Veterans should bolster Edmonds-Woodway defense | Football

Offense brings back running back Cherry
Jun 29, 2017
Photo by: David Pan Edmonds-Woodway’s Cappassio Cherry (right) clashes with a teammate during a drill at Edmonds-Woodway High School.

Under most circumstances the graduation of three all-league defensive players might be a significant hurdle for a team to overcome.

The Warriors, who had one of the top defenses in the Wesco 3A South last season, lost first-team lineman Ali Gaye and linebacker Abdoulie Jatta and second-team linebacker Anthony Lindamood. Gaye is headed to the University of Washington to play football, while Lindamood will be wrestling at Balcone College in Oklahoma.

“We lost three great players,” Edmonds-Woodway coach John Gradwohl said.

Gaye, Lindamood and Jatta and this year’s senior class were not only great players but great leaders, Gradwohl added.

“As much as they were talented, their leadership is what we’re really trying to replace as well,” he said.

What has Gradwohl excited is the return of the other eight players on defense, including first-team defensive back Noah Becker, lineman Tyler McClendon, and second-team defensive back Bryan Sarnowski and linebacker Dominic Lawrence. Others back are linebacker Jayme Murphy, linebacker Salihou Fatty and lineman Tyler McAtee.

“We pretty much have everyone back except those three seniors,” Gradwohl said. “We’re pretty excited about our defense.”

The offense saw a little more turnover but still has some familiar faces in junior-to-be running back Cappassio Cherry, who had a breakout sophomore season.

Gradwohl likes the hard work that Cherry has put in the offseason. Cherry kept busy in the spring with track and field and has been hitting the weight room.

“He continues to get better,” Gradwohl said. “He’s a great kid. As much attention as he gets, he loves being on the team. He has a great attitude. He’s willing to do whatever it takes.”

Cherry will have some new teammates in the backfield with the graduation of quarterback Kameron Krall and running back Henry Tillman, who will be playing football at Willamette University in Oregon.

Senior Reilly Chappell backed up Krall last year and led the Warriors to a couple of touchdowns in a key victory over Snohomish after coming in for an injured Krall.

“He’s doing the things to be the guy,” Gradwohl said. “I really appreciate that he worked hard in the offseason. It’s his job to win or lose. He’s taken the bull by the horn. He’s coming in as a senior. He’s waited his turn. … It’s nice to see his progress. He’s not the same player he was last year. He’s gotten better. He’s done a great job.”

Juniors Hesham Dannoun and Patrick Norton also are figuring into the quarterback mix.

“Both have their individual talents,” Gradwohl said. “Like anybody they have things they need to work on. They have a good work ethic. It’s been a productive spring, identifying strengths and weaknesses and setting goals for what we need.”

The Warriors are considering a number of players to join Cherry in the backfield. Lawrence, Becker, senior Kelly Jackson, senior Chris Tilbury and sophomore Owen Spillane could see action. Many of the players share similar skills and are interchangeable, Gradwohl said.

The Edmonds-Woodway coach likes the talent level of this year’s group of players. What he is waiting to see is who is ready to do more.

“We’re looking for kids to step up and be leaders,” Gradwohl said.

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