I saw eight of the 10 Greater Spokane League football teams in season-opening games last week.
I didn’t see Mead or University. I didn’t have to see Mead play, though, to know what I already know – that the Panthers should have little difficulty during the regular season.
The Panthers possess too much of everything, particularly experience, than the rest of the GSL. The majority of followers at SportsLink also agree. In a poll last week, 39 percent (104 voters) said Mead would win the league. Next closest was Gonzaga Prep at 14.66 percent, followed by Central Valley at 9 percent (24). Ferris was next at 7.89 percent (21) and Lewis and Clark and Shadle Park were tied at 7.52 percent (20 each).
That doesn’t mean the rest of the league is chopped liver, though. I was encouraged by what I saw. The chase for the second 4A play-in berth and the two 3A play-in berths will involve tug-of-wars throughout the season.
And over in North Idaho, it’s safe to say that two-time defending 5A state champ Coeur d’Alene is on the path to a threepeat. I can’t wait to watch the Vikings take on defending Washington State 4A champ Skyline of Sammamish on Sept. 15 at the Kibbie Dome. That could be the game of the year. It’ll certainly be a gauge as to how good CdA is and can be and it should also let us know if Mead will contend for a state championship.
So here are a few early impressions.
• Mead will go undefeated in league. No other team has a defense that’s capable of slowing down the Panthers.
The only way teams will have a shot at Mead is if Mead implodes. It’s also doubtful that any league team can sustain several drives against the Panthers.
• In general, the other nine teams are good. That’s a statement that can’t be uttered every year.
There’s no shame in the fact that the rest of the league is playing for second. I’d say it’s a four-team battle for second among G-Prep, Ferris, Mt. Spokane and LC. Yes, I’d still include the Tigers after an opening loss to G-Prep.
I see the other five teams jumbled together at this point, but Shadle and CV could separate themselves.
Rogers will be a player and have an impact on deciding play-in berths. In fact, I expect the Pirates to contend for one of the 3A play-in berths. But being as one-dimensional as they are could catch up with them against the better teams.
North Central has some quality players. The problem with the Indians, though, is depth. They had nine players starting on both sides of the line of scrimmage last week. NC can’t survive doing that all year.
University was hit hard by graduation, at least in most of the skill areas. The Titans will make strides under first-year coach Rob Bartlett this year. But they have quite a gap to close at this point to challenge for an upper-division finish.
• The team I was most impressed with last week? Easy answer: G-Prep.
The Bullpups are explosive on offense behind quarterback Zach Bonneau and speedy/strong running back Griffen Hare, both seniors. Bonneau does a nice job executing the option, and he rarely makes a poor read. He’s added the ability to throw the ball downfield, and that element gives G-Prep a vital third option.
Hare has the ability to go the distance every time he touches the ball. When it comes to crunch time the ball will be in either Bonneau’s or Hare’s hands, to be sure.
• Ferris is young, yes, but the Saxons are growing up quickly. It’s something about coach Jim Sharkey’s system that allows athletes to thrive.