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High schools ready for some football
The four high school across Federal Way opened up football practice Wednesday morning under familiar skies — rainy.
Usually, the beginning of training camp at Federal Way, Jefferson, Decatur and Beamer means sweating profusely under the mid-August heat that usually engulfs Western Washington.
But that wasn’t the case this year. Wednesday and Thursday’s practices looked like ones that the teams will be going through around Halloween time smack dab in the middle of a cold, rainy Pacific Northwest autumn.
But, the record-setting downpours earlier this week couldn’t dampen the optimism, especially at Federal Way High School.
The Eagles snared the school’s first South Puget Sound League championship in 31 years a season ago after putting together a perfect 8-0 run through the North Division. But things didn’t end the way Federal Way wanted them to.
The Eagles were upset in the first round of the Class 4A State Playoffs by Cascade High School on their home turf at Federal Way Memorial Stadium. It was the second year in a row that head coach John Meagher led the Eagles into the postseason.
But Federal Way will have to do it this year without the services of some very key players from a season ago. Gone are All-SPSL quarterback/linebacker Justin Southern, All-SPSL wide receiver/defensive back Aaron Broussard, cornerback Justin Amundsen, lineman Jonathan Detzler, receiver Greylin James, lineman Marcus James and lineman Dennis Kirkpatrick.
But Meagher will still have plenty of talent lining up for the Eagles in 2008, including two of the most sought-after recruits in the state. Running back Andre Barrington and linebacker Andru Pulu are receiving plenty of interest from programs after monster junior seasons.
Barrington might be the most gifted athlete in the district. The 6-1, 200-pounder has rushed for over 1,000 yards in his sophomore and junior seasons at Federal Way, played varsity basketball for the Eagles since his freshman year and ran at the state track meet for the last two years. Last season, Barrington ran for 1,028 yards and 18 total touchdowns.
Pulu was the man in the middle of the Federal Way defense and has the perfect size (6-2, 245) to play linebacker in college. He finished second on the Eagles in tackles behind Barrington.
Federal Way will get a very good gauge of what the season holds when they open at home against the Auburn Trojans on Sept. 4 in a huge game. Auburn returns to the SPSL North after a two-year stint at the Class 3A level. The Trojans have advanced to the state playoffs the last three years and return plenty of talent from a season ago.
Optimism is also the word that best describes the attitudes at the other three Federal Way high schools. Things can’t get much worse than a season ago for Jefferson, Decatur and Beamer.
The three schools combined to win just one game during their South Puget Sound League seasons.
Decatur and Beamer both were winless in league play and Jefferson finished 1-6, with their only win coming over the Gators.
But the three schools should all feel a little more comfortable this year, compared to last. All three programs were under new leadership a season ago and their records reflected that transition.
Back for their second seasons at the helm of the programs are Dean Peck at Jefferson, Leon Hatch at Decatur and Gem Abe at Beamer.
Despite the records, all three schools produced a Division I-A signee. Jefferson wide receiver Bryant Cameron, Decatur running back Chase King and Beamer lineman Evan Cook all signed full-ride scholarships to play at Eastern Washington University.
The Raiders open their 2008 season at home against the Tahoma Bears on Sept. 5, Decatur gets things going at Emerald Ridge on Sept. 5 and Beamer travels to Spanaway Lake on Sept. 4. The Gators are back in the SPSL South after a two seasons in the North Division.
Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565, email@example.com