In the stunning scenic Snoqualmie valley where kids swim, hike, fish and go four-wheeling, they also pound their way onto the gridiron to play varsity ball for Mount Si High head coach Charlie Kinnune.
Last season, the Wildcats stoked the community’s football fire by notching a 10-2 overall record — including a 4-1 league mark to earn the 4A KingCo Crest title — and romping through to the state quarterfinals.
“We have a level of excitement every year in this community. We’re unique in that we’re the only show in town. We’re a single high school in a single district,” said Kinnune as he watched the Wildcats’ inaugural 2019 practice behind his shaded glasses on Aug. 21.
Sitting on a bench near the field, Kinnune cracks a smile as he points toward starting junior quarterback Clay Millen (6-3, 190), who inherits the job from his older brother and last year’s star Cale, who is now part of the University of Oregon program.
Kinnune adds that in a starting role, Clay hasn’t lost a game in a long time, dating back to his youth football days with a host of the current Wildcats.
“The expectation of winning is there, they’re not afraid to work. When your best players are your hardest workers, like Clay, you’ve got a great opportunity for a successful season,” Kinnune said.
The Wildcat receiving corps set to haul in Clay’s passes consist of seniors Colby Botten (5-10, 172) and Brayden Holt (6-1, 160) and juniors Zach Soliday (5-11, 165) and Kevin Corder (6-0, 170).
Crucial players on the offensive and defensive lines are senior Gale Kamp (6-0, 220) and juniors Daniel Harrison (5-11, 185) and Caleb Dalgleish (6-0, 205).
With just 11 seniors on board — Mount Si fielded just 12 last year and won big — Kinnune feels the Wildcats can reap success once again. It won’t be easy, though.
“Three of our first four opponents are ranked in the top 10, so we have a serious schedule. We might get tripped up early on, but I just think steel sharpens steel,” the coach said. “We’ve always had a tough schedule, just playing our neighbors is tough. I don’t need to drive across state or take the team to Utah or anything like that to find a good opponent — we have good opponents right down the road. We can do that and sleep in our own bed.”
This season, Mount Si will be relying heavily on players who competed on the freshman and junior varsity levels last year, Kinnune said.
“You find out a lot about your program the year after a really good year, because you find out whether you’re developing kids,” he added. “So now, it’s just our hope that our preparation, our offseason work in the weight room and all of that is developing our kids, and we think it is.”
MOUNT SI Schedule
Sept. 6 at Wenatchee, 7 p.m. (Apple Bowl)
Sept. 13 home vs. Kentwood, 7 p.m.
Sept. 20 home vs. Skyview, 7 p.m.
Sept. 28 at Woodinville, 7 p.m. (Pop Keeney Stadium)
Oct. 4 at Eastlake, 7 p.m.
Oct. 11 home vs. Issaquah, 7 p.m.
Oct. 18 home vs. Skyline, 7 p.m.
Oct. 25 at Newport, 7 p.m.