Six first-team picks return. They are two-way selection Kian Genteman of Freeman, Coleton Collins of Lakeside, Dustin Olson of Chewelah, Tommy Norman of Chewelah, Ryan Cotner of Riverside and Chris Noonan of Lakeside.
Braden Barranco, a two-way starter at running back and safety for Newport last year, transferred to Mead.
Around the league
The NEA and the Caribou Trail League face off in the first round of the playoffs, and the CTL has had its way against the NEA in recent years. NEA coaches believe things could change this year. “The league should be up,” Lakeside coach Brian Dunn said. Defending champ Chewelah suffered the biggest losses to graduation. “We will have to work our tails off to win in league for sure,” Chewelah coach Jim Fisk said. “We don’t have enough depth in our skill positions. It’s different for us because we’ve had plenty of depth in the past.” Newport, Riverside and Kettle Falls finished in the bottom third last year. Just where they’ll shake out this season is a mystery, the coaches say. “Kettle Falls has a lot experience,” Fisk said. “They’re not going to be a push over.”
Road to the playoffs
The top three teams square off with the top three Caribou Trail League teams in play-in games to determine which teams advance to state.