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PREP FOOTBALL PREVIEW: Eagles hoping to soar once again; Decatur, Beamer and TJ improved
Federal Way Eagles
Coach: John Meagher
Last year’s record: 11-1 (first in SPSL South)
Top returners: Jr. Chico McClatcher, RB, (5-8, 180); Sr. Keenan Curran, QB/DB, (6-2, 190); Sr. Jay-Tee Tiuli, OL/DL, (6-3, 300); Sr. Eric Ah Fua, FB/DL, (5-9, 245); Jr. Jared Pulu, OT/LB, (6-3, 235); Sr. David Tiumalu, C/LB, (5-11, 245).
Key newcomers: Sr. Ryan Gnoinsky, WR, (6-1, 165); Sr. Travis Martin, OLB, (6-0, 185).
Thomas Jefferson Raiders
Coach: Dean Peck
Last year’s record: 3-7 (seventh in SPSL North)
Top returners: Sr. Niko Delacruz, QB, (6-0, 185); Sr. Nate Pardo, OT, (6-3, 270); Sr. Shane Seuamae, FB/LB, (5-11, 270); Sr. Philip Cuadros, WR/DB, (6-0, 180).
Key newcomers: Jr. Zach Grayson, RB, (6-2, 200); Soph. Justin Madden, WR/DB, (5-9, 170).
Todd Beamer Titans
Coach: Darren McKay
Last year’s record: 3-7 (eighth in SPSL South)
Top returners: Jr. Brody Martinez, RB, (5-10, 186); Sr. Anthony Allen, WR/DB, (5-9, 170); Sr. Chase McKenzie, OL, (5-10, 222); Sr. Adrian Shocks, WR, (6-1, 165); Jr. Jason Vaafuti, FB, (5-8, 192); Sr. Marcus Schimmelfennig, DB, (5-9, 173); Jr. Deshay Ware, DB, (5-10, 175); Jr. Chris Fa’amalele, DL, (5-11, 258); Sr. Cody Rousseau, LB, (5-11, 177); Jr. Jordan Jennings, LB, (6-2, 212); Jr. Kepa Sharpe, DL, (5-9, 213); Sr. Peter Lee, OL, (6-1, 231).
Key newcomer: Jr. Taylor Davis, QB, (6-1, 170).
Coach: Leon Hatch
Last year’s record: 2-8 (fifth in SPSL 3A)
Top returners: Sr. Noel Maafala, RB/LB, (6-1, 240); Jr. Isaiah Hatch, QB, (5-9, 172); Jr. Marlon Andrews, OL/DE, (6-3, 325); Jr. Isaiah Diggs, RB/DB, (5-6, 160); Jr. Teban Mansary, OT/DL, (6-1, 302); Sr. Nelson David, OG/DE, (6-1, 260); Sr. Devin Brown, RB/WR, (5-10, 185); Sr. Josiah (Eki) Goulding, LB, (6-1, 235); Sr. Jared Cooper, LB, (6-1, 210); Jr. Keandre Blackshire, S, (5-11, 175); Sr. Max Henry, SS, (6-2, 195).
Key newcomers: None listed
The Federal Way Eagles’ football program has become the gold-standard in the South Puget Sound League South Division. The Eagles have cruised to the last two SPSL South Division titles with perfect records, and their last regular season loss came during the 2010 season.
And it looks like that dominance should continue this year. After rolling through last season with 11 wins in a row and the second-ranking in the state, Federal Way lost to Camas in the Class 4A quarterfinals.
The Eagles only return five starters from that team on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball, but still have a massive amount of talent coming back.
Despite losing those six starters on both offense and defense, including four Division-I signees, the Eagles might be a better all-around team than last year. A bulk of the improvement should come on both the offensive and defensive lines.
“We graduated a lot of skill players last year, so our current skill players don’t have as much experience as we did last year,” head coach John Meagher said. “Our line play should be improved from last year as we are bringing back three offensive linemen and all three of our interior defensive linemen.”
Back are linemen Jay-Tee Tiuli, David Tiumalu, Eric Ah Fua and Jared Pulu, who will be clearing holes. Tiuli is the biggest and best of the bunch. The 6-foot-3, 300-pounder will play on both sides of the ball and is already listed on the MaxPreps 2013 Washington Preseason All-State Team as a defensive lineman.
“Jay-Tee should command a double-team on every play,” Meagher said.
And, like a season ago, the Eagles will still have plenty of explosive firepower at the skill positions. Despite losing playmakers like leading rusher Ezekiel McNeal, leading passer Evan Elliott and their two leading receivers, Mike Tate and D’Londo Tucker, the Eagles still have a pair of players capable of scoring every time they touch the ball.
Senior Keenan Curran will take over duties at quarterback and junior Chico McClatcher might be the most dynamic player in the entire state.
“They are both explosive players that can score with the ball in their hands at any time or place on the field,” Meagher said.
