Five Key Players
OL/DL Josh Watson (6’5, 265,’16) – Watson emerged as a star last fall and earned scholarship offers from several schools before he committed to Washington State earlier this summer. The talented senior will play both ways and he’s seen as one of the leaders of the program.
OL/DL Matt Straughn (6’1, 290, ‘16) – Straughn is a solid two-way starter for the Bruins. He’s got plenty of experience and he brings a nasty attitude to the table when he’s on the field.
LB/RB Andrey Nefedov (5’11, 200, ‘16) – Nefedov is the captain of the defense. He’s smart, strong and he loves to hit.
DB/RB Andrew Sibley (5’11, 200, ‘16) – Sibley is a two-way star for Cascade. Expect the coaches to give him plenty of chances to make plays on offense and for him to be a leader in the secondary.
DB/Slot Devon Kleiner (5’11”, 215, ‘18) – Kleiner is a multi-purpose athlete who will run some ‘wildcat quarterback’ for the Bruins this season, but he’ll mainly be out of the slot and in the secondary where the coaches will do their best to put him into position to make plays.
With the hiring of former Mercer Island defensive coordinator Shane Keck, the Bruins are working on their third coach in less than three years. That being said, the ship seems to have been righted and Keck, along with solid coaching staff he’s assembled, has a lot of size and talent to work with.
“Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever been around this much size at the high school level,” Keck said. “We have some really good seniors, guys who have played a lot and this program has all of the resources necessary to be one of the best in the league. Now it’s up to (the new staff) to get us where we need to be and to develop some of these really talented younger guys we have in the program.”
Keck really likes what he has along the offensive and defensive lines this fall.
Starting up front are seniors Josh Watson (6’5, 265) at right tackle and Matt Straughn (6’1, 290) at right guard. Both are All-WESCO types and the Bruin running game should find plenty of room to operate on their side of the line.
Joining them will be two juniors on the left side — Andrew Raymond (6’5, 290) at tackle and Eric Billings (6’3, 285) — and senior Mike Klemz (5’9, 230) will be at center.
Senior Paul Dibble (6’0, 240), junior Daniel Albert (5’10, 240) and senior Evan Erbeck (5’8, 240) will round out the eight-man rotation that Keck and his staff hope to work with this fall.
Quarterback is still up for grabs heading into fall camp, but at this point, the most likely starter will be sophomore Brent Gilles, a 6’1, 170-pounder who Keck says has natural leadership abilities.
“The kids just want to be around him,” Keck noted. “He’s a really good baseball player, but I think he’ll be a really good quarterback. He’s smart and really steady and he’s a really good athlete.”
In the backfield with Gilles in the Bruins’ spread, up-tempo offense will be juniors Jake Elenbaas (5’7, 160) and John Gilbert (5’10, 170) who has outstanding top end speed.
Seniors Andrew Sibley (5’11, 200) and Andrey Nefedov (5’11, 200) will also see plenty of opportunities as ball-carriers.
The wideout group has seniors Austin Clark (6’0, 170) and Spencer Bowlden (6’0, 185) and Andrew Sanders (5’8, 170) mans the slot position as well.
While most spread teams don’t use the tight end much, Cascade has a player they feel pretty good about at the position– sophomore C.J. Wade (6-2, 220) — and he’s one they feel they can flex out at times or keep in tight, on the end of the line and let him block.
Defensively, the Bruins like to use their guys both ways, so most of the defensive line will feature guys who play along the offensive line.
Billings and Watson are stout defensive ends with the ability to hold up at the point of attack in Cascade’s 4-2-5 scheme.
Inside, Raymond and Albert will be the ones expected to clog the middle and, at times, get after the quarterback.
The linebackers are an athletic group led by Nefedov and he will be joined at different times by Wade, Sanders, Elenbaas and juniors Laith Al-Mansuri (5’11, 215) and Terrance Bloss (6’0, 175).
The secondary is deep and experienced with a lot of athletes, but the likely starters will be Gilbert and Clark at corner while Sibley, an All-Conference safety selection from last season, returns at one safety and he will be joined by Kleiner and Bowlden.
The Bottom Line: Keck takes over a program with some talent at key positions, especially along the offensive and defensive lines, but it’s a program that has been listless with all of the coaching changes. Keck will have the time necessary to mold this program into one that should regain its former luster, but it might take a year or two before he gets the results he’s really looking for. This year, the Bruins should be able to challenge for post-season play, but with Lake Stevens as loaded as they are, this probably isn’t the year that Cascade can expect to win the WESCO 4A.
Vs. Jackson (9/18)
@ Lake Stevens (10/2)
@ Kamiak (10/30)