Before any big game one has to look at the Warriors who will take the battle on the field. In an ultimate game of chess we can only try to determine an outcome by matching up man for man to see if there might be an advantage however slight.
Looking at the "Big Game" as it is now being tabbed where #18 Lakes Lancers (Lakewood, WA) in the Rivals.com Top 100 will host the #16 Bellevue (Bellevue, WA) Wolverines we see a tale of two very evenly matched teams. While one could argue that Lakes has the deeper star power multiple State titles and a string of recent wins give the Bellevue squad the edge.
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To us this game is going to hinge on not only the stars but the unsung heroes. Someone is going to make a big play and when they do the game will swing in the balance. It might be someone like Ari Morales, the Junior gifted athlete for the Wolverines who has cat-like quickness and a nose for the ball.
But it might be a guy like Bo Wittig the gifted Lakes Kicker who can put a high percentage into the end zone and who has been consistent all year and a top regional football talent. Pinning the Wolverines in their own end of the field could loom large for the Lancers.
Whatever happens let's look a little at these stars and how they stack up!
Cedric Dozier; 5'11", 175 Pound Senior; Lakes #7
Dozier is not only an Army All American who will play and likely start for the West Squad in January he is a Cal Beat commit and one of the top athletes on the West Coast.
A consummate leaper he can do it all and has terrific top end speed. We always get the sense he is near an explosion or big play and his quick twitch and ability to shift direction made him one of the only two way stars at the Opening at Nike this year.
Cedric will be a corner, slot, tailback, and may take some reps at QB where he can start and dictate the flow of the game if the weather demands it.
The Southern boy who came to Washington when he was 13 to live with cousins when things at home were not all that great was adopted by the Lakes community and been a part of starting the Family Over Everything concept they are thriving on.
Tyler Hasty, 5'11" 180 Pound Senior; Bellevue #1
Hasty is a legit D-1 athlete with good speed and excellent overall athleticism. But it is his unwillingness to go down in a fight and the innate ability to win that make him special.
This season alone he has made big play after big play to shut out opponents and to get the job done period. In the Wing T which Bellevue really does run better then anyone he is the wheel man allowing all around him to shine. He is a born runner with a good enough arm and great vision.
But DEFENSE is where this guy shines. He is a hitter and a ball hawk and Lakes has not seen anyone with someone of his ability in the secondary. He is a nice counter to Cedric and has many of the same characteristics.
Colorado has firmly offered this PAC-12 Caliber athlete and a host of others continue to court him.
ZACH BANNER, 6'9.25" and 320 pounds Senior Lakes: #12
Now you know how there is always that "One-Guy" that everyone has in their data back who is bigger then the guy your trying to brag on? Well this guy trumps all those guys. He is legitimately over 6'9" and at 320 pounds he is bigger then anyone on a current NFL roster that we could find record of.
But big Zach is so much more then Big. The Army All American is over 50 offers and has 15 or 20 schools that have promised to let him play hoops too. Something he made certain people understood he needed to have a shot at. Ok so he is big. But he is also very very mobile and as a tackle he is every coaches dream. His 7' plus wingspan is text book weak side tackle and he can block. The thing you will see is that he has good hips and can bend and he runs up the field. His mere presence flying up the field give backs and guys like Cedric a Mountain to work around.
SURPRISE STRENGTH: Watch for Zach in this game to play both ways and put tremendous pressure on the Bellevue Line of Scrimmage where he gets good push and can break down the wing-t running lanes.
But gosh whatever you do get a chance to see him up close. He really is a special guy who will no doubt be an impact in college and we are certain far beyond that.
Jake has added 2 full inches and 30 pounds since last season and has mammoth proportions. He had a terrific off season and made the rounds through the camps and clinics. So dominating are his blocks that he did not need to do to much for coaches to see what he brings to the table.
He is big, nasty, and makes technically superior blocks for a High School linemen. While Jake does play both ways and is a great D'linemen he sure seems destined for the O'line.
Brown and Yale Have Both Offered him as have Oregon State and Utah. And he just got a really nice offer from Purdue which he seems interested in. This is one guy you better not let get his hands on you. He makes a really nice counter to Banner and we look for a battle between those two.
Zaheer Webb; 6'3", 320 Pounds; Lakes Senior #73
This big man is a tough customer and considered the #1 DT / Nose in the State. He is known by those close to him as the "Immovable Object" as he plays very low to the ground and at that size and strength your going to have a hard time moving him.
Webb also plays OL and is a lot quicker on his feet then people think. He will be called upon a significant amount of time Friday and him getting a push off the D'line and plugging those A Gaps is going to be one of the Keys to Success in this game.
Colorado has offered him and he made a pretty solid verbal commit to them a month or so ago. Watch the big fellah work his magic in this game.
Michael Kneip; 6'5", 294 Pounds; Senior Bellevue #65
Well this guy is Bellevue's counter to Webb. He plays a very similar style and is a gifted two way athlete. He too has a list of schools that have looked at him and are close.
As of right now he is sitting on a solid offer from Yale; somewhere the gifted student athlete is looking to move on and play at. The last time we spoke to him their was a host of other schools looking hard at him.
