Sports

KingCo champs gear up for new season

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The 1998 KingCo 3A football champs are alive and well, despite

losing a large number of key players to graduation. The team that

went 8-2 last year has some rebuilding to do, but with a JV squad

that went 7-0 and a "C" team that went 7-1, the

rebuilding part should come easier than most expect.

The big question for this year is where the `Cats will end up,

with only four returning players offensively and four

defensively.

"We could do one of two different things depending on how

we progress," says head coach Charlie Kinnune, who possesses

an overall record of 37-27.

"Our Junior class is going to decide where we are at. If

they progress and improve every week, then we could very well be

in the hunt at the end. If we can pull an upset in our first two

games and win our next two games and be three and one, then I

think we will be all right.

"If our juniors don't progress and don't get better and

don't make plays, then we are in for what could be a long

season," he adds.

Another big question for all of KingCo is where the teams

stand. Will one team dominate, or is there a level of parity?

"I think anyone with two or three losses may very well be

in the hunt this year, since there is so much parity in our

league," says Kinnune. "I don't think there will be

anybody that will run the league this year ... anyone with two or

three losses in the last week has a shot."

"Sammamish has nine returning players. Skyline has

everybody back except their running back. They are still

dominated by juniors, so they have a chance to do some great

things."

"I think Mercer Island and Bellevue will always be in the

mix because they are coached well, have good athletes and have

smart athletes," Kinnune continues. "I think they will

always be at the top of the league. Newport is going to be better

this year."

"Really, there are four of five teams that could win the

darn thing this year. The teams that are down will be Liberty,

Interlake and Cedarcrest, since they lost a lot off of their

teams, but I did hear their numbers are up."

In years past, standouts like Chris Riley, Justin Odom, David

Weller and Aaron Binger provided key talent. For the upcoming

season, coach Kinnune has to look to a new set of faces to make

an impact.

"Dan Thompson (6'0", 162 lbs., Sr.) is a key to both

our offense and defense," says the coach. "Sean Sexton

(5'11", 237 lbs., Sr.) is also a key. They are two good

football players and experienced. Even though Sean is an

offensive guard, he is the catalyst for the offense.

"David Cole (5'9", 198 lbs., Sr.) has certainly been

a good leader for us and will play both sides of the ball. Brad

Connor ( 6'2", 282 lbs., Jr.) will also do good things for

us in the line positions."

Mount Si has had a well balanced attack in past years, with

both a running game in Binger and a passing game with Riley. With

this year being one of rebuilding, will the balanced attack still

be there, and who will the play makers be for offense?

"A lot of people classify us as a passing team, but in

reality we have a balanced attack," Kinnune responds.

"I don't know if we will be quite as balanced. We are going

to have to run the ball to win, and to win we will have to run

the ball. But, there are going to be times that we won't even

resemble last year's team."

Offensively, the team will look to Cole to step up and play

both running back and full back. Mike Dollinter (5'11", 177

lbs., Jr.) has had a good couple of weeks at running back and has

shown promise. Shaun Maurer (5'11", 223 lbs. Soph.) will

play fullback and defense, while Austin Bachelder (5'11",

186 lbs., Jr.) will also be in the mix at running back.

"Shaun is a very strong gutsy kid and will play both

sides of the ball for us" says Kinnune.

"Until someone separates himself from the pack as being

much better than the rest, it could be running back by committee.

We have solid kids that are unproven, so we are going to see who

proves himself in game situations."

Leading the offense a good part of the year will be John Odom

(6'0", 148 lbs., Jr.) playing quarterback. Returning to the

offense will be Brandon Prior (5'8", 225 lbs., Sr.) at

center, Sexton, Connor and John Felt (5'10", 212 lbs., Sr.)

at tackle.

Defensively the team expects solid performances from its core

of juniors. The defensive front is made up of four underclassmen,

including Steve Botulinski (6'3", 213 lbs., Jr.), who will

start at defensive end. At the other end will be Adam McKenzie

(6'4", 204 lbs., Jr.), who didn't start last year but played

often.

Also playing defense are Connor, Nick Kehoe (6'0", 259

lbs., Jr.) Geoff Hise (6'3", 239 lbs., Jr.), Maurer and Todd

Backlin (6'0", 173 lbs., Jr.) who will play at middle

backer.

There are others that Kinnune is expecting big things out of.

"Tyler Osborn (5'8", 142 lbs., Jr.,), Eddie Horstman

(6'1", 162 lbs., Jr.) and C.J. Stanford ( 6'0", 170

lbs., Jr.) are all juniors that have to perform and come to

play," the coach says.

"Bret Bergstrom (6'1", 161 lbs.) is a sophomore who

is going to play wide receiver, defensive back and kicker for us.

Jeff Stone (5'6", 141 lbs., Sr.) and Hiram Tame (5'11",

152 lbs., Sr.) are defensive backs. So there are tall orders for

unproven people, but I believe they are going to come through and

that makes this an exciting year."

New to the staff this year is a former rival head coach,

Thomas Mosby. Mosby will be assisting the Wildcats as defensive

backs coach.

"I think he is having fun again," says Kinnune.

"I think Thomas is glad to be back in that position. He has

added a lot of great experience and a new enthusiasm."

Last year was the first time a Mount Si team went to the state

playoffs since 1982, and only the second time in school history.

The question on everyone's mind is whether the organization can

repeat.

"Keeping things in perspective this year will be

important," touts Kinnune. "Having long-range goals and

watching ourselves improve every week will be fundamental. We may

have to find some victories in our losses and celebrate in areas

that you won't necessarily see on the scoreboard.

"There are basic concepts that we call Wildcat

football," Kinnune concludes, "and that is play hard,

play smart, play fair, playing to win and keeping things in

perspective. If we do that, we will be successful no matter what

our record is."

Mount Si starts the season against league rival Mercer Island

on Sept. 9 at Mercer Island. Game time is 7 p.m. Their home

opener will be Sept. 17 at the Mount Si field against Skyline at

7:30 p.m.

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