Players to Watch
WR/S Kasen Williams, Sr. Skyline
The top receiver on the west coast will be in charge of breaking in a new battery mate at QB. Kasen has the ability to take over any game he is and will plague KingCo defenses for one more season.
TE/DE Connor Cree, Sr. Skyline
The University of Washington commit is one of the very few starting linemen to return to the league this year. Connor will use his speed to terrorize QB's off the edge. In addition, his size and strength, which are often underrated, will provide a challenge to opposing tackles.
CB Mike Ford, Sr. Skyline
The knock on Mike Ford by some scouts is his size. But, as far as coverage skills and ball skills are concerned, you won't find a better cornerback in the state. Mike plays with a great level of toughness and is truly a leader on defense for the Spartans.
QB Max Browne, So. Skyline
Much of the pressure for Skyline repeating as state champions will fall on the shoulders of their young QB Brown. With the talent he still has around him Brown won't have to be awesome, but he will have to make some big throws for the Spartans.
RB Luke Proulx, Sr. Bothell
Luke is one of the best backs in the state and will be called on over and over to carry the rock for a Bothell team that has always run the ball well. With a new QB coming into the fold expect coach Bainter to lean even harder on Proulx.
LB/RB Alex Donnelly, Sr. Lake Washington
Donnelly is the only player returning to the conference that was named 1st teams all-league on both offense and defense. Lake Washington is still trying to turn the corner as a program and will look to Alex to lead that charge.
RB Taylor Wyman, Sr. Issaquah
Wyman already proved last year that he is a quality replacement for Grant Gellatly, as he spent most of the season filling in for the injured back.
WR Evan Peterson, Sr. Issaquah
Peterson is a lanky receiver that has torn up KingCo defenses for years. Last season, Peterson brought in 90 catches for over 1,500 yards and 19 touchdowns
DL Patrick Taiwo, Sr. Newport
Taiwo is a dominating presence for Newport. Returning all-league performer and top defensive player on the Newport team.
LB Nik Landdeck, Sr. Issaquah
Landdeck is a hard-nosed player that has the athletic ability to run sideline to sideline. I worked with him at camps this summer and saw him around the combine circuit. One of my favorite players in the state, I expect big things from him this year.
S Michael Conforto, Sr. Redmond
Conforto is the only returning all-league performer for a Redmond team that has struggled of late.
CB Robert Sharps, Sr. Eastlake
Eastlake is a team that always seems to bring a good game. I think that they are on the tier under Skyline and Issaquah but will push for a playoff spot. Sharps is their most talented returning player.
9/3, Skyline @ Liberty (Non-League)
9/4, Bothell vs. Mission Viejo (Cal.) Qwest Field (Non-League)
9/10, Issaquah @ Liberty (Non-League)
9/11, Skyline vs. Bellevue (Non-League)
9/17, Lake Oswego (Ore.) @ Skyline (Non-League)
9/24, Issaquah @ Skyline
10/8, Bothell @ Woodinville
10/15, Skyline @ Jackson (Non-League)
Crown Division: Bothell
Crest Division: Skyline
KingCo Champ: Skyline
There are new QB's at almost all of the schools that have been at the top of the standings over the last few years. Skyline, Bothell, Issaquah, and Inglemoor will all have a new QB under center. This means we could see a team knock Skyline or Bothell off of their perch… but I don't see that happening. As I stated in last year's column, I wish I could be more creative with these picks, but the talent is too overwhelming in my opinion. Skyline will have some holes to fill in on the line, but otherwise Browne has a load of talented players around him, ready to ease his transition into the starting role. I am less confident that Bothell will be as dominant again, but I see the Crown division as the weaker of the two. Woodinville is really the only team I see challenging them and I even feel like that is a stretch. On the Crest side, I do think Issaquah will be a force to deal with. Their rivalry game with Skyline should carry big weight in the standings. With the out of conference schedules these powerhouses have set up, I don't see anyone going undefeated. Watch out when it comes playoff time though… I only see these teams getting better as the year goes on and their QB's settle into the position.
As always, there are many more that could have made the list. Visit our forums to let me know who else you think should have made the list.