If anything he was lost in the shuffle of almost a dozen linemen in Washington who have major college offers in Washington but none the less he is a legitimate player. He has above average strength and is a punishing blocker like Eldrenkamp. One of the things that fuels the Bellevue machine is offensive Line play at its finest. Watch his feet and body mechanics and see him make some huge plays this week.
Levonte Littlejohn; 5'11", 185 Pounds; RB/Db
Lakes Senior #28
The power out of the Lakes backfield starts with this guy. A 2,000 yard plus rusher from the 2010 season he is a gifted guy. He missed a few games earlier in the year but has come back strong with big performance after big performance including a great effort last week against a determined Mountain View squad who gave Lakes their toughest test all year. He had almost 200 yards and 4 TD's in the 28-0 win.
Littlejohn has decent speed but exceptional vision and power. He does a great job of running his legs and playing to the whistle and generates power from the hips which you want to see with a back like this.
No doubt a collegiate level talent at back he is also a gifted defensive secondary player. He is hearing from a host of schools.
Myles Jack, 6'2", 215 Pound RB/LB Bellevue Jr. #21
Maybe the biggest transfer of the year around the West Coast is Myles Jack. Now this may seem hard to believe but this massive running back was said by one staff member to be the 2nd fastest kid on the team. Running out of the backfield Jack is smooth and powerful at the same time.
He just transferred from Suwanee, Georgia within the past 5 or 6 weeks and has already made some noise with some multi-td games and a great looking effort on defense. But he was a Wolverine last year before moving with his family. Now he is back and with force.
This game will have no doubt major eyeballs on it and the opportunity for Jack to jump out onto the National stage is significant. Could he be a game changer? Yes. He will have a host of Lancer watching him and is one majorweapon.
Given his size and the fact that he is a Junior we will be watching him on defense as much as offense as that is where he probably fits best at the next level. Still under the radar he is on the verge if his coming out party!
Ma'ne Manaea, 5'11", 185 Pounds, RB/WR/DB/ST Lakes #14
Rising Star. Period. If there is a big play on the field look for the flowing traditional Polyy hair of Ma'Ne Manaea who brings a smile to everyone he meets off the field but never trades that for a toughness on.
Ma'ne can play from the tailback spot, the slot, WR, and is a very gifted kick and punt return man.
But when he is in his Safety position you will see him fly to the ball every play. If it is around he is going to be there near it. He has terrific closing speed and can really hit.
He is also a ball-hawk and is a pic six threat anytime he touches the ball on defense. A string of schools have sent the show stopper recruiting love and he decided last month to lock it in and commit to the Colorado Buffaloes who made his Pac 12 dreams come true by offering him.
Michael Carlson; QB/DB 6'2", 190 Pound Junior Bellevue #2
What we know about this young man is that he is a rising star and is counted on to make big plays and does. One staff member told us this is a top talent who will rise as the balance of the season comes and that getting to college is in his future.
We like his size and he has good speed and great mobility based upon the film we have watched.
This is a guy that can do a lot of great things to help Bellevue in a big game like this and we are excited to see him play.
Pennoy Pendleton, LB/RB 5'11", 195 Pounds Senior Lakes #32
Penoy is another gifted athlete and a real big asset to the team especially on defense where he leads the team in tackles. He is someone that was in on every play when we saw the Lancers play earlier in the season.
This is another one of those difference maker sort of guys that can turn the course of the game. For both teams guys like this who are collegiate level talent but who are living in the shadow of these top recruits are ready made game changers.
Penoy is a hard worker and plays an agressive brand of football. Watch for #32 during the broadcast tomorrow.
Reuben Mwehla; 5'11", 185 Pounds, Junior for Bellevue #4
Reuben is a very special kid. Intense. A superb athlete and a very focused hard worker. Just the sort of kid you need to win Championships.
He plays DB and WR for the team and is one of the young guys on this team who is going to be a hot prospect potentially in the offseason.
He has a nice combination of speed and explosiveness and has that cat-like quickness of Hasty and Dozier you want to see out there.
He will be one to watch Friday and into the near future as well.
Charles Hall Junior, 5'11", 195 Pounds, RB/DB Lakes #27
Charles is a transfer this year from down in the South where he was a very successful football player. One look at his YouTube footage will have you in awe.
Rarely have we watched film like this where the hitting is so explosive and done with such abandon. Charles has strength and the ability to generate some real strength form his hips.
You hear a loud pop on the field you will likely see #27 getting up off the pile.
This guy has been a really nice addition to the squad and paired in tandem or in rotation with Littlejohn he gives the Lancers a fresh body who can start for any college team in the country potentially.
The only thing that seems to be holding back a bevy of top schools recruiting him is his top end speed which may be lacking a little although on the field you would not be able to argue that. Make no mistake he is a big time talent.
Joey Moore, 5'11", 195 Pounds, RB/DB Senior Bellevue #8
Joey is a really similar athlete to Charles Hall. He is a powerhouse back out of the Wing-T attack that has made the Wolverines famous.
He has a great skill set and a muscular durable frame. Joey is capable of moving on to play at the collegiate level and has a great motor.