McClatcher finished with 615 yards on just 62 carries at running back, including six touchdown runs. He also caught 11 passes for 337 yards, including seven touchdown catches. He also returned four punts for touchdowns and averaged 31 yards per return.
Defensively, Curran was also named to the Max Preps Preseason All-State Team as a free safety. The 6-foot-2, 190-pounder won the state triple jump title in the spring and will be the Eagles’ center fielder on defense.
The linebacking corps will include Pulu, Tiumala and Travis Martin, among others. It’s a group that will benefit from the talent on the defensive line.
Federal Way will open its SPSL South title defense by traveling to Puyallup to take on the Rogers Rams on Friday, Sept. 6.
The Gators return a ton of players from last year’s team that won two games in the rugged SPSL 3A Division. Head coach Leon Hatch brings back an amazing 17 starters, including nine on the offensive side of the ball and eight on defense.
Leading the list is senior Noel Maafala. Last year, he was a bruising runner for the Gators. The 6-foot-1, 240-pounder led Decatur with 703 yards and eight touchdowns. Maafala had a pair of 100-yard games, including 102 yards and two touchdowns against Enumclaw. He was a first-team, All-SPSL 3A Division selection.
Maafala, along with junior running back Isaiah Diggs and junior quarterback Isaiah Hatch, will have plenty of beef on the offensive line.
The line will be anchored by Marlon Andrews, Teban Mansary and Nelson David. Andrews stands 6-3 and weighs 325 pounds; Mansary is 6-1, 302; and David is 6-1, 260. The Gators will also count on senior running back/wide receiver Devin Brown to make some plays.
“(Andrews) is big, fast and quick,” Hatch said. “He did well against top linemen at the Oregon State University football camp.”
Defensively, the Gators will also be strong up front with the same threesome playing on the line. The linebacking crew will be led by Josiah (Eki) Goulding and Jared Cooper, and a strong defensive backfield will include Diggs, Deandre Blackshire and Max Henry.
Decatur opens its season with a non-league game against the Wilson Rams on Thursday, Sept. 5, at Federal Way Memorial Stadium.
Todd Beamer Titans
The Titans also bring back plenty of talent from a season ago for second-year head coach Darren McKay. Beamer returns eight starters on both sides of the ball for a team that finished 3-7.
The returning starters, along with a year to assimilate to new head coach Darren McKay, should make for a better year at Beamer. McKay was hired less than two months before the start of the 2012 season after former head coach David Sundheim unexpectedly resigned. McKay coached Gig Harbor for 12 years.
“We began training one week after the season ended,” McKay said about the Titans. “We still have work to do, but our gains in strength are noticeable.”
Offensively, the Titans return a bulk of their playmakers from a season ago and should be led by junior running back Brody Martinez. The 5-foot-10, 186-pounder is slated to get a bulk of the carries. He was a trade-off starter and return man a season ago for the Titans.
Also back is Anthony Allen, who led Beamer in rushing yards and touchdowns last year; leading wide receiver Adrian Shocks; and quarterback Taylor Davis. The Titans will also be better up front on the offensive line. McKay moved a pair of former fullbacks, Peter Lee and Chris Fa’amalele, onto the line.
“That has made us more athletic and physical up front,” McKay said.
Defensively, the Titans should be led by cornerback Marcus Schimmelfennig. He finished with three interceptions a season ago and is Beamer’s best cover corner, according to McKay.
Also back will be linebackers Cody Rousseau and Jordan Jennings, along with linemen Fa’amalele and Kepa Sharpe. Also back are defensive backs Dashay Ware and Allen.
The Titans open the season at 1 p.m. Sept. 7 at Sparks Stadium against the Puyallup Vikings.
The Raiders are hoping to improve on a season ago, when TJ won three games in the rugged SPSL North Division. Head coach Dean Peck returns eight starters on offense and eight on the defense.
Offensively, the Raiders will be led again by senior quarterback Niko Delacruz, who is entering his second year at the helm of TJ. Delacruz is an “amazing athlete with great speed,” according to Peck.
Delacruz will be handing the ball off to junior running back Zach Grayson. The 6-foot-2, 200-pounder has impressed in the preseason with his cutting ability and strength. He is also a very good rugby player.
The 6-foot-3, 270-pound Nate Pardo will anchor the offensive line for the Raiders, and Philip Cuadros, TJ’s leading receiver a season ago, is also back. The Raiders will also get some help from speedy wide receiver Ty Williams.
Defensively, Jefferson should again be led by senior Shane Seuamae. The 5-11, 270-pounder led the SPSL in tackles for losses in fewer games than most other players. In just seven games, Seuamae tallied 20.5 tackles behind the line for a loss of 57 yards for the Raiders. He also had 62.5 tackles in seven games, including 49 solo tackles.
The Raiders open their 2013 season at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 6, against the Kentlake Falcons at Federal Way Memorial Stadium.