Predictions are the fun part before the first football games of the season will be played. While underrepresented in the first Associated Press prep football poll of the 2016 season, teams from the NEA League can take comfort in knowing they have a whole season to prove state prognosticators wrong.
After going undefeated in league play (7-0) and 9-2 overall last year, Colville begins the season ranked No. 7 in the Class 1A preseason poll. Lakeside finished 6-1 just behind the Indians, but had a 7-4 record overall and was not in the rankings.
Colville has the third-largest 1A enrollment in the NEA League (398) while Deer Park has the highest in the league and the third-highest in the 1A classification (441).
Chewelah was not in the AP preseason poll and is basically tied for the second-lowest enrollment in the 1A classification (not including opt-ups) with 214 kids. The Cougars were 1-7 in league and 1-9 overall. Fellow eastside team Connell was ranked No. 2 in the 1A poll, and recently moved up from 2B Okanogan is ranked No. 9. Royal received 10 first-place votes and is ranked No. 1 in the 1A ranks.
Class 2B is SWW 2B Football League-heavy with Napavine Tigers earning seven first-place votes. They’ve made the state title game, losing twice to Okanogan. Things look bright for Napavine however, with the Bulldogs moving up to the 1A ranks and the Tigers returning Associated Press Co-Player of the Year QB Wyatt Stanley.
The SWW 2B Football League has three other teams in the Class 2B rankings. Eastside team Northwest Christian (Colbert) is ranked No. 4 and has one first-place vote, Liberty is ranked No. 6 and Davenport is tied with Morton-White Pass for eighth place in the preseason poll.