Bonney Lake kicks off its season with a 7 p.m. match up Saturday against Bellarmine in the Emerald City Kickoff Classic at Husky Stadium.
Coach Jason Silbaugh is entering his fourth season as head coach of the Panthers and, for the second season, Bonney Lake is part of the South Puget Sound League 3A division.
Silbaugh felt this way at the beginning of last season and still believes the SPSL 3A is one of the “toughest leagues in the state.”
Bonney Lake finished last season with a 3-7 record but Silbaugh said many of the games were close.
He said an added bonus is that “no one looks at us very hard.” That leaves room for the Panthers to surprise people.
Silbaugh believes this year’s team is a “tighter unit” who enjoy playing football together. He said the team is a fairly young team with a nice mixture of sophomores and juniors and a good amount of seniors to bring the leadership.
When it comes to the skilled positions, Silbaugh said he thinks the Panthers have more talent than they did a season ago.
Bonney Lake lost some players due to graduation and Silbaugh said the five big names fans won’t see on the field this year are Isaiah Weed, Riley Miller, Jordan Zimmerman, Ethan McElderry and Dillon Jordan.
Stepping in for Weed’s absence in the quarterback position, Silbaugh said, will be senior Dane Wagner.
Sibaugh said Wagner played a few snaps during the Auburn Mountainview game last season but other than that he doesn’t have much varsity game experience.
“He has come a long way,” Silbaugh said. “I think he even has a stronger arm than Weed did.”
Another player to keep an eye on, Silbaugh said, is junior Caleb Davis who plays offensive line and defensive end.
“He’s a stud,” Silbaugh said. “He’s one of our leaders.”
A new name on the field will be junior Marcus Hamilton. He didn’t play last season because he had surgery to fix a torn ACL.
Silbaugh said Hamilton is virtually an unknown and he is all around the “best athlete at Bonney Lake.”
Senior Jordan Cozzi was a two-way starter last season for the Panthers and will most likely be playing corner and wide receiver this year for Bonney Lake.
Junior Cody Miller was third string quarterback last season but Silbaugh said they moved him to wide receiver at the end of the year.
He will be playing receiver and free safety this season.
“He’s had a good summer,” Silbaugh said.
And finally, Silbaugh said to keep a look out for returning starter junior Jason Day. Day will be playing in the running back position as well as safety. Last season he was a second team all-league linebacker.
Silbaugh can’t wait for the season to start.
“I think the coaches are more excited to start playing games than the players are,” he said.