Six months ago, Woodinville’s epic bid for a State title fell short on the Tacoma Dome turf.
Last week, the boys were back out on the field for spring camp.
Many key players from last year have graduated. These include names like Nash Fouch, Cade Beresford, Jake Baillie, Noah Taplett, Jared Eisenbarth and Brett Accimus.
Of course, the most glaring absence is quarterback Jaden Sheffey, who signed with George Fox University.
“Losing Jaden, the calm and cool leader,” Woodinville coach Wayne Maxwell said. “He did an outstanding job running our offense. No question we will lose the comfort of having that guy running the show there. We knew with Jaden what we were going to get for the past two years. That he’d get us into the right calls and right plays.”
Noah Stifle now has a firm grip on the starting role at QB. Standing at 5’11”, the junior has grown a couple inches taller since last fall.
“We’ve got Noah and Jake Johnson in that quarterback pile,” Maxwell said. “They’re in there getting their reps and showing what they’ve got. We’re excited. Noah is a good athlete. It will present some issues to defenses, and we’re excited what he can do.”
Stifle smiled when asked of his ascension up the depth chart.
“I love it,” Stifle said. “I like being able to be a big part of this team and this offense. I want to make it successful. I’m doing everything in my power to make it successful.”
With running backs Brett Accimus and Matt Jones graduating, two new faces will be the workhorses this fall.
“Joey Johnson and Nolan Downs have been rotating and splitting time,” Maxwell said. “Both guys are good athletes. Nolan has athletic ability. He got time last year in some of our nickel packages on defense and did some nice things for us. He’s a good athlete in space and so he’ll be able to do some things.
“Joey is somewhat like how Matt Jones was last year,” Maxwell said. “By frame he’s a bit shorter but strong and stout. Runs very tough between the tackles. Just a tough, tough kid. Really excited to see what he can do.”
Meanwhile on the offensive line, the big uglies up front just got a bit better.
Levi Rogers is a 6’5” 270 pound behemoth from Boston. He and his family recently moved to Woodinville. Maxwell and offensive line coach Mike Monan can’t help but smile when discussing their surprise new prospect.
“Coach Monan has a new present coming in,” Maxwell said. “We’re excited to have him. Levi is a good kid. Our guys have embraced him, just like they would any new kid. You put the pads on him and you can easily mistake him for [former Falcon] Duke Clinch wearing that number fifty-seven. And we’ve had a number of good fifty-sevens come through here. Duke Clinch, Sawyer Whalen and Cade Beresford.
“Guys like Will Augustine and Nathan Metz have done a nice job welcoming Levi into the O-line brotherhood,” Maxwell said.
“Levi is a beast,” Noah Stifle added. “He came in right away and made a big impact. He upped the intensity for the o-line and gave the d-line a great look too on scout team. He’s bonding well with everyone and it’s good to have him.”
One thing that won’t be a surprise this fall is Cage Schenck. The diminutive cornerback was tested repeatedly last season by opposing QBs. But Woodinville’s most athletic player came up big time under pressure. His future is bright. Look for him on both sides of the ball, in a Darren Sproles type of role on offense.
“It’s not secret with Cage anymore,” Maxwell said. “He made people pay last year. He had a fine season in his sophomore year playing corner. It was highlighted against Graham–Kapowsin [in the playoffs]. Having an interception against [UW commit] Dylan Morris.
“And we’ve all seen what Cage can do,” Maxwell said. “With graduation and losing playmakers, it’s now his chance to show what he can do with the ball, and in the return game.”
On the other side of the ball, the newest incarnation of the Dark Side Defense will soon be unveiled.
“There’s some really good things coming together on defense,” Maxwell said. “Led by the heart of the defense -- the M&M Boys – Mustarde and Metsger. [linebackers Miles Mustarde and Danny Metsger]. They’re two peas in a pod. They have good energy. You saw them out there in practice. They practice as hard as they can but they are dancing and enjoying themselves. They’ve played a lot of good football. They’re smart football players. Bring a lot of experience to the table. They’re definitely the leaders in the weight room and out here on the field as well.”
Maxwell cited Dylan Lewis and Eric Kim as stalwarts up the middle at defensive tackle. Kim has reportedly torn up the weight room in the offseason.
In the secondary, Cage Schenck will man one side at cornerback, and his counterpart will be Blake Glessner.
“I was giving Cage a hard time earlier,” Maxwell said. “We keep track of PBUs [pass break ups] and interceptions so far. In spring, ball, Blake is beating Schenck by 3 PBUs/Pics. So it’s a fun and friendly competition between those guys.”
Woodinville opens its season on August 31st at Pop Keeney Stadium versus Foster.