To evaluate even only the top high-school teams in Washington, this early, this long before teams begin summer practice, would be an unenviable task. To do so with the thousands of schools in the country, I wouldn’t know where to get started.
MaxPreps is giving it a shot. And one Washington team made its list. This time of year, the top recruits get much of the attention, so it’s not too much of a surprise to see Skyline in the top 25. Take it for whatever you think it’s worth, but the Web site has listed the Spartans of Sammamish 20th in the country. Last year’s 3A champion has one of the top quarterbacks in the country in junior Jake Heaps and a pair of excellent receivers in Gino Simone and Kasen Williams. Those three guys have been quite popular with the recruiting sites the past three or four months. Also returning: senior receiver Jake Knecht, senior linebacker Ryan Somers, senior guard Grant Engel, and junior Jase Butorac (who held Kavario Middleton sackless in a playoff game) to name some. The hype surrounding this team is not without merit.
Yet more than half its offensive line will be rebuilt, as will much of the defense — which had as much to do with a state title last year as that offense. The KingCo 3A defensive player of the year, Eric Biege, has graduated. And the Spartans coach, Steve Gervais, is now with his former center’s father — Tyrone Willingham — at the UW. There’s a lot of optimism surrounding new coach Mat Taylor, but he’ll have to navigate the ultra-tough new KingCo 4A this season. Won’t be easy.
I remember the surprises of a year ago. Such as Skyline, ranked seventh in Class 3A before the season, going undefeated with a sophomore quarterback, first toppling Bellevue in the opener, then beating that Lakes team with all its college recruits, then overcoming Johri Fogerson’s 297-yard game at the Tacoma Dome. And Lewis & Clark. Forget preseason rankings — they weren’t ranked after the regular season. Yet the Tigers rolled through the postseason and sent top-ranked Bothell to a second consecutive championship loss.
These high-school seasons are awfully difficult to predict. By placing Skyline 20th, MaxPreps has said Skyline should be Washington’s top team. We’ll see how this prediction pans out.