Ten first-team picks return. They are J.D. Boden of Central Valley, Jonah Jordan of Mead, Brett Rypien of Shadle Park, Cole Karstetter of Ferris, Tanner Pauly of Shadle, Adam Martin of Ferris, Nick Kiourkas of Shadle, Zach Millard of CV, Isaiah Watkins of University and A.J. Layton of Mead.
Highlanders’ passing attack
Rypien got all the headlines last year at Shadle for breaking two big records, but he had lots of help. And his three top receivers return in seniors Pauly, Kiourkas and Skyler Kelley. Pauly led the league with 64 receptions for 1,110 yards; Kelley had 58 for 712; and Kiourkas, who attends Northwest Christian, had 43 for 605. Although NWC is fielding its first team this fall, Kiourkas was granted a waiver by the WIAA to finish at Shadle.
Top returning rusher
Lewis and Clark senior RB Coleton Fitzgerald, who finished with 945 yards.
The coaches picked CV and Ferris to tie for the league title and they face off in the first week at CV. Another game of interest has LC at G-Prep. Both games are Sept. 6.
CV coach Rick Giampietri continues as the dean of the GSL. He begins his 44th year overall, 31st at CV and 21st as the Bears’ head coach. CV is 130-72-1 under Giampietri with three league titles and a state championship (1997).
Around the league
LC returns six starters on offense but must fill in holes along the offensive line. Coach Dave Hughes said the Tigers’ line will be the smallest in recent years. LC’s defense will have to step up to allow the line time to mature. … U-Hi returns eight starters led by senior quarterback Jeff Beaty, who ranked second behind Rypien last year. The Titans must rebuild their defense. “We had a tremendous strength and agility camp that spanned the majority of the summer,” U-Hi coach Rob Bartlett said. “We return the majority of our offensive line along with our quarterback and that should bring stability and strong leadership to our team.” … While G-Prep graduated the majority of its backfield, don’t expect a dropoff in production. The biggest rebuilding job Bullpups coach Dave McKenna faces is the offensive line. All the starters graduated. “If we don’t win the battle in the trenches it could be tough,” McKenna. “We have potential there.”
Lack of numbers continue to plague NC, but Indians coach Brian Gardner is optimistic nonetheless. “We are faster, stronger and more physical as an entire group than in the past,” Gardner said. “We have a core group that works very well together and are pushing themselves to get better every day.” … Mt. Spokane coach Mike McLaughlin begins his 16th season as the Wildcats’ head coach and 31st overall. He returns nine starters. McLaughlin likes his team’s speed but says depth is an issue. … Shadle brings back 15 starters. The biggest question is whether the Highlanders can stop anybody this season. Their defense didn’t spend much time on the field last year. “We will be better defensively,” Shadle coach Alan Stanfield said. The Highlanders expect to compete for the league title.
With just six starters returning, Rogers is light on experience. But a Matt Miethe team is never short on enthusiasm. “We graduated a senior class that we leaned on last year,” Miethe said. “We graduated 90 percent of our offense. We look for our younger players to push our older players and compete in practice.” … Mead returns seven starters and picked up two big transfers in Braden Barranco from Newport and Daniel Munoz from Mt. Spokane. Barranco was a two-way all-league pick at running back/defensive back while Munoz, a junior, started six games at quarterback. He’ll be a slotback for Mead. “We’ve got some pretty good skill kids overall,” Mead coach Sean Carty said. The Panthers’ fly offense will feature as many as seven players carrying the ball each game.
The first GSL game is Sept. 5 at Joe Albi Stadium featuring U-Hi and Mead. … Seven times there will be a doubleheader at Albi on Thursdays. The openers are at 4:15 with the second game scheduled to begin at 7:15. … There will be a doubleheader every Friday at Albi. The times have been moved up to allow the second game to start as close to on time as possible. The openers are scheduled for 5 with the nightcap listed with a 7:30 start time.
The road to the playoffs
The top two 4A teams and the top two 3A teams will face off with Mid-Columbia Conference teams in play-in games to decide state berths.
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