events will be cancelled,” said Lincoln football coach Mike Merrill, who teaches science and physical education. “That’s what we’ve been told.”

Tacoma’s five high schools are scheduled to play season-opening football games this week. Most other sports begin next week, though Stadium’s volleyball team is schedule to compete in the Emerald City Volleyball Invitational at Mercer Island on Friday.

Kevin Hanis, president of Tacoma’s coaches association and football coach at Mount Tahoma, cautioned that no decision will be made until after the district’s teachers meet this evening at Mount Tahoma to determine their options.

On Friday night, Lincoln is scheduled to play at Mount Tahoma and Wilson is at Stadium. Foss is supposed to host Kent-Meridian on Saturday at Mount Tahoma. All three games are non-league contests and will not affect a team’s chances to qualify for the postseason. Mount Tahoma and Stadium begin league play in Week 3, while Foss, Lincoln and Wilson start in Week 5.
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Football: Arkansas player practices with snake in his helmet

When Gravette (Arkansas) High School senior Darrick Strzelecki took his helmet off during a recent football practice, he found a snake in his helmet.

Here’s an excerpt from the story:

During a break about 15 minutes into practice, Strzelecki took off his helmet and initially believed his teammates were teasing him.

“It looked like a rubber snake, and I thought somebody had pulled a practical joke on me,” he said. “When I grabbed it by the tail, that’s when it jerked, and I dropped the helmet.”


Football: Nisqually League preview capsules

Crystal Ball
1. Cascade Christian (13-0)
2. Orting (5-5)
3. Life Christian (4-6)
4. Charles Wright 95-4)
5. Vashon (4-6)
6. Chimacum (5-5)
7. Cedar Park Christian (6-4)
8. Port Townsend (0-9)
2010 records

When Cascade Christian needs to convert a first down on third-and-long, there’s a good chance the Cougars will look for senior Jake Archer. The all-state receiver caught 49 passes for 853 yards and 10 touchdowns, averaging 17.4 yards per catch last fall. Archer comes up big in the biggest games, too. In the past two Class 1A state title games, he has totaled 10 catches for 111 yards.

Cascade Christian linebacker Joshua Shreffler, the reigning Nisqually League Defensive MVP, is the kind of player that forces offensive coordinators to make adjustments. He amassed 117 tackles and intercepted five passes last fall, helping the Cougars win the Class 1A state championship.

Ross Hjelseth, who was the football coach at Life Christian Academy when it opened in 1994, is back as the Eagles’ head coach. Hjelseth coached the team until 2007 when he resigned to watch his son Tyler play ball at Idaho State. Hjelseth previously was the head coach at the University of Puget Sound and offensive coordinator at North Dakota State.
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Football: SPSL South preview capsules


Crystal Ball
1. Bethel (6-4)
2. Federal Way (4-6)
3. Curtis (12-1)
4. Rogers (9-2)
5. Graham-Kapowsin (6-5)
6. Puyallup (3-7)
7. Emerald Ridge (2-8)
8. Beamer (4-6)
9. Spanaway Lake (3-7)

In his first season playing varsity football, Federal Way’s D.J. May burst upon the SPSL South. May rushed for 1,117 yards and 10 touchdowns and caught 14 passes for 193 yards and two touchdowns, earning first-team all-league honors at running back. May was also effective as a kick-returner, averaging 24.7 yards per return and ran one back for an 88-yard touchdown.

Yes, Joshua Garnett is an elite offensive lineman – one of the best in the country, in fact – but he can impact a high school game in many more ways on defense. Puyallup’s first-team all-league defensive lineman will be used in a variety of ways, wreaking havoc in the interior, coming off the edge and, occasionally, playing linebacker.

At least for the start of the season, Federal Way will use two quarterbacks. D’Londo Tucker, a 6-foot, 175-pound junior, brings speed and elusiveness. Evan Elliott, a 5-foot-10, 175-pound junior, is a more accurate passer, though coach John Meagher says he’s a “fearless” runner.
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Football: SPSL North preview capsules


Crystal Ball
1. Kentlake (7-3)
2. Auburn (9-3)
3. Kentwood (10-1)
4. Kentridge (4-6)
5. Tahoma (3-7)
6. Jefferson (3-7)
7. Kent-Meridian (4-6)
8. Auburn Riverside (5-5)
9. Mount Rainier (0-10)
*2010 records

Kentlake will find ways to utilize Austin Pernell’s athleticism. A starting receiver – he caught 27 passes for 597 yards and 7 TDs, averaging 22.1 yards per reception in 2010 – the 5-foot-11, 187-pound senior is also a threat to break long punt and kickoff returns and take an end-around the distance.

Some teams choose to keep their starting quarterback from playing defense. Not Kentlake. The Falcons’ signal caller, Caleb Saulo, is a monster at linebacker. A first-team all-SPSL North selection last fall, Saulo has the frame of a prototypical linebacker, standing 6-foot-2, 218 pounds. He’s got offers from Army and Portland St. and is getting interest from some Pac-12 Conference programs.

Kentridge welcomed a pair of transfers from Arizona in the offseason. Josh Hamilton, a 6-foot, 195-pound senior, will start at quarterback and Alex McGuire, a 6-foot-2, 195-pound senior, will be the Chargers’ inside linebacker and play tailback and fullback. Hamilton and McGuire are step-brothers.
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Sumner School District’s coaches of the year

A press release from the Sumner School District:

Sumner School District announces 2010-11 Co-Coaches of the Year

Each year the Sumner School District Athletic Department selects a Sumner School District “Coach of the Year.” Nominations include coaches who demonstrate outstanding character building among their athletes. The selection of the award winner was announced at an annual Awards Luncheon on August 16, 2011. Tim Thomsen, Athletics/Activities Director, also presented the award winner at the August 17, 2011 meeting of the Sumner School District Board of Directors.

Nominees for the 2010-2011 Sumner School District “Coach of the Year”:
Sara Jackson, Sumner Middle, Fastpitch, Girls Basketball
JD Rushton, Mountain View Middle, Boys Basketball, Bonney Lake High Boys Golf
Kristin Martin, Sumner High, Cross Country, Track
Shirley Baker, Bonney Lake High, Volleyball, Track
Cleo Reed, Lakeridge Middle School, Girls Basketball, Baseball
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Football: Evergreen Conference preview capsules

Crystal Ball
1. Tumwater (12-1)
2. North Thurston (5-4)
3. W.F. West (9-2)
4. Centralia (7-3)
5. River Ridge (5-4)
6. Black Hills (3-7)
7. Aberdeen (1-8)
*2010 season records

Last year’s run to the Class 2A state title was never supposed to be a one-year mission for Tumwater, which returns 10 all-Evergreen Conference players. The Thunderbirds are surely poised for another run – and boast a nice blend of size up front, and experience throughout its lineup. Contenders W.F. West, North Thurston and possibly Centralia look to take down Tumwater in similar fashion – passing the ball.

River Ridge junior Brad Wallace can be a one-man wrecking crew every time he touches the ball. He’s been an all-league receiver and running back in his two years with the Hawks and had more than 2,000 all-purpose yards in 2010. He’s on the radar of Oregon, UW, WSU and others.

Expect big things from Tumwater defensive lineman Jaime Bryant, who is one of the best around, and he’s only a junior. Opposing teams don’t run on the same side Bryant is lined up on too often. The 6-foot-5, 270-pounder likely will be the next NCAA Division I player from his family – his older brother, Hank, signed with Idaho in 2007.
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