Players to Watch
RB Bishop Sankey, Sr. Gonzaga Prep
Bishop is the best running back in the state. He followed a great sophomore campaign with a better junior year. His success now needs to translate to team success as Sankey will be breaking in a new OL this season.
DE Charlie Hopkins, Sr. Gonzaga Prep
Hopkins is a big player that should cause problems on both sides of the ball. Hopkins is really at home on defense where he should cause big issues for opposing tackles.
DB Dakota DuBois, Sr. Lewis & Clark
Dakota is the only returning all-league first team performer for LC. They will need him to make some big plays as they try and improve from their 4-4 record last season.
OL Brandson Schmidt, Sr. Central Valley
Schmidt made 2nd team all-conference as sophomore and 1st-team all-conference this past season. CV should be a factor if they can survive until their QB gets back.
WR Jordan Tonani Sr. Ferris
Second team all-league selection will help break in new QB for Ferris.
OL Dillon Beschel, Sr. Ferris
Second team all-league performer will be the anchor for the Ferris OL.
LB Nick Lawrence, Sr. Central Valley
Nick is a playmaking LB prospect that will be the leader of a CV defense that graduated two first team all-league performers.
QB Andy Wetzel, Jr. Mead
Wetzel started at QB last season for Mead and should take another big step forward as he matures. Mead should be in the hunt all season and much of the pressure will fall on his shoulders.
FB Kellen Clute, Sr. Mt Spokane
The recent Oregon State recruit is one of the biggest and best athletes in the conference. Mt. Spokane lost a lot of their talent to graduation and will look to Clute and others to pick up the slack.
9/2, CV @ Mt. Spokane
9/9, CV @ Mead
9/24, Mead @ Mt. Spokane
10/8, GPrep @ CV
10/21, GPrep @ Mead
10/29, GPrep @ Ferris
GSL Champ: Mead
Top 4A Team: Mead
Top 3A Team: Mt. Spokane
I want to start off by sharing my hatred for the GSL, never has a conference made a prognosticator look so foolish. I started the year picking Ferris; they faltered and appeared to be destined to miss the playoffs. Then as soon as I turned on them, they make a run to the state title game. At this point I feel like picking a winner by closing my eyes and throwing a dart at the list of teams. I'll start on the 3A side, where I think Mt. Spokane will repeat. Yes, they lost just about as much talent to graduation as anyone, but the other three 3A schools all finished at 1-7 last season. I think Mt. Spokane takes a dip in talent this season, but still has enough to take the 3A title.
Turning to 4A, Mead brings back much of the talent that lead them to the top of the league. Running back Smith and QB Wetzel will lead the charge for a repeat. Gonzaga Prep might have the two best players in the conference in Hopkins and Sankey but they graduated their entire OL. They do return their QB and if they can find more consistency should challenge Mead for the title. Central Valley was the last team that I saw in the hunt, but a burst appendix has QB Brandon Deyarmin on the shelf for as many as 4 weeks. As you see in the schedule above, those could be some big games. Lastly, Ferris has been a football power for the last few years, but will need to replace departed Connor Halliday if they want to make it back to the playoffs.
I see a couple of 4A teams finishing atop the overall standings with Mead leading the pack. Mt. Spokane should win the 3A title but I see them somewhere around 3rd or 4th overall in conference this year.
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.