Editor’s Note: With this post, Josh Magill kicks off his new feature in the Mountain News-WA, covering BSD sports in-depth. Today, Josh examines the football fortunes of Bethel High and Spanaway Lake High Schools.
by Josh Magill
The gridiron rivalry of local high schools – Bethel and Spanaway Lake – churns back into action on Friday afternoon in Spanaway. Last season, Bethel crushed Spanaway Lake by a score of 59-14.
Bethel finished last season second in the South Puget Sound League with an 8-3 record and a postseason appearance, but was knocked out in the Division 4-A first round competition.
In his eighth year as head coach of the Braves and possessing a 44-28 overall record, Coach Gavin Kralik says his team is “much bigger and stronger on both the offensive and defensive lines than any Bethel team in the last eight years.”
Key losses for the squad are former quarterback Justin Hordyk, who signed with New Mexico Highlands, and defensive lineman Joel Ragazzo, who signed with Army. In 2011, Bethel scored a league record 451 points, but in 2012 they will have to slow down the pace if they hope to once again enter the playoffs.
Kralik makes the point that “seniors Connor Reopelle (QB) and Schuyler Witt (DL) have huge shoes to fill in replacing those [graduated] All-Area players.”
Returning kicker, Ryan Smolko, will continue to be an asset for the team by also starting at the wide receiver position. Smolko was named 1st team SPSL in 2011 and holds the SPSL record for most kicking points in a single season.
Kralik says a big story will be to see how senior defensive back John Thompson responds after being named the SPSL South DB of the Year in 2011. Thompson, already with a college offer from the University of Idaho, also plays at the running back position for the Braves.
After the hard-hitting loss is last season’s game, the Sentinels are looking to redeem themselves and hope the graduation of rusher Marcus Thomas won’t hinder that effort. Thomas ended his final season with 61 yards and six touchdowns. Senior Kyle Pickering will now start in the back field.
Long-time Spanaway Lake head coach, John Robak, returns six starters on offense, but has a tough job rebuilding a team that won just a single game last season. Enduring some devastating losses by large margins, the squad finished ninth in the SPSL with an overall record of 1-9.
A bright spot and the key to the success for the Sentinels is junior quarterback Joe Martin. He is a dual-threat that can run well with the ball, but must keep the turnovers low in 2012. Throwing 11 interceptions last season, Martin was never able to show a good passing game to opponents.
The showdown begins at 5 pm on Friday at Art Crate Stadium, located next to Bethel High School, just north of 224th Street E.
© 2012 Josh Magill