I got it wrong last year, and I don’t plan a repeat this fall.
I didn’t pick Ferris to win the Greater Spokane League football championship. Big mistake. All the Saxons did was run the table, finishing 14-0 and capturing the State 4A championship.
So I’ll tell you upfront that my pick to capture the 2011 GSL title will be Ferris – even though 2010 quarterback Ben Goodwin won’t throw a pass because of the elbow injury he sustained this summer.
I looked back on my 2010 picks and I’m embarrassed to confess that the highest prediction I got correct was picking University to finish fifth. I did have the Titans going to the State 3A playoffs, but I picked Mt. Spokane, which finished runner-up to Ferris, seventh.
No team will go undefeated. Here’s how I see the teams finishing, including their records.
Ferris (8-1): The Saxons will lose at least once. Coach Jim Sharkey’s son, Drew, an all-state defensive end a year ago, will not throw the ball as well as Goodwin did a year ago, but that may not matter – at least in league. The Saxons have plenty of other weapons, beginning with speedy returning running back Kole Heidinger. The Saxons’ defense will prove stout, and a solid offensive line will provide plenty of holes.
Mead (7-2): If there’s a team that can knock off Ferris, it’s Mead. The Panthers will feature speed all over the field. Mead has switched to a Wing-T offense. It’s not a come-from-behind offense, though. So Mead will need to grab the lead and never relinquish it.
Central Valley (6-3): The Bears will earn the third and final State 4A playoff berth, and they will feature arguably the best throwing quarterback in the league in Gaven Deyarmin. Running back Ryan Leone, who missed last year with a rotator cuff injury, will give the Bears a nice one-two punch.
University (6-3): The Titans had a much better summer camp than coach Bill Diedrick anticipated, and they will secure the league’s top State 3A playoff berth. QB Connor Johnson is poised to have a breakout season.
Gonzaga Prep (5-4): The Bullpups will get back to what their program is founded on – the option. They will feature a solid defense and perhaps the best offensive lineman in the league in Max Kelly.
Mt. Spokane (5-4): I ticked off the Wildcats last year with how low I picked them and they showed me with a fast start. Mt. Spokane could finish as high as third, but the big chore ahead is rebuilding its offensive and defensive fronts. Slotback/free safety Chase Naccarato will have an MVP-type season.
Shadle Park (3-6): The Highlanders should be the most improved team in league, and a break here or there and they could earn the other State 3A playoff berth. Shadle returns 19 starters.
Lewis and Clark (3-6): It could be another difficult season for the Tigers. They possess talent, but not enough of it to make a run at a state playoff berth.
Rogers (1-8): The Pirates are tired of measuring improvement by moral victories. They want real wins. A key injury here and there, though, will make that a tall task.
North Central (1-8): The Indians have some talented players, too. Just not enough of them.
Over the border in North Idaho, Coeur d’Alene is a no-brain choice to repeat as the 5A Inland Empire League champ. The Vikings should make a strong run at defending their state championship, too.
Lakeland will nudge past Sandpoint and Moscow for the 4A state berth.