Editor’s note: This is the second of eight installments of 2012 high school football previews. Today we look at the Narrows 3A League:
** Feature link on Timberline’s Crump brothers.
ON THE THRONE: Two player of year candidates (Crump, Wetzel) give Timberline edge in tight race.
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Once an offensive tackle, Shelton’s David Ajamu is a budding star at tight end, and has committed to Oregon State.
CHANGE IS GOOD: Lincoln coach Jon Kitna retired after 15 seasons as an NFL quarterback to take charge of his alma mater.
BY THE NUMBERS: Wilson’s Don Clegg (137 wins) is No. 5, and North Thurston’s Rocky Patchin (128) is No. 7 in active all-time area coaching victories.
PROJECTED FINISH: Timberline (4-6), Lincoln (4-6), North Thurston (9-2), Wilson (2-8), Shelton (2-8), Mount Tahoma (5-5), Foss (1-9)
MARK THE DATE: Sept. 27, Lincoln at Timberline, South Sound Stadium, 7 p.m.
** Team capsules (listed in alphabetical order)
Coach: Patrick Johnson, first year
2011 record: 1-8, 6th in league.
Offense: Coordinator (set) – Matt Johnson (flexbone). Returning starters – 5. Top players – QB Nick Burton, 6-0, 180, Jr.; OL Dowell Freeland, 6-1, 300, Sr.; RB Bacaari Kiner, 5-6, 165, Jr.; WR Marcellus Potts, 5-11, 160, Jr.
Defense: Coordinator (set) – Patrick Johnson (4-3/3-4 multiple). Returning starters – 4. Top players – DL Ryan Cole, 6-2, 220, Sr.; DB Alonzo Jones, 5-10, 185, Jr.; DB Jeff Lord, 5-10, 145, Sr.; DB Malik Smith, 5-9, 175, Jr.
Outlook: Johnson has a blueprint of success – he is a former Lakes High player (2000 graduate) and assistant. Now he is set to lay down his plan. Reclamation projects are nothing new for him, either. He was a defensive coach at one-win Hephzibah High (Ga.) in 2007. Two years later, it developed into a winning program.
Coach: Jon Kitna, first year
2011 record: 4-6, 3rd in league; lost in 3A districts.
Offense: Coordinator (set) – Jon Kitna (multiple). Returning starters – 4. Top players – OL Quinn Bell, 6-6, 210, Jr.; OL Eric Cooper, 5-10, 250, Sr.; WR Joshua Eckwood, 6-2, 170, Sr.; RB Jonathan Hardnett, 5-7, 205, Sr.; RB/WR Rayshawn Miller, 5-8, 170, Jr.
Defense: Coordinator (set) – Casey Kjos (multiple). Returning starters – 3. Top players – DL Mark Alapati, 6-5, 290, Sr.; Jamarae Finnie, 6-4, 265, Sr.; DB Dehonta Hayes, 6-0, 165, So.; Tayvon Murray, 5-7, 155, Jr.; Peau Seigafo, 6-4, 285, Sr.
Outlook: A buzz has been created – and Kitna has the high turnout numbers to prove this is a program quickly on the rise. The ex-NFL quarterback knows he has explosive athletes, and will get them in space. Yet, he says the offense will be “fairly basic” – more like the Central Washington attack he ran, and not the sophisticated ones from the NFL.
MOUNT TAHOMA THUNDERBIRDS
Coach: Kevin Hanis, sixth year
2011 record: 5-5, 5th in Narrows 4A.
Offense: Coordinator (set) – Kevin Hanis (spread I-formation). Returning starters – 5. Top players – WR Keyshawn Craig, 6-0, 175, So.; TE Joey Gillies, 6-3, 215, Sr.; OL Junior Viiga, 6-0, 275, Sr.; OL Schrien Vong, 5-9, 230, Sr.; WR Jakob Wilson, 5-7, 155, Sr.
Defense: Coordinator (set) – Clarence Wright (5-2). Returning starters – 5. Top players – DL Joey Gillies, 6-3, 215, Sr.; LB Zach Holt, 5-10, 220, Sr.; DB Robbie Tabios, 5-6, 140, Sr.; DL Sampson Williams, 6-3, 215, Sr.; DB Jakob Wilson, 5-7, 155, Sr.
Outlook: After his team rushed for nearly 2,600 yards, is Hanis ready to shed his pass-happy label? With a very young team – and with five inexperienced quarterbacks in camp – this might be another season of relying on the run. Tabios should head the tailback committee, but the Thunderbirds have a promising group of ninth graders waiting.
NORTH THURSTON RAMS
Coach: Rocky Patchin, 21st year
2011 record: 9-2, 2nd in EvCo; lost in 2A first round.
