- Mason Kelley, Reporter, Recruiting Nation
With the summer swelter finally in full swing across the state, high school football practices are set to start Wednesday.
Bellevue (Wash.) Bellevue opens the year looking to claim its fifth straight Class 3A state championship -- the Wolverines have won nine of the last 11 -- and boasts as much speed and athleticism as the program has ever seen.
The Wolverines spent the summer working toward their Week 1 matchup against Euless (Texas) Trinity. The Texas power travels to Seattle Memorial Stadium, Aug. 30.
As dominant as Bellevue has been at the 3A level, Sammamish (Wash.) Skyline has controlled 4A, playing in four straight state title games, winning three. The Spartans are led by the state’s top prospect in four-star quarterback Max Browne.
The USC commit will try to lead his team to a second straight state title. The Spartans will be tested early and travel to play Murray (Utah) Cottonwood, Sept. 7.
Here is a look at a few things to follow in 2012:
2013 HOMETOWN HUSKIES
Linebacker Sean Constantine -- 6-3, 225
The hard-hitting, athletic linebacker is the leader of Bellevue’s defense. Wolverines coach Butch Goncharoff said that, while every player loves Friday night lights, Constantine “loves to play Monday through Thursday, too.”
Defensive end Daeshon Hall -- 6-6, 230
Lancaster, Texas is a long way from Seattle, but Hall is very much a local product. The athletic defensive end with good footwork found on the basketball floor spent his first two high school seasons at Seattle (Wash.) Garfield before moving to Texas. He might be back for his senior season.
Kicker Cameron Van Winkle -- 5-11, 165
Snoqualmie, Wash./Mount Si
The kid can kick a football. As a junior he drilled a 49-yard field goal and made six that were from 42 yards or longer. With 29 field goals in 33 games, he is already No. 2 on the state’s all-time career list.
Defensive tackle Andrew Basham -- 6-4, 305
When asked to break down Basham’s ability, Lynnwood coach Adam Fermstad summed up the defensive tackle simply, “For his size, his speed is just insane.”
Receiver Sammie Long -- 6-2, 190
Every year Lakes seems to send top talent to the Division I level. Long is the latest in the Lancers’ long line of standout football recruits. Long’s last name is fitting, considering his lanky frame and wide wingspan. He should have a strong senior season catching passes from quarterback Rhys Gervais.
Defensive tackle Jaimie Bryant -- 6-5, 261
The Huskies have mined a small-school talent out of Tumwater. With long arms and good size, Bryant has the tools to be a talented tackle at the Division I level. He learned as a junior what it’s like to face frequent double teams and that won’t change this season.
Safety Bishard “Budda” Baker -- 5-10, 165
The Wolverines’ coaching staff has been pointing to Baker as a star in the making for several seasons. He is fast, has very good instincts and finds ways to make plays. The 2014 prospect is already piling up offers.
Running back Chico McClatcher – 5-7, 165
Federal Way, Wash./Federal Way
McClatcher proved he could play as a freshman last season. Then at Washington’s Rising Stars Camp he was clocked between a 4.41 and 4.42 in the 40-yard dash and his coaches praise his football instincts. The 2015 recruit is already drawing some serious interest from college coaches.
TWO WEEK 1 GAMES TO WATCH
Euless (Texas) Trinity vs. Bellevue (Wash.) Bellevue -- Aug. 30 (Seattle Memorial Stadium
Texas teams don’t travel. They certainly don’t make the trek up to the Northwest. So this game is special. Bellevue has established itself as a powerful program, but is 0-1 against Texas teams, falling to Katy (Texas) Katy 35-17 on the road in 2009.
Bothell (Wash.) Bothell vs. Sammamish (Wash.) Skyline – Aug. 31 (Skyline High School)
With a talented quarterback in sophomore Ross Bowers, a bruising running back in BYU commit Darrin Laufasa and complementary pieces throughout the roster, Bothell has the talent to play with Skyline. The Spartans have had so much success in recent years, they enter every season with a target on their backs.
TEAMS TO WATCH
The usual suspects -- Skyline and Bellevue -- have been covered, so here are three other teams to watch:
With Notre Dame commit Danny Mattingly leading the Panthers, Mead is a legitimate state-title contender in 2012.
One of the state’s premier programs, Bothell coach Tom Bainter fields a competitive team every year. The Cougars open the season against Bellevue and Skyline and will quickly find out how they stack up against the state’s top teams.