Give us this much: we waited two days. But that’s all I could wait to starting thinking about what teams could be playing at the Tacoma Dome next season. I’ve put together a preliminary list of teams I think could be strong in 2008:
Skyline. The Class 3A champ will move up to Class 4A, but don’t expect too large of a dropoff. The Spartans will lose some important seniors — among them, LB Eric Biege, RB Tyler Washburn and WR Phil Tushar — and there will be much to make up for on the front lines. But simply on offense, Skyline will return quarterback Jake Heaps (sophomore) and receivers Gino Simone, Kasen Williams (freshman) and Jake Knecht. If you watched the 3A title game, you know how well these guys work together. I’d be surprised if Skyline wasn’t our No. 1 next season.
O’Dea. My initial inclination was to look at O’Dea losing its top two runners and defensive backs — Johri Fogerson and Donny Lisowski — and keep the Irish off this list. Then I took a look at at some of the guys coming back on the offensive line:
Danny Kistler, 6-foot-8, 308 pounds, Jr.
Jason Heye, 6-3, 283, So.
Garrett Brown, 6-4, 244, Jr..
Grant Enger, 6-6, 242, Jr.
Ben Riva 6-4, 247, So.
That reads like a pretty big offensive line to me. Zach Fogerson, Johri’s brother, will return after a great sophomore year. So I don’t think it will take too much luck of the Irish to get back.
And no, I can’t believe I just wrote that, either.
Bellevue. The Wolverines had underclassmen playing all over the place this season. At one point, Bellevue had nine starting sophomores, thanks to injuries. It might have not helped this season, but that experience could play out in a big way in 2008. The Wolverines do lose David DeCastro, one of the country’s best offensive linemen. It will be interesting to see how the KingCo conferences align themselves with Skyline and Issaquah’s possible jumps to Class 4A, but it could mean Bellevue’s loses its top two competitors from the past few years from its schedule.
Bothell. The Cougars brought back only six returning starters for this season, and went back to the state championship game. By my count, they’ve got more than that coming back next season, including their leader in touchdowns (fullback Trey Burwick), their top runner in the playoffs (Patrick Ottorbech), an All-KingCo center (Jackson Pierce) and two all-KingCo linebackers (Burwick and Ottorbech). Hard to count out Bothell coming back, but the 4A conference in KingCo coming back.
Other teams whose chances I like:
Kamiakin. Injuries destroyed a team that looked like a major contender halfway through the season. But I won’t count out the Kamiakin defense coming back strong.
Ferndale. We all remember what happened the last time a Locker was a senior. Casey doesn’t have Jake’s hype, but he did take the Golden Eagles to an 11-1 season this time around.
Edmonds-Woodway. Awful lot of major players leaving after this season, but not runner extraordinaire Tony Heard.
Kamiak. Marcel Seely’s return will make this as a defense no one wants to see.
East Valley (Spokane). Word in Spokane is this playoff team had a load of juniors this season and a strong coaching staff. Together, that could make for a state run, like Lewis & Clark did this season. And speaking of…
Lewis & Clark. I’m hesitant to go here because Alex Shaw is going to graduate, and coach Tom Yearout said “he’s the heart and soul” of the Tigers. But if there’s one lesson from the 2007 postseason, it’s this: Don’t count out the LC Tigers.
There have to be more teams out there that like what’s coming back. So now, you tell me, who am I missing?
1. Kelsey Patrick, Kamiak, girls basketball. Scored 20 points in a 55-51 win against Archbishop Murphy.
2. Paese Strickland, Auburn, girls basketball. Led Auburn with 22 points in a 72-37 victory against Seattle Christian. Auburn is 3-0 this season, winning by an average of 54 points.
3. Bryce Schulle, Oak Harbor, boys basketball. Scored 28 points in a 68-47 win against an Australian traveling team.
Tonight’s top games
1. Garfield at Franklin, boys basketball, 7:30 p.m. The city’s tighest rivalry resumes in Franklin’s home opener.
2. Kentwood at Federal Way, boys basketball, 7:30 p.m. Federal Way has already beaten No. 4 Prairie, now looking to knock off the seventh-ranked Conquerors. Before FW’s done, it could play its way into the top five.
3. Seattle Prep at West Seattle, boys basketball, 7:30 p.m. Third-ranked Prep opens the season with the Wildcats, who come of a 16-point victory against Hazen over the weekend.