The summer of 2023 is coming to a close as September high school fall sports get under way. Here are two storylines that should grab your attention going into the fall season.
We’ll start on the gridiron and look at Federal Way High School football.
The Eagles are coming off a state tournament appearance in the 2022 season, their first time making the dance since 2015.
“I’ve been excited about our overall growth and understanding these guys had dudes in front of them and it gave them the opportunity to see what they could be,” said Head Coach Marcus Yzaguirre.
Federal Way under Coach Yzaguirre has re-tooled this year. Taking what they’ve done against their own great players is super important for building confidence this season.
“Everything’s got me excited… ‘You guys got to go against the Andre Jordans, Tylen Jacksons and Jaylon Jenkins. Dude after dude and now it’s your turn’… You’ve gone against the best every day in practice and having the ability to go against those guys should have prepared you. Slowly but surely they started to realize ‘we could play,” Coach Yzaguirre said.
From the QB room to the WR room, the Eagles have talent everywhere.
“Our receivers and defensive backs were (our strength) last year and I feel like that’s going to be our strength again,” the coach said.
A new addition this season is UW linebacker Alphonzo Tuputala’s younger brother Pana, who is ready to go and looks like he is in great form.
“He’s showing he’s got that same gene pool. He’s so athletic, he’ll play defensive back and wide receiver for us,” coach said.
“Last year it was really a shock to me coming in, I didn’t expect to start,” said sophomore Zamaire Tellez. He had a standout freshman year and bolstered the Eagle secondary.
“This year I’ve got a lot more confidence. I’ve been working on my craft in the offseason. I’m ready to go in and play,” Tellez said.
Quarterback-wise, the Eagles will have a new man under center from the jump.
“We got two guys who have been in the program for two and a half years … It’s been fun watching those two develop. Now I’ve got to get a chance to see which one really wants the job,” coach said.
The next sport that should catch your eye is Thomas Jefferson’s boys tennis team. A relatively young program last year matured a lot over the course of the season. Sophomores Sanchit Sharma and Vincent Pham return with a lot of experience this season. Pham brought along with his younger brother, Jason, who is entering as a freshman.
“It’s exciting because he is my brother, it’s great energy,” said Vincent Pham.
Thomas Jefferson tennis under the leadership of Head Coach Andrew Buchan has been one of the better programs in King County. The motivation is there for the team to get a league title, which they haven’t done since 2019.
“These three guys are really good. We should be improved from our 6-6 record last year. Then combine that with other teams having graduated so many seniors… I think we’ll be in the mix,” Buchan said.
Around the 3A NPSL, Auburn Riverside might not be the powerhouse they have been the past couple seasons. With a new coach for the Ravens and the Cigielski twins in the 2022 grad class, the league title is up for grabs.
“I can see the belief. It takes a while to change a culture. The culture of tennis at TJ over the last four years has been good, but not great… But now it’s starting to shift back to ‘we are great,’” Buchan said.
To bring up the championship past, he started posting past achievements of former Raider great tennis players.
“I put all the records up of people here. I’m trying to bring back the history and let them see the history and what they need to do to become great,” he said.
With as young of a program as Buchan has with the Raiders, they could certainly play good enough tennis and compete for a 3A NPSL league championship this season.
“The future looks really bright,” Buchan said.