Hornets look to build on last season’s title-winning success

The Enumclaw squad features a long list of proven talent, all coming together under the watchful eye of Mark Gunderson, last year’s North Puget Sound League 4A Coach of the Year.

Enumclaw’s Kellen Kranc returns for a senior season, aiming to lead the Hornets to another NPSL title. File photo Vince Miller

Enumclaw’s Kellen Kranc returns for a senior season, aiming to lead the Hornets to another NPSL title. File photo Vince Miller

The Enumclaw High football squad – coming off a stellar 2017 season that included an 8-2 record, the school’s first league title in two decades and a postseason appearance – launches a new campaign against a traditional foe.

Friday night brings the annual Battle of the Bridge, the gridiron tussle between EHS and White River High. This year’s installment is slated for the Enumclaw Expo Center with kickoff set for 7 p.m.

The Enumclaw squad features a long list of proven talent, all coming together under the watchful eye of Mark Gunderson, last year’s North Puget Sound League 4A Coach of the Year.

Gunderson has lofty expectations for his group. “We expect to compete for a league title and our goal is to take another step forward as a program,” he said. “We have made some huge strides the past two seasons and expect to build off of that.”

Leading the Hornets into a new season is returning quarterback Kellen Kranc, a first-team all-league selection a year ago. He’s back and, as a senior, Gunderson might be looking for even more.

On the receiving end of his passes will be, among others, Ethan Eilertson and Jacob Burns, both seniors. Eilertson was an all-league first-team receiver last year and Burns earned honorable mention. When the Hornets run the ball, they can look to senior Nick Harberts, a second-team pick a year ago, or junior Jackson McCann.

Whether the ball is in the air or on the ground, someone needs to clear the way. And, among the “impact players” Gunderson cites on offense, is lineman Mathew Utu, a senior.

The other side of the ball will feature “the best defensive back crew we’ve had,” Gunderson said, pointing to his pair of all-league performers, Anthony Russell and Bryson Engebretsen. Both are heading into their senior seasons and are joined by Eilertson, McCann and Travis Smith.

Harberts and Kameron McKee return at linebacker after earning second-team recognition last season and Kale Engebretsen was an honorable mention linebacker. Also expected to make a defensive impact is middle linebacker Riley Snyder. All are seniors.

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