SOUTH PUGET SOUND LEAGUE SOUTH DIVISION
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)
TOP OFFENSIVE PLAYER
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.
TOP DEFENSIVE PLAYER
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.
DID YOU KNOW?
Since a sixth classification was added in 1997, the SPSL South has seen five teams win back-to-back league titles. Bethel and Curtis each won three in a row – the Braves reigned 2001-03 and Curtis claimed championships 2008-2010. If the Vikings add another crown this fall, they’ll become the first team in the 43-year history of the SPSL to win four consecutive league titles.
GAME OF THE YEAR
Bethel at Curtis, 7 p.m. Oct. 21
Until they’re knocked off their perch, the path to the SPSL South title runs through the three-time defending champion Curtis Vikings. Plenty could be at stake in this Week 8 matchup.
Head coach: David Sundheim, third season
Top players: WR/S Willie Roach, Sr., 6-2, 185; RB/LB Nick Bod, Sr., 5-10, 185; WR/DB Andre Evans, Sr., 6-2, 175; G/DE Milo Loving-Williams, Jr., 5-11, 235; FB/DE Marley Liulama, Sr., 6-0, 290; RB/DB Shawn Prigget, Sr.; FB/LB Dee Bolden, Sr.
Outlook: Beamer enjoyed a breakthrough season in 2010, reaching the postseason for the first time in school history and came within a touchdown of advancing to the state playoffs. The Titans lost a couple key players from that squad – TNT all-area selections Nicky Fualaau and T.J. Esekielu – and return four offensive and six defensive starters. Sundheim says this team is athletic and physical, and it might have to rely on that early on to compensate for inexperience. Roach has received a scholarship offer from Air Force.
Head coach: Gavin Kralik, seventh season
Top players: QB Justin Hordyk, Sr., 6-1, 175; WR/RB/DB David Fontenette, Sr., 6-2, 220; WR Brandon Kirian, Sr., 6-2, 185; DL Joel Ragazzo, Sr., 6-4, 220; DB Lamar Williams, 5-9, 180; DB John Thompson, Jr., 5-8, 175.
Outlook: Hordyk, a first-team all-SPSL South quarterback last fall, is one of three returning offensive starters – receivers Fontenette and Kirian are the others. Bethel is breaking in five new starting offensive linemen, but Kralik says the unit works harder than any other group on the team. Bethel has improved its defense – it allowed more than 30 ppg in 2010 – and Ragazzo could emerge as one of the top defenders in the league. For the second year in a row, the Braves will open the season at Permian High in Odessa, Texas.
Head coach: Clay Angle, fifth season
Top players: QB Ty Saathoff, Sr., 6-1, 190; OLB Sam Langford, Sr., 6-0, 195; OLB Kadyn del Toro, Sr., 5-10 ,175; OL Zach Budnick, Jr., 6-3, 265; OL Chris Coffin, Jr., 6-4, 270.
Outlook: Curtis has not lost a league game since 2008, but it will have to work extremely hard to keep alive that streak. The Vikings graduated players that earned the league’s offensive back and lineman, defensive back and linemen and linebacker of the year honors. Curtis has three starters back on offense and four on defense. Angle says Saathoff has a good arm, but, like many of his teammates, must adjust to the speed of varsity games. Budnick and Coffin have already attracted the interest of college recruiters. Transfer WR/DB Anthony Davis was an all-league cornerback for Lincoln last fall.
EMERALD RIDGE JAGUARS
Co-head coaches: Brian Anderson, Torey Donovan, Darren Erath, Troy Halfaday, Adam Schakel, second season
Top players: QB Jake Sommer, Sr., 6-0, 200; OL/DL Cody Erpelding, Sr., 6-3, 290; WR/DB Kris Durr, Sr., 6-3, 177; WR/DB Blake Symmons, Sr., 6-1, 160; WR/SS Andre Frank, Sr., 6-2, 182; QB/LB Kort Skoda, Jr., 5-10, 198; OL/DL Joe Stevens, Sr., 6-2, 270; K Luke Logan, Sr., 6-0, 160.
Outlook: After going winless in 2009, the Jaguars made strides last fall, toppling rival Puyallup for the first time in school history. Maybe the five-head-coach thing isn’t so crazy, after all? Emerald Ridge returns seven starters on offense and four on defense. With a year of experience behind them, Sommer and the rest of the offense should find more ways to score this fall. The Jaguars have seen player turnout increase and could be on the verge of becoming a playoff contender.
