We are this close to the fall sports season, with games beginning Thursday night and going all throughout the weekend. The Emerald City Kickoff will be this weekend at Qwest, the Emerald City volleyball tournament is Friday at Eastlake, and two of the area’s top football teams head down to Portland to face Oregon’s best.
So we begin today with our first football rankings (As a side note, we will be having Times volleyball and girls soccer polls this fall, too, and those will begin in the next week or so).
Here’s one thing I can guarantee you: next week’s rankings will look completely different. These are predictions, and once reality sets in — actual games — we can begin to base our assessments on football and not returning starters and games last season. We won’t be keeping at team at No. 1 simply because they started there. And we won’t keep a team out simply because they didn’t start on our watch list.
Now some thoughts on what went into these rankings:
-Skyline has some awfully high national rankings — as high as fourth — and I guess this should be the point where I remind everyone just how much the Spartans lost on defense, but we have them at the top, too. Maybe I’ve seen too many replays of Jake Heaps and Gino Simone from last season. Someone will have to keep that offense down.
-Did you know Bothell had 70 sophomores come out last season? They split them into two teams — so in other words, they have 44 returning starters moving into the junior class. That program simply reloads and reloads, and you have to like that backfield of Patrick Ottorbech and Trey Burwick, not to mention a tough secondary.
-Olympia returns 38 seniors from last season’s playoff team.
-As for the Greater Spokane League, word from the East is that any of about five teams could win that league this year, but we’ll give the defending state champions the benefit of the doubt before they play the games. Same for Ferris, though they’ll have to reload at almost every skill position.
-In Class 3A, we think any of four teams could be No. 1: Bellevue, O’Dea, Kennedy and Ferndale. But these are rankings, and you have to pick a No. 1, so we went with Bellevue because of how many players the Wolverines bring back who played last year, and you simply can never count out the wing-T. Jamal Atofau is going to create some havoc on defense, and once RB Peter Nguyen finds a hole, he’s gone.
-But we really like O’Dea (huge line, great runners, solid defense), Kennedy (there seems to be talent everywhere on that team) and Ferndale (returns so much experience and talent).
-This could be a big year for Meadowdale in the new WesCo 3A. But the Mavericks get a challenge right from the start, going up against Edmonds-Woodway this Friday night.
-One sleeper team this November? Look out for Hanford. They might get bruised a bit by some 4As over in the Columbia Basin this year, but there’s plenty of buzz about the talent they have this season.
Can’t wait for the games to get going. I’ll be at four this weekend: Issaquah-Bothell on Thursday at Pop Keeney, Prosser-Redmond on Friday and then the Bellevue and Skyline games Saturday at Portland. We’ll have live blog updates from that double-header, for anyone who can’t make the trip. I’m pretty sure the Times is also going to be at the Federal Way-Auburn, Kennedy-Kentwood and Woodway-Meadowdale showdowns this weekend.
And finally, the rankings:
1. Skyline (Sammamish)
5. Lewis & Clark (Spokane)
6. Oak Harbor
7. Federal Way
8. Ferris (Spokane)
9. Evergreen (Vancouver)
3. Kennedy (Burien)
5. Meadowdale (Lynnwood)
6. Lakes (Lakewood)
7. Franklin Pierce (Tacoma)
8. East Valley (Spokane)
9. Olympic (Bremerton)
Tomorrow: our preseason all-state team.