Lynden at King’s
Time: 7 p.m.
Site: King’s High School
Lions update: No. 3-ranked Lynden enters the new season following a loss for the first time in three years. They should have plenty of motivation heading in and face a tough road test right off the bat against King’s. The Lions have beaten the Knights each of the past two seasons during the team’s season opener.
Knights update: No. 7-ranked King’s is coming off a strong season of its own. The Knights finished 9-3 and reached the Class 1A State Playoff quarterfinals before losing to eventual state champion Cascade Christian. Coach Jim Shapiro returns for his 19th season, and some key returners include quarterback Koa Wilkins, lineman Jack McCleod and tight end Duncan Cull.
Key to the game: Lynden’s new starters will have to acclimate quickly to a hostile road environment. If they do, the Lions should be in good shape.
Player to watch: Injuries knocked out basically Drew Krause’s entire junior season. It should be exciting to see what he can bring to the football field.
Prediction: Lynden 35-21
Mount Baker at Sedro-Woolley
Time: 7 p.m.
Site: Sedro-Woolley High School
Mountaineers update: No. 8 Mount Baker brings back a pretty talented group after reaching the Class 1A State Playoff quarterfinals last season. The Mountaineers begin their 2015 season seeking their fourth consecutive state berth, but they face a tall task playing the defending Class 2A state champs on their home turf.
Cubs update: Fresh off its first state title in program history, there’s plenty of buzz around the Sedro-Woolley football program. While the Cubs lost some key pieces, they utilized a ton of juniors during their state championship run. Expect Sedro-Woolley to again be one of the premier teams in Washington 2A football.
Key to the game: Sedro-Woolley last year was known for its running ability, but coach Dave Ward has said he is looking to pass more this season. Mount Baker’s secondary is completely remade, so the Mountaineers new faces in the back will have to play well.
Player to watch: Baker back Jed Schleimer is expected to have a big year, but he might not face a tougher defense all season than the Cubs’.
Prediction: Sedro-Woolley 30-10
Hoquiam at Meridian
Time: 7 p.m.
Site: Meridian High School
Grizzlies update: Hoquiam is coming off a Class 1A State Playoff berth in which they lost in the round of 16 to Cascade Christian, but the Grizzlies bring back a lot of talent from last season. Armed with talented junior quarterback, Gregory Dick, coach Rick Moore is working in a spread offense and is looking to throw the ball around this season.
Trojans update: Meridian is coming off a season in which it missed the state playoffs for the first time in a long while. The Trojans don’t have a lot of size this year, but they do have a lot of athletes. Expect big things from Marcus McGuinn and Nick Dritsas, as Meridian looks to get back to state.
Key to the game: Meridian’s defense will need to make Hoquiam work for its points. The Grizzlies believe they have big-play potential. Avoiding successful shot plays will be key for the Trojans.
Player to watch: Coach Bob Ames has talked about using Marcus McGuinn as a QB and as a receiver. Wherever he lines up, he’s sure to make an impact.
Prediction: Meridian 34-28
Lummi at Taholah
Time: 5 p.m.
Site: Ben Charley Sr. Field in Taholah
Blackhawks update: For No. 3-ranked Lummi, Neah Bay again was the obstacle between the Blackhawks and reaching their state title dreams. Lummi, although fewer bodies are out this year, has the talent to field another good football team. Jonathan Casimir is slated to take over at quarterback, and expect both Free and Raven Borsey to be big-time producers on both sides of the ball.
Chitwhins update: Taholah graduated its two best players from last season and are a team full of relatively young players. Junior quarterback Dylan James is the Chitwhins’ player to watch.
Key to the game: Lummi should have this one easily won, so it would be wise for the Blackhawks to get some of their lesser experienced players some quality varsity time.
Player to watch: It should be interesting to see how Casimir fares during his first start under center.
Prediction: Lummi 60-12
Bellingham at Squalicum
Time: 7 p.m.
