There will be a new signal caller under center for the Mercer Island Islanders season opener on the road against Mountlake Terrace on Aug. 31.
As of Aug. 17, Islanders’ head coach Ed Slezinger hadn’t decided which of the four players vying for the position will be in the starting lineup. Last year’s starter Nikhil Nayar graduated this past June and is playing football at the University of Idaho.
“Everything we do is competition based. That is the way we operate our team. I want to see the guys push themselves to see how good they become. That translates into a better performance. Right now we got four quarterbacks (Clay Dippold, Liam Rogan, Jack Varney and Nate Buchan) competing for the starting position. There is no incumbent. They all understand they are competing. No one has been ingratiated for the role, they got to earn it,” Slezinger said. “It has been fun to watch.”
The Islanders, who finished the 2017 season with an overall record of 7-4, lost to the O’Dea Fighting Irish 55-21 in the first round of the Class 3A state playoffs. Cole Miller, who was one of the most electrifying players in KingCo last season, is gearing up for a huge season.
“Cole truly is an athlete. He isn’t necessarily a vocal guy but leads by his action. Other players see him every day at practice and he (Miller) sets the bar high. Everyone really looks at Cole as a model citizen and that is translating to how we are handling our business both in the weight room and on the field,” Slezinger said.
The Islanders return a bevy of impact players from the 2017 team, including Jack Clayville (receiver/defensive back), Henry Weiker (defensive back/receiver), Hunter Johnson (receiver) and Will Mulflur (middle linebacker).
Slezinger said there has been a significant increase in new players to the program as well.
“It has just been phenomenal. The guys that are coming out for the team are athletes in other (sports) programs in the school,” he said.
Aug. 31 at Mountlake Terrace, 7 p.m.
Sept. 7 at Issaquah, 7 p.m.
Sept. 14 NEWPORT, 7 p.m.
Sept. 21 at Burlington-Edison, 7 p.m.
Sept. 28 INTERLAKE, 7 p.m.
Oct. 5 JUANITA, 7 p.m.
Oct. 12 at Lake Washington, 7 p.m.
Oct. 19 LIBERTY, 7 p.m.