Bonney Lake High School students are still preparing for their first day of school, but the Panthers football team has been hard at work since mid-August training to compete in an all-new league.
Although Bonney Lake remains in the 3A classification, its sports teams are now a part of the Pierce County League, meaning the Panthers will be playing mostly new teams this year.
The PCL list includes Bethel, Lincoln, Mount Tahoma, Spanaway Lake, Stadium and Wilson high schools. Enumclaw High School moved into the North Puget Sound League 4A and Sumner High School into the SPSL 4A.
The only familiar opponent the Panthers will face this year is Lakes High School.
“The league we were in last year was one of the best in the state at the 3A level,” Panther coach Jason Silbaugh wrote in an email interview. “This new league is just as tough. Lakes, Wilson, Lincoln, and us were all in the round of 16 last year… Our kids our really excited for the challenge that this new league will bring.”
This years starting offensive lineup is junior quarterback Kaiden Hammand; senior running backs Marcus Hamilton and Jason Day; wide receivers Cody Miller, senior, and juniors Braydon Tressler and Adam Fahsel; and senior tight ends Trevor Barger and Riley Teed. On the line are senior left tackle Brandonn Hoffman, senior left guard Casey Todd, junior right guard Alema Jr Oliva and senior right tackle Caleb Davis.
On defense is Hamilton at defensive end, Oliva as nose guard, Davis at defensive tackle, junior Peyton Brock with Barger and Teed as linebackers and sophomore Roman Casey with Day, Miller, Tressler and Fashel as defensive backs.
Although Hammand is new to the Panther football team, Silbaugh has called him one of the players to keep an eye on this year.
Davis and Day are two more, having been named to the Tacoma News Tribune All-Area Team and second team respectively last year.
Silbaugh added that the Seattle Time’s preseason polls ranked Bonney Lake in the top 10 this year.
Last year, the Panthers made school history by making it to the state quarterfinals after defeating Arlington and Lincoln in the playoffs, but falling to Eastside Catholic.
“Our goal as a team is to continue to get better and build on where we left off,” Silbaugh wrote. “We are going to focus on us.”
The Panthers’ season opens up with the Sunset Bowl against Sumner High School on Friday, Sept. 2.
With Sumner and Bonney Lake in separate leagues, Silbaugh wrote the teams were lucky to be able to find a time for the traditional rivalry game.
“Our kids and community love this game,” he wrote. “I think by having this game week one will be good for both teams. We can battle it out and when it is over both teams can then turn their focus on the task at hand to make the playoffs.”