(Washington St commit #2 Markell Sanders 6-1 185 Sr. DB will be a big factor in 2012)
Second-year coach Jeremy Thielbahr hopes to build on last seasonâ€™s 7-4 squad and he has some intriguing prospects to build around.
At quarterback, the Crusaders return starter Trey Reynolds (6â€™0, 185) who as a junior in 2011 completed 61.5% of his passes for 1,566 yards with 13 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He also rushed for a team-leading 762 yards while with five more scores. Reynolds is a very good athlete and should be the starter this fall, however, he will need to fight off sophomore Blake Maimone (6â€™6, 220) and talented freshman Harley Kirsch (6â€™3, 200) who both promise to push the senior for playing time.
At tailback, Thielbahr and the rest of the offensive staff have quite a few weapons at their disposal, and even with the loss of Chevy Walker they have the potential to be lethal on the ground.
Senior running back Henry Jarvis, a 5â€™11, 220-pounder, rushed for 213 yards and three touchdowns is a great north-south runner and is also a solid lead blocker. He will be joined by jumbo athletes Elisha (5â€™9, 240), a junior and Deion Fetui, a 5â€™11, 290-pound sophomore, who both are very athletic and are devastating blockers.
Senior Zane Allen (6â€™0, 200) and rising sophomore Addison Hall (5â€™8, 150) are two players that the Crusaders will use as change-of-pace backs, and both will be in the mix for playing time. Hall has been described by Thielbahr as â€œlightning in a bottleâ€ ,and he has the ability to make people miss in the open field while running away from defenders.
The wide receiver corps returns a senior-laden group that includes Johnny Michalik (6â€™1, 190), Peter Kimble (6â€™1, 195), Luke Lattanzio (5â€™8, 155), Justin Musser (6â€™2, 195) and Hayden Meier (5â€™11, 190) as well as junior Jacob Wells (6â€™1, 165) who was injured most of last season.
Meier is the leading returning receiver from last yearâ€™s team, after hauling in 18 receptions for 246 yards and three touchdowns.Lattanzio hauled in 15 catches for 201 yards and a touchdown, and Kimble notched 10 receptions for 122 yards and a score.
Thielbahr and his staff love to platoon their wideouts, so donâ€™t expect them to put up huge numbers, but all of them will play a vital role this fall and could be players to watch in the early part of the season.
Along the offensive line, the Crusaders are led up front by three seniors (Christian Shigley, Joey Symmons [6â€™3, 250] and Hunter Hudgens [6â€™4, 255]). Shigley is the top recruit of the bunch with offers from several Ivy League schools. He uses his 6â€™4, 260-pound frame to be physical in the running game, but also has the feet and athleticism to keep pass-rushers at bay.
Joining those seniors will be a trio of underclassmen including juniors Jake Springfield (6â€™4, 230), Jake DeValerio (5â€™11, 220), and sophomore Alex Neale (6â€™2, 225). Springfield is slated to play right guard as we head toward training camp, while Neale and DeValerio will battle for the starting center position.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Crusaders run a 3-3-5 scheme and could have one of the best defensive lines in all of 3A this fall. Deion Fetui and Elisha Paâ€™aga are holding down two of the three spots along the line, and Moni Iaone (6â€™2, 240) is the other starter.
Last season, Fetui ended up with the season with 41 tackles (28 solo) from his nose tackle position. With his squatty frame, heâ€™s almost impossible to move off of the ball and with a year of varsity experience under his belt, he could be a real force inside.
Paâ€™aga holds down one of the defensive end positions and is a solid pass-rusher, but also holds the edge well.
At linebacker, Zane Allen led the team with 65 tackles and he will hold down the linebacker spot while David Hurdle (6â€™1, 220) finished third with 51 tackles to go along with six tackles-for-loss.
Joining those two will be either senior Jared Shattenkerk (5â€™10, 185) or senior Brian Cox (6â€™1, 210).
In the secondary, perhaps Eastside Catholics best player, CB Markell Sanders (6â€™1, 185) leads the way. The Washington State commit finished the season with 31 tackles and three interceptions, but those numbers were held down because teams rarely threw to his side of the field. Sanders locks the opposing teamâ€™s best wideout up and heâ€™s a physical tackler.
Also in the mix for playing time is Peter Kimble, a safety prospect, who has schools from the Big Sky as well as the Pac 12 giving him a long look after he posted 47 tackles from his safety spot last season.
Some other players to keep an eye on in the secondary include senior Cole Ivanoff (5â€™9, 150), junior Colin Boit (6â€™2, 180) and rising freshman Devon Jackson (5â€™9, 150) who could wind up being the best of the bunch before itâ€™s all said and done.
The Crusaders do not have an easy road this fall with out of conference games against Liberty (Issaquah), 4A power Eastlake and Centennial from British Columbia which is one of the better prep teams north of the border.
They also have to face the gauntlet in Metro League play with the likes of rising teams like Bishop Blanchet, Bainbridge, Seattle Prep and the always talent-laden Rainier Beach.
Thielbahr thinks he has the team to do it. Now they just have to go out and prove their coach was right.
(#11 Trey Reynolds is listed as one of NEI’s Top 10 WA QB’s and will need to lead the Crusaders)