SVSJ preview: Cedarcrest football looks for success, but could season be clouded by more controversy?

EDITOR’S NOTE: We continue our previews today with a look at Cedarcrest High School’s football team as it looks to move past a controversial 2016 season, one that was that way through no fault of their own.

Cedarcrest High School’s football program, along with the rest of the Cascade Conference, became the subject of national headlines last season after many of the conference’s schools forfeited games against league rival Archbishop Murphy over competitive balance concerns. CHS will look this season to get past last year’s distractions and make it back into the playoffs this fall.

CHS finished 4-6 last season, and this season will aim to improve that record under head coach Billy Ojeda, who is now in his fourth season with the Red Wolves. The squad looks to be loaded with seniors, led by quarterback Aaron Davenport, but a large number of their linemen are also seniors with tremendous experience. Jackson Armstrong, Garret Nelson, Chase Kemper, Jon Bell (who also will be a tight end this season for the Red Wolves), and Cameron Poulin are among the senior linemen on the offensive and defensive lines who will be tasked with protecting Davenport and other top returning offensive players, which include receivers Zach Castle, Alec Playstead and Edgar Chavez, running back Jaren Stevenson and tight end Brandon Northrop.

Ojeda believes Archbishop Murphy and King’s will be at the top of the conference once again this fall, but also looks at Cedar Park Christian and Sultan perhaps making a push as well for the league title. They’re ready for anything. “We are looking to always challenge for the league title and we feel we can compete with anyone,” Ojeda said by email to the SVSJ.

The philosophy for the Red Wolves is a strong one. “Respect all, fear none. Create not only great football players but great human beings as well,” Ojeda said.

CPC could be a storyline to watch this fall in a lot of ways. Cedar Park during the offseason hired former Bellevue High School football coach Butch Goncharoff as their new head coach, and the move created some controversy, largely because of Goncharoff’s history with Bellevue. Yes, the coach won numerous state titles with the Wolverines, but as many people know, Goncharoff was let go following an investigation that found rules violations in the program, namely with the use of academic tutors and also concerns about residency of athletes. The coach also ran a “Wing-T” offense with Bellevue, and while it’s not known whether the same offense will be evident with CPC, how the program adjusts to life under their new coach will speak volumes about how far they will be able to go.

Incidentally, Goncharoff will be coaching with the cloud of the Bellevue exit still over his head, as that program’s boosters, after failing to find redress in court, have gone to the state legislature and are now seeking legislation to rein in the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association, the state high school sports governing body who conducted the independent investigation into the Bellevue program whose findings resulted in the dismissal of the head coach and also of his lead assistant, Pat Jones. It is not known if Jones has been hired by CPC to a similar capacity.

The Red Wolves open the season Friday against Liberty at home, then head to Edmonds Stadium next week to meet Mountlake Terrace. The Cascade opener is September 22 at King’s, with the home league opener taking place the following week against Granite Falls. All games with the exception of the Mountlake game will kick off at 7:00 p.m. (the MLT contest is a 5:00 p.m. kickoff). Also new this year is the Red Wolves, along with all other Cascade schools, will not play league rival South Whidbey during the season – SW is playing an independent football schedule this fall.

Rhett Workman

About Rhett Workman

Rhett Workman is the editor of the Snoqualmie Valley Sports Journal. Workman is a veteran sports journalist, having covered Snoqualmie Valley sports for nearly a decade with the Snoqualmie Valley Record newspaper before starting up the SVSJ. Workman's coverage has earned the support and respect of Valley coaches, players, parents and fans, and the SVSJ continues the standard of coverage that Workman brought to the Valley Record.
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