Offense: Coordinator (set) – Pete Smith (offset I). Returning starters – 6. Top players – RB Brandon Belisario, 5-11, 195, Sr.; TE Josh Cahill, 6-3, 205, Jr.; OL Ryan Glendenning, 5-11, 210, Sr.; RB Ande Grantham, 6-1, 220, Sr.; RB Mo Manning, 6-1, 185, Sr.
Defense: Coordinator (set) – Pat Dahl (4-4). Returning starters – 6. Top players – DL Ryan Glendenning, 5-11, 210, Sr.; DB Tru Hicks, 6-1, 185, Sr.; LB Hayden Maliska, 5-11, 195, Jr.; DL Alex Rice, 6-6, 315, Jr..
Outlook: What a 2011 season for the Rams, who won nine games (most since 2000) and scored nearly 42.0 points per outing. A big part of that attack – quarterback Ben Broeker, the Evergreen Conference MVP – is gone. But Belisario, Manning, Grantham and Maliska give Patchin his deepest group of tailbacks in two decades.
Coach: Matt Hinkle, 19th year
2011 record: 2-8, 7th in Narrows 4A.
Offense: Coordinator (set) – Cary Nagel (multiple). Returning starters – 8. Top players – TE David Ajamu, 6-5, 235, Sr.; RB Ralph Kinne, 5-10, 205, Sr.; OL Jake Lindley, 6-4, 235, Sr.; WR Michael Sobotka, 5-11, 175, Jr.; QB Jared Welander, 6-4, 185, Sr.; OL Kaleb Wright, 6-4, 285, Sr.
Defense: Coordinator (set) – Matt Hinkle (4-3). Returning starters – 6. Top players – DL David Ajamu, 6-5, 235, Sr.; DL DeShon Bell, 5-11, 205, Sr.; DB Jake Frakes, 6-1, 175, Sr.; LB Thomas Gettle, 6-2, 200, Sr.; LB Brian Nault, 6-1, 200, So.
Outlook: Something about last year never clicked, and it wasn’t difficult for Hinkle to identify: The Highclimbers and the spread offense do not mesh. So he and Nagel, a former Shelton player, are going back to the program’s roots as a power-running team. That should mean plenty of carries for Kinne, an all-purpose yardage giant.
Coach: Nick Mullen, sixth year
2011 record: 4-6, 2nd in league; lost in 3A districts.
Offense: Coordinators (set) – Jeb Dorn, Anthony Hicks (pistol). Returning starters – 5. Top players – WR Justace Buhl, 6-0, 190, Sr.; RB Spencer Crump, 5-10, 200, Sr.; OL Dayne Haddon, 6-3, 235, Sr.; WR Levi Lambert-Wilson, 6-3, 185, Sr.; OL Ethan Metzger, 6-0, 225, Sr.
Defense: Coordinator (set) – Nick Mullen (multiple). Returning starters – 6. Top players – DB Mitch Cone, 5-7, 180, Sr.; DL Dayne Haddon, 6-3, 235, Sr.; DL Cole Stevens, 6-2, 265, Jr.; LB Brandon Wetzel, 6-0, 205, Sr.; DB Jeff Winstead, 5-6, 185, Sr.
Outlook: If running the ball and stout defense is what you like, this is the place to look for it. Crump is the league’s reigning offensive MVP – and should not only have backfield help from Cone and Asan Neil, but from Hicks, a former All-American, as the run-game coordinator. And Wetzel stops everything at middle linebacker.
Coach: Don Clegg, 25th year
2011 record: 2-6, 5th in league.
Offense: Coordinators (set) – Don Clegg, Brian Burdick (multiple). Returning starters – 9. Top players – QB Moses Lewis, 6-0, 190, Sr.; OL Matt Newman, 6-1, 230, Sr.; RB Devon Phillips, 6-1, 190, Sr.; WR James Sivonen, 6-0, 190, Sr.; OL Peyton Smith, 6-2, 220, Sr.
Defense: Coordinators (set) – John Harkness, Cameron Rogers (multiple). Returning starters – 7. Top players – LB Jake Ferris, 5-11, 210, Sr.; DL Brandon Fogg, 6-0, 215, Sr.; DB Moses Lewis, 6-0, 190, Sr.; LB/DL Connor Patterson, 6-1, 200, Sr.; LB James Sivonen, 6-0, 190, Sr.; DB Isaiah Simpson, 6-0, 170, Jr.
Outlook: It has been a bad run for the city’s top program of the 1990s. The Rams lost eight starters to injury by the middle of last season, and subsequently fell apart. But the Lewis-Phillips backfield tandem is dangerous, and really could be impact big-play threats in the spread. And many of those injured players return, giving Wilson reason for hope.