Five Key Players
OL Tanner Torr (6’4, 290) – The senior earned Second-Team All-SPSL last season as a junior and is one of the top returning linemen in the league this fall. He’ll play both ways for the Royals, but his future in college will be on the offensive line. He’s got a powerful lower-body and he plays with an edge. Plenty of college coaches are keeping an eye on him this fall and he could very well start seeing some offers roll in after the first month of the season.
RB/CB Gabriel Gallman (5’8, 175) – Gallman is versatile and he is an impact player. He might not be the biggest player on the field, but he’s one of the toughest and the coaches really like the potential of the junior athlete and the impact he can have for them this fall.
RB/S Shamar “Malik” Woolery (5’8, 160) – Woolery, a junior, is another player of slight build with a lot of toughness. He’ll see quite a bit of reps on the secondary rotation, but his main contribution will be on offense where he’ll see a lot of carries in the Royals’ run-heavy scheme.
RB/LB Vinnie Malietufa (5’8, 220) – Malietufa is a hard-nosed, two-way player with a ton of leadership and experience. As a senior, he’ll start in the middle of the KM defense, but he’ll also be a bruising fullback in the offensive backfield.
WR/LB Emmanuel Daigbe (6’0, 170) – Daigbe is probably the most athletic player on Kent Meridian’s roster. He popped onto recruiting radars this summer when he blew up at a local camp and he’s got the size, work-ethic and talent to be a big-time player over the next two years. While his future likely lies on the offensive side of the ball at receiver, the junior’s biggest role with the Royals, at least this coming fall, will be from his outside linebacker spot where his speed, athleticism and football instincts are huge factors in the way he plays.
In 2013, Kent Meridian stumbled their way to a 3-7 record, but three of their losses – to rival Kentwood along with Kentridge and Auburn – were by a combined total of seven points.
This year, as long as they can stay healthy, they should be able to make some noise in the SPSL 4A Northeast Division.
At quarterback, head coach Brett Allen has a decision to make, but it appears that sophomore Ben Woods will be the starter.
Woods, a talented baseball player, has a very good arm and he’s smart too, one of the things that Allen puts a premium on to lead his offense.
In KM’s system, the quarterback is used as a point guard, asked to distribute and get the ball to his playmakers.
In the backfield, senior Vinnie Malietufa is the hammer while juniors Gabriel Gallman and Shamar “Malik” Woolery are the jitter bugs who keep the chains moving for the Royals.
At receiver, junior Emmanuel Daigbe returns after a solid sophomore season. He’ll be counted on to make plays down the field, but look for Allen and the rest of the offensive staff devise ways to get him the ball on short routes, allowing him to use his open-field running skills to make plays.
The offensive line returns a lot of experience in seniors Tanner Torr, Jacob Gartland and Junior Siafuafu and junior Marquise Card.
Torr is the headliner and he’s an All-SPSL type who can pass-block or run-block with equal aplomb, but keep an eye on Card, 6’0, 280-pounder who plays with a nasty side.
The Royals rely on a lot of their linemen to play both ways and the two that see the most time on defense are Gartland and Siafuafu.
The third defensive lineman is senior Angel Cheema, a 6’3, 220-pounder who will man one of the defensive end spots.
The linebacker spot is in great shape with Daigbe and Malietufa and then when you add in David N’guessa who, in addition to being a solid tackler, led the Royals with two picks last season.
Kent Meridian’s secondary has lots of experience as well, with Gallman and Woolery manning two of the spots.
Senior Nate Barton, a 6’1, 160-pounder with quickness and ball skills, will hold down one of the corner spots while junior Marc Dennis is going to be counted on at safety.
The Bottom Line: Allen and his coaching staff have worked hard to develop a program that won’t have to survive the roller-coaster rides of the past. Even though the Royals finished 3-7, they were seven points away from finishing 6-4. With a talented junior class to provide depth and some very productive seniors, Kent Meridian could be a team on the rise in the SPSL. Making the post-season this fall has to be a realistic goal for them and from there, they should be able to build on things and continue on the upward trend toward the top third of their league.
vs. Auburn 9/13
vs. Kentlake 9/26
at Kentwood 10/17