FEDERAL WAY EAGLES
Head coach: John Meagher, 14th season
Top players: LB/OL Jordan Pulu, Sr., 6-2, 235; RB/OLB D.J. May, Sr., 5-11, 190; OL/NG Uso Olive, Sr., 6-0, 290; WR/DB Mike Tate, Jr., 6-1, 180; WR/DB Marcel Morris, Jr., 5-10, 170; OL/DL Faauiga Taala, Sr., 5-10, 245; OL/LB Albert Havili, Jr., 6-2, 235; FB/LB Rod Jones, Jr., 6-2, 230; WR/DB J.J. McNeal, Jr., 5-8, 165; RB/OLB Jaylen Price, Sr., 5-11, 220; OL/LB Anthony Whitten, Sr., 6-1, 205.
Outlook: Few teams will be able to match the Eagles’ speed and athleticism. Led by May the offense has eight starters back, but will miss three-year starting quarterback Nick Tanielu, who graduated. Federal Way’s defensive front six is anchored by Portland St.-bound Olive and WSU-commit Pulu. If the Eagles can clean up sloppy play – they committed 22 turnovers and were the fifth-most penalized team in the SPSL last fall – a league title is within their grasp.
Head coach: Eric Kurle, sixth season
Top players: QB Drew Austin, Sr., 6-2,188; WR/CB Kahlil Dawson, 5-9, 165; OL Dallas Kramer, 6-1, 265; OL Shayden Flint, 6-0, 265; FB Mike Ramos, 6-0, 220; LB Zack Dwyer, 5-10, 200.
Outlook: G-K must replace workhorse running back Matt Dawley, who led the SPSL South in rushing. The Eagles could do that by taking to the air – Kramer and Flint will anchor the offensive line, providing time for Austin to find the speedy Dawson. Teague James and Kyle Madsen are expected to share duties at tailback. With just two returning starters on defense, the Eagles must rebuild that unit. Kurle says the defense will be loaded with youth and speed.
Head coach: Gary Jeffers, second season
Top players: OL/DL Joshua Garnett, Sr., 6-5, 295; RB/LB Jeremy Misailegalu, Sr., 5-11, 205; WR/LB Matt Becker, 5-11, 175; RB/LB Elliott Telling, Sr., 5-9, 180; Jamie Stidhams, Sr., 5-8, 170; WR/DE Nic Wisor, Sr., 6-5, 210.
Outlook: The Vikings opened last fall on fire, piling up 104 points and winning their first two games before enduring a seven-game losing streak. Puyallup has perhaps the best player in the state in Garnett. The two-way all-league first-team selection will provide protection and room to run on offense, and terrorize on defense. Misailegalu led the SPSL in tackles with 104 in 2010. Wisor has the length and strength to be an effective pass-rusher. Trevor Lyon will take over quarterback duties.
Head coach: Gene Bowen, seventh season
Top players: WR/DB Max McIntosh, Sr., 6-1, 175; TE/LB Kacee Doty, Sr., 6-2, 200; WR Keylin Huddleston, Sr., 6-5, 200; DB Stefan Van Horn, Jr., 6-1, 180; DB Elijah Celestine, Sr., 5-9, 185.
Outlook: Under Bowen, the Rams have evolved into one of the most consistently successful programs in the SPSL South, reaching the state playoffs in each of the past three seasons. Though Rogers is light on experience – just three offensive and four defensive starters are back – it’s foolish to expect it to fall off the radar. The Rams will have a new starting quarterback for the fourth season in a row, but he’ll have a trio of capable to receivers to target in McIntosh, Huddleston and Doty.
SPANAWAY LAKE SENTINELS
Head coach: John Robak, 17th season
Top players: OL/DL Tyler Evans, Jr., 6-2, 265; OL Alex Young-Salanoa, Jr., 5-11, 250; RB/DB Marcus Thomas, Sr., 5-8. 180; RB/LB R.J. Lewis, Sr., 5-10, 200; TE/DL Kyle Pickering, Jr., 6-1, 200; RB/LB Ryan Dix, Jr., 5-10, 200; RB/LB Dustin Bracy, Jr., 5-8. 170; OL/DL Ryan Towe, Jr., 6-2, 270; OL/DL Aaron Monzon, Jr., 6-3, 240; QB/FS Joe Martin, Soph., 6-0, 180; OL/DL J.J. Saili, Soph., 6-1, 270.
Outlook: Despite returning just five starters – two on offense and three on defense – the Sentinels are optimistic. Robak said he expects his team’s speed and offensive line play to be strengths, while a lack of experience is something Spanaway Lake must overcome. Underclassmen will be asked to contribute this season, ensuring the Sentinels will return a core of experienced players next fall.