Five Key Players
RB Conner Kennedy (5’9″ 185, ’15) – Kennedy rushed for 1,075 yards in 2013, on way to being named first team All-Evergreen Conference. He has good speed, great vision and a knack for carrying defenders. He has big play potential every time he touches the ball
FB/LB Ryan Rieta (5’8″ 200, ’15) – Rieta was named first team All-Evergreen Conference after rushing to 1,056 yards last season as a junior. He has the speed of a runningback and the nastiness of a fullback. On his way to being a four year letterman for the Cougars.
WR/SS Jacob Johnson (5’11” 185, ’15) – Johnson is a three-year starter for the Cougars, and was named first team All-Evergreen Conference last season, after a second team nomination as a sophomore. As talented as he is defensively, he is equally explosive with the ball in his hands on offense.
OL/DL Mason Manning (6’5″ 250, ’15) – Manning has had a tremendous offseason, culminating with an offer from Eastern Washington. He was a second team All-Evergreen Conference member last season. With a good senior season, he could see his stock skyrocket.
DL Duncan Mattson (6’4″ 230, ’15) – Mattson is one of the top defensive lineman, coming off a first team All-League year in 2013. The coaching staff loves his competitive spirit and work ethic. He is a sound tackler, with a nose for the ball and shows a good motor.
John Johnson is in his 8th year as head coach of the Cougars, and has put together a rather impressive resume in such a short time. His teams have qualified for the playoffs each year of his tenure, and have reached the semifinals three times (2008, 2010 and 2012).
Johnson praises the commitment of both his athletes and coaches, as the Cougars move back up to the 3A classification this coming season, joining the Narrows conference.
The Cougar offense is based around the running game, and for good reason, as they are one of the few teams that can say they have two thousand-yard runningbacks. The coaching staff knows they can lean on Conner Kennedy and Ryan Reita to move the chains and control the clock.
Jacob Johnson is the main receiving target for the Cougars, and saw his fair share of carries last season as a wingback. You can expect to see senior Jacob Pratt at receiver as well.
Cody Jenkins returns at quarterback, after an impressive sophomore season, and looks to be one of the top athletes in the 2016 recruiting class.
Offensively line play has been a staple of good Capital offenses since Johnson took over, and this season should be no different. Mason Manning reminds me of former Cougar tackle Mat Cox (North Dakota), with a long frame that looks ready to add weight for D1 play.
Joining Manning on the offensive line is two-way starter Drew Johnson, who is considered to be an anchor inside on both sides of the ball. Opposite of Manning at tackle will be junior Dallen Pritchett, who was an honorable mention last season.
The Cougars could really make some noise defensively. They have experience, leadership and just the right amount of toughness to rattle opposing offensives.
Manning and Johnson team with Duncan Mattson to form a top notch odd-front, with each taking home All-League awards last season.
Linebacker play is the strength of the Cougar defense, with Sam LeBlanc returning after a first team All-League season a year ago. He is the unquestioned leader of the defense, and an athlete with All-State capabilities.
Junior Gavin Armitage is back after being named second team All-League, and looks to be one of the more athletic LB’s in the 2016 recruiting class. The Cougars run what is essentially a 3-5-3 defense, as Armitage and Jacob Johnson are both usually down/near the box. Johnson received All-League mention as a DB last season.
Adding depth at backer are three juniors, Dexter Morton, Jared Costa and Jared Gearhart. All three should see time this season, gaining valuable experience along the way.
The list of All-League returners grows in the defensive backfield, as Danny Leatherwood was a second team member last season for his play at cornerback. Look for Sean Morris to start at corner opposite Leatherwood, and also see time as a return man.
At free safety the Cougars have one of the top 2016 DB’s in the state in Zach Smith. He played as a freshman for the Cougars, but missed most of last season with a shoulder injury. He is healthy again, and should play a big part.
The Bottom Line: The Cougars have played three 4A classification schools the past two seasons, along with a tough Evergreen Conference schedule, so the transition to 3A should be rather smooth. They have the playmakers, and with steady line play could really make a solid run into the playoffs, and possibly contend for a league title.
vs. Lincoln 9/19
vs. Central Kitsap 10/3
@ Wilson 10/10