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)
TOP OFFENSIVE PLAYER
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.
TOP DEFENSIVE PLAYER
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.
DID YOU KNOW?
If Life Christian Academy offensive coordinator Doug Burton is in need of fatherly advice, he won’t have to go far to get it. Burton’s dad, Ed, joined the Eagles’ coaching staff this season to be its defensive coordinator. Ed previously coached at Oregon City High School and guided the Pioneers to Oregon’s Class 4A title game in 1996.
GAME OF THE YEAR
Cascade Christian at Orting, 7 p.m. Oct. 28
Before Cascade Christian emerged as a league power – the Cougars have claimed the past four conference championships – Orting was the Nisqually League’s dominant program.
CASCADE CHRISTIAN COUGARS
Head coach: Randy Davis, seventh season
Top players: WR/DB Jake Archer, Sr., 6-2, 185; WR/LB Joshua Shreffler, Sr., 6-3, 190; OL.DL Steven Bostwick, Sr., 5-9, 240; RB/LB Kyle Crawford, Sr., 6-0, 185; RB/LB Alex Milton, Sr., 5-10, 175; OL/LB Adam Hanes, Jr., 6-0, 205.
Outlook: Can Cascade Christian become the first Class 1A team to reach the state finals in four consecutive seasons? The Cougars aren’t loaded with experienced veterans, like last year, but they’ve found themselves in this position before. Cascade Christian returns a solid core of four offensive and three defensive starters, including Shreffler, the league’s reigning Defensive MVP, and Archer, an all-state receiver. Davis says his team’s strength is in its receiving and secondary, while it must work on reconstructing its offensive and defensive lines.
CHARLES WRIGHT ACADEMY TARRIERS
Head coach: Mike Finch, fourth season
Top players: DE/TE Beau Iverson, Jr., 6-8, 225; LB/OT Nick Mungia, Sr., 5-11, 195; FS/R Colin Reynolds, Jr., 5-11, 190; RB/LB Alex Nielsen, Sr., 6-0, 185; WR/CB Chris Lee, Sr., 5-10, 165; C/DT Parker Rush, Sr., 6-1, 220.
Outlook: The Tarriers have plenty to be excited about. They’re loaded with depth – 21 lettermen return, including eight starters on defense and seven on offense – and talent. Mungia, who led the team with 62 tackles in 2010, and Iverson, who totaled 4.5 sacks and 7 tackles-for-loss last fall and could develop into one of the league’s premier pass rushers, are cornerstones of the defense. Reynolds, a second-team all-league selection at kick returner, gives Charles Wright a boost on special teams.
Head coach: Shawn Meacham, third season
Top players: OL/DL Joe Modispacher, Sr., 6-0, 240; OL/DL Seth Ham, Jr., 6-1, 230; OL/DL Daryl Settlemire, Soph., 6-1, 220; RB/LB Trevor Hare, Jr., 6-1, 180; RB/DB Mel Thornton, Jr., 6-0, 175; WR/LB Kyle Madavag, Sr., 6-3, 190; WR/DB Victor Cienega, Sr., 5-10, 170; QB/DB Alex Morris, Soph., 5-10, 160.
Outlook: Lack of depth – the Cowboys have just 24 players on varsity – will be the biggest obstacle for Chimacum to overcome. Meacham expects the offensive line, anchored by returning starters Modispacher, Ham and Settlemire, to be solid, which should help the new quarterback, running backs and receivers adjust.
LIFE CHRISTIAN ACADEMY EAGLES
Head coach: Ross Hjelseth, first season
Top players: RB/LB Dylan Huber, Sr., 5-9, 185; WR/DB Karson Kuehner, Jr., 6-3, 185; QB/P Kingston Kuehner, Sr., 6-1, 190; OL.LB Jonathan Lindberg, Sr., 5-10, 190; OL/DL Daniel Thatcher, Sr., 5-10, 220; OL/DL Kyle Pierotti, Sr., 6-2, 180; OL/LB Chase Knoblauch, Jr., 5-8, 195.
Outlook: Hjelseth, the program’s first coach, returns for a second stint and he inherits an experienced team. LCA welcomes back seven starters on defense and eight on offense. Huber and Karson Kuehner were each first-team all-league picks last fall and give the Eagles dynamite rushing and receiving threats.
Head coach: Marty Parkhurst, 18th season
Top players: OL/DL Jake Stubben, Sr., 6-3, 265; OL/DL Josh Teuteu, Sr., 5-10, 210; OL/DL Isaac Lewis, Sr., 6-2, 195; RB/DB Jaysen Yoro, Soph., 5-10, 165; OL/DL Randy Sackmann, Jr., 6-1, 220; RB/LB Connor Rose, Soph., 5-10, 160; LB Dylan Thomas, Jr., 5-9, 160.
Outlook: Orting is strong in three key areas: along the line of scrimmage, in the backfield and on the sideline. The Cardinals have depth and size in the offensive and defensive line, led by Teuteu, a second-team all-league defensive lineman. Orting has back its entire stable of running backs, including Yoro, who earned second-team honors as a freshman. Finally, Parkhurst leads an experienced coaching staff that can get the most out of its eight offensive and eight defensive returning starters.
Head coach: Clay Eastly, fifth season
Top players: C/LB Robert Easton, Jr., 5-8. 220; OL/DL Jacob Ludberg, Sr., 6-0, 265; RB/LB Nick Betz, Jr., 5-8, 175; FS Garrett Star, Soph., 6-3, 165; C Nick Amundsen, Soph., 5-9, 150; OL/DE Elliot Ellingsen, Sr., 6-1, 180; RB/LB Ezra Ende, Fr., 5-10, 190.
Outlook: Like other teams, the Pirates begin the season with an inexperienced team, returning just two starters on offense and one on defense. Vashon boasts athletic players at the skilled positions, but the team will experience growing pains. Vashon will miss running back Adrian Arceo, who was voted the league’s Offensive MVP last fall. Arceo is one of four Pirates from last year’s team that is playing football in college. Defensive end Hamzah Griffin made the team at WSU as a walk-on.
Cedar Park Christian and Port Townsend did not respond to requests for information.