On our fall camp road tour, we had the pleasure of visiting coach Don Larsen and the Bellarmine Prep Lions. The #2 ranked in Washington at the 4A level according to NEI, the Lions are a legitimate threat to win it all this year. But while most teams put winning a league and state title first, Bellarmine Prep has a different and unique set of priorities. “Here at Bellarmine, we put God 1st.” Said Head Coach Don Larsen. “Then comes family, followed by football.” Practice was started with the team huddled, taking a knee to listen to coach Larsen talk about the book of Ezekial. He gave the story and tied it’s lesson into football.
But don’t get it twisted, Bellarmine wants to win. And they’ve got all the pieces to the puzzle to do so. Getting to the semifinals and losing last year only drove them harder this offseason. “Getting one game away from the championship and losing left a sour taste in all our mouths. “ Said returning all league lineman MacArtney McQuery. He anchors a line that will determine how far the Lions will go this year. At a gigantic 6’4”, 305lbs McQuery is one of the top ranked Juniors in the Northwest and a future major D1 recruit. Speaking of major recruits, the Lions boast a trio at skill positions in QB Sefo Liofau, Calvin Chandler, and Michael Rector. Already a UW commit, Rector is the name most are familiar with. At 6’1”, 190lbs he’s not just a big WR, he also fast(4.38 40yd). With that rare combination, it’s easy to see why he’s NEI’s #1 ranked WR in the entire Northwest. And good news for him, he’s got a QB that’s more than capable of getting the ball to him. Sefo Liofau started last year as a Sophomore and is NEI’s #2 ranked Junior QB in Washington. He has every physical quality you look for in a signal caller. Standing 6’4” tall and weighing 220lbs, he’s already got an NFL body. He’s got a rifle for an arm and is a tremendous athlete. He’s also a great basketball player, and therein lies the issue. Spending a large part of his offseason hooping, he hasn’t been able to dedicate enough time to being a QB and is still very unpolished. It’s a double edged sword because it also means he’s got lots of room for growth and improvement. “This team will go as far as Sefo leads us.” Said Larsen watching him throw routes. The ace in the hole for the Lions is Calvin Chandler. At 5’10” and 185lbs, he’ll be a 2 way starter(SS/WR). While so many defenses will focus their attention and shift their defense towards Rector’s side, look for Calvin to have a huge year. Already a small college caliber player now, if he continues to improve he could end up receiving D1aa offers down the road.
Though it’s not the top priority on their list, Bellarmine should make a deep run into the playoffs and could even win a state title. They just need a few players to step up and also have to remain injury free. And God willing, that will happen.