Cal, UCLA, Washington, and Washington State have expressed interest in Moore.
#4 Quinton Parker 6'2" 175 Pound Wr
Several really great wide receivers for Lakes and Parker is the Senior in the bunch. He has excellent speed and hands.
One of the things that we like are his hands and the way he quickly adjust his routes to get open. One several occasions he did a great job of making adjustments of getting back to the ball and making plays where none appeared to be possible.
Sammie Long, 6'4", 190 Pound Junior
#1 for Lakes is Sammie Long. He is 6'4" and a really sleek athlete who has both a muscular frame and quick feet.
Long does a great job of stretching defenders out and making plays happen. In any sort of 1-1 coverage he can beat most defenders and is a great leaper.
Colleges have certainly paid attention and he has many many letters pouring in.
He was recently given a verbal offer from the U of W Huskies who are planning to keep this Lancer right here in Seattle and he seems pretty hot on that idea for now.
Marquin Russell, #2 Lakes 6'1", 175 Pounds Wr-DB Junior
Marquin is one of 3 or 4 players who have moved to Lakewood from the south and boy can this guy run. It is not clear if anyone knows for sure but he seems to be tracking right at a legit 4.4 time and that should be proven out this year.
He has excellent size and is also gifted in terms of his route running and his hands. Watch for him as well on special teams and in short yardage situations.
David Wood, 6'3", 225 Pounds QB-LB Senior #16
Despite all the other names on either team you have to appreciate this Senior and what he has done in his first year as a starter. He has learned his role, kept his head on straight and not made a lot of mistakes.
He has thrown for 1903 yards, a 60% completion ration, 27 TD's and only 3 pics. His QB rating is 132 and that is really very good. The big man has also run for 350 yards and 6 more TD's.
David as a leader will be tested in the biggest game of his life and his ability to remain calm and "play Lake's football" as they say is going to be a major theme of this game. If Lake's is going to win he has to do just that!
A great looking QB overall that should be able to find a home.
JJ Njoku, 5'10", 185 Pounds, Senior #24 Lakes
JJ is a special talent and a young man who has overcome loos of some really close family in recent years but found his team and purpose on the field. He is a joy to be around and a great kid.
He is also a great defender and WR so watch for him to be one of those difference makers on Friday
John Nguyen #9, Junior RB/LB for Bellevue 5'9", 180 pounds
John is a very hard runner and perfect for the WIng T.
He plays with determination and has excellent vision and ability to come off blocks and cut inside or outside with a quick step.
Very good looking Junior prospect who could be a big play maker for the Wolverines in this one.
Ari Morales, #25 5'9", 160 Pounds, Junior Bellevue RB/DB
Like Nguyen Ari will be a player to watch. He has made some big plays all year and has great athletic ability on both sides of the ball.
We like Ari either side but are very excited to see him on the defensive side of the ball where his toughness and overall skill and ability to move in space are showcased.
Difference Maker Alert
Sean Constantine; 6'3", 220 Pounds, Bellevue Junior #6
Sean is big, fast and aggressive. He plays ahead of his age and is already on his way to the Pac 12.
The Huskies have offered the explosive student athlete and if he continues to progress he can gain additional offers.
He will be called upon to take the lead in this one and showcase those skills and prove to coaches and scouts alike that he can get the job done.
Nick Santa, 6'3", 230 pounds, Junior #72, OL/DE
This is a guy to keep your eyes on. He was just invited to the Army All American Combine and is a rising star in terms of Coaches and college programs who have been watching him this year.
He has great feet, great explosiveness as a Defensive End, and a real nose for the ball. He can do some great things with the football out of a TE spot as well.
If he continues to train and can add maybe 15 to 20 pounds in the next year he may have all the parts he needs to become a blue chop prospect.
Young Guns To Watch
Bishard "Budda" Baker, Sophomore, 5'10", 170 RB/DB
Ok so call him Budda. Needed to get that out of the way. The word is he is D-1 fast. Period. And the rest of his skill set goes with it.
People around the program say this is the most talented guy that they have seen coming through for his grade level in a long long time.
Reports have U of W on the verge of making him and offer to play for them. Of course it can only be verbal and he is really young.
But for the fun of it lets all watch and see how he does against a Nationally ranked opponent and how his composure is. One of many young stars for Bellevue you can see the Wolverines are nothing but talented and have no concerns for the future.
Benning Potoae; 6'3", 260 Pounds, Freshemen, #43
This is the most talented underclassmen on the West Coast. There. I said it. Now someone prove me wrong.
The Army All American watch list is coming out for the Class of 2015 and I bet he is on it. Especially being the brother of Army All American and current Washington Husky Sione Potoae.
Benning has been starting all year as a defensive linemen and handling his business nicely. He attacks and finds the football and has great lateral movement and natural strength.
He is already a Pac 12 athlete in the making and odds are the Dawgs have him dialed in as much as they can. Of course he has some things to work on but my god what a talent for such a young guy.
Let's see what he does tomorrow!
That is our look at just some of the talent on the field this Friday! Man that is a load of guys who are going to battle and so many highly ranked collegiate prospects.
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