Site: Civic Stadium
Red Raiders update: Bellingham enters its second year playing its independent schedule under the guidance of coach Ted Flint, who seems to be turning the football program in the right direction. The Red Raiders graduated a lot of seniors from its 5-5 season, but Flint is excited about his new group. Expect the Red Raiders to throw the ball more with sophomore QB Nick Knutson at the helm.
Storm update: No. 8-ranked Squalicum is coming off its best season in program history, making a postseason run all the way to the Class 2A State Playoff quarterfinals. And the good news for the Storm continues, as it returns a wealth of talent. They should have a great defense, but the biggest question mark is how well new quarterback Garrett Sorenson will play.
Key to the game: Certainly Bellingham will be anxious to show it can hang with top NWC competition, while the game for Squalicum will be a good opportunity for Nick Lucey to get a look at all his players.
Player to watch: Storm linebacker Jack Wendling put together a heck of a season last year. The junior could blossom into a star this year.
Prediction: Squalicum 45-14
Anacortes at Nooksack Valley
Time: 7 p.m.
Site: Nooksack Valley High School
Seahawks update: The Seahawks are coming off a rough 2-8 season in which they failed to win a conference game. To make matters worse, coach Craig Nurvic, entering his first year with the team, stepped down just before the team’s first practice. Anacortes might have another rough go this fall. Quarterback Camden McLaughlin and linebacker Zechariah Diemert are two to watch.
Pioneers update: Nooksack Valley graduated so many key players from its team last year that the team is left with a whole lot of young players with minimal experience. The Pioneers only have five seniors and only one has true varsity experience. Another factor working against the team is a very unfavorable schedule against some of the state’s best.
Key to the game: Coach Robb Myhre is using the team’s first few games to see which of his players will be key contributors this season. Strong quarterback play out of either Joe McNeely or Casey Bauman will help the Pioneers big time.
Player to watch: The Pioneers have high expectations for junior running back/linebacker Colten Kautz this season.
Prediction: Anacortes 21-20
New Westminster at Blaine
Time: 7 p.m.
Site: Blaine High School
Hyacks update: Not much is known about the Canadian New Westminster Hyacks. This will be the fourth straight year the Borderites have opened their season against a British Columbia school. Blaine is 3-0 in those games including a 50-16 win over New Westminster to open the 2012 season.
Borderites update: Blaine made great strides last season, finishing up strong with a near upset over state runner-up Lynden. The Borderites have a lot of talent at the skill positions, and coach Jay Dodd is excited to see how well new quarterback Jalen Kortlever performs. Armando Moser-Hernandez is the team’s only returning starting offensive lineman, but there are some up-and-coming talents.
Key to the game: A bright spotlight should be placed on how well Blaine’s offensive line unit can mesh in their first game starting together. Riley Fritsch is a talented back, so his presence will help.
Player to watch: Shaq Woods is an intriguing prospect at 6-foot-6, 330 pounds. He didn’t play last year, so it should be fun to see exactly what he can do.
Prediction: Blaine 48-17
Mount Vernon at Burlington-Edison
Time: 7 p.m.
Site: Burlington-Edison High School
Bulldogs update: Mount Vernon struggled a season ago, finishing 3-7. The Bulldogs did win three of their last four. Mount Vernon also opened last year against Burlington-Edison in the team’s annual rivalry matchup, losing 38-6.
Tigers update: Burlington-Edison was one of four Northwest Conference schools to reach the Class 2A State Playoff quarterfinals a season ago, and they could be good again this year. The Tigers return five starters on offense, six on defense and have some very athletic skill players such as Derek Cherryholmes, Tavian Swanson and Curtis Carlson.
Key to the game: Will Mount Vernon be able to put the brakes on Burlington-Edison’s many skilled athletes? If they can, they might have a chance to hang.
Player to watch: Tavian Swanson is explosive. Look for him to make a big impact.
Prediction: Burlington-Edison 31-7