Team to beat — Marysville-Pilchuck
For those counting, the Tomahawks’ league winning streak sits at eight. M-P, whose only loss the past two seasons came against eventual state runner-up Issaquah in the first round of the 2008 state playoffs, has already crushed Snohomish 36-12. Take out the 47-41 win over Skyview (a victory that looks even better since the Storm knocked off then-ranked Camas last week) and the No. 10 Tomahawks have outscored their opponents 101-19.
Team with a sense of urgency — Stanwood
In his first year as Stanwood head coach, Aaron Cupp has faced opponents with a combined 15-1 record. How’s that for bad luck?
Unfortunately the schedule hardly lightens up for the Spartans, who had grand aspirations with a multitude of key returnees. Stanwood hosts Monroe and Snohomish along with – get this – Ferndale (unranked but always dangerous) — and travels to Oak Harbor and Arlington (The Stilly Cup).
Team exceeding expectations — Snohomish
Snohomish lost a lot off its first-round state team, namely current WSU baseball star Derek Jones. Keep in mind, too, that the second-year school up the road a few miles (Glacier Peak) has a slew of players that would start for the Panthers. But their lone loss was to M-P and they already have an impressive win on their resume (Kamiak in the opener). Nick Hund (474 yards, seven touchdowns), a 6-2, 200-pound senior, has carried on the tradition of great Snohomish running backs.
Breakout star — Brennan Frost (Lake Stevens)
Electric junior Duke Dolphin was going to be the Vikings’ main offensive threat before suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament right before the season started. Frost, a 5-11, 190-pound senior and also Lake Stevens’ punter, has been a standout stand-in: 365 yards and four touchdowns.
Lake Stevens heads to M-P next week for what figures to be one of the best North matchups – if not the matchup – of the year. Likewise, the Vikings host Snohomish in the season finale on Oct. 29 (a Thursday).
Throwin’ some picks
M-P figures to go unblemished once again, and for the second straight year it looks like Lake Stevens and Snohomish will snag the league’s other two playoff berths. Of the four other hopefuls, however, I’d actually give 0-1 Oak Harbor the best shot. The Wildcats have a ton of seniors, a proven runner (Donovan Hunt) and seem to be close to getting their new spread offense under raps.