Redmond high school sports: Top 10 Things to watch this fall season

On paper, the Redmond football team looks as good as it’s been in years. They return an excellent QB and team leader in David Gilbertson, a line averaging 265 pounds, and receivers John Martino and Cameron Sandquist will run routes and be targets for Gilbertson’s strong arm.

1. Redmond football: Finally the year of the Mustang?

On paper, the Redmond football team looks as good as it’s been in years.

They return an excellent QB and team leader in David Gilbertson, a line averaging 265 pounds, and receivers John Martino and Cameron Sandquist will run routes and be targets for Gilbertson’s strong arm.

Coach Pluschke is hoping for a breakout year that sees the team go deep into the postseason. A new 4A Kingco alignment with Skyline and Issaquah will make that task more difficult.

If Mustangs can stay healthy and avoid injury to key players unlike last year, look for them to overcome their lack of depth and be a contending force down the home stretch. If Gilbertson’s 20-of-29, 313-yard, three-touchdown performance in week 1 vs. Prosser was any indication, he’ll be an exciting one to watch.

2. Redmond girls’ swimming: Cardwell seeks more gold

Maureen Cardwell is working hard to overcome sore shoulders and make a run at another pair of state gold medals.

Cardwell hopes to defend her 50 free and 100 butterfly state titles and become the first back-to-back state champion at Redmond High since 1997. Steph Wong won two straight golds in the 100 free in 1996 and 1997.

3. Redmond cross country: Can the Mustangs make it a banner season?

Both boys and girls team enter this season ranked as top five teams in the state. The girls, led by the 1-2 punch of ‘Devin McMahon and Sarah Lord, are ranked second in the state in the preseason coaches poll and the boys, led by Aiden Irish and Mack Young, are ranked fourth.

However, McMahon has not been training for the last several weeks because of a low heart rate. It is not a life-threatening condition, but doctors -— and McMahon for that matter — want to take the proper precautions. McMahon is hopeful of returning to the team soon and hopes to improve on last season’s fourth-place finish at the Class 4A state meet. The boys team is also nursing some nagging injuries, but Irish and Young are both healthy and hoping for big things this fall.

If the Mustangs get healthy and keep pushing each other, both teams should bring home some state hardware this fall.

4. Bear Creek boys’ soccer: Talented Strandin/Castle duo to lead Grizzlies

Dominant Grizzly soccer squad won third league title in last four years with 11-1 record, but graduate a slew of seniors including stars Chris Strandin and Garrett Benson.

Leadership role will now be in hands of junior Michael Castle and Strandin’s younger brother Ryan, a sophomore, both first-team all-SeaTac League selections in 2007. The boys’ team is loaded with talent, but will it be enough to propel this young team to another league championship and a deep run at the state tournament?

5. Redmond girls’ soccer: Ness replaces Kimball

Doug Kimball has been a Redmond High icon for the past 30 years, either as a teacher, soccer coach, or mentor to countless Mustang kids. Upon his retirement, 1999 RHS alum Kurt Ness took over the varsity girls’ program. Ness has some awesome credentials: back-to-back, first-team, all-Kingco selection, a member of the FC United U-18 national championship-winning team as a senior in high school and earned all-Pac-10 selections at Oregon State from 2001-2003. The Mustangs are young — only three seniors — and are coming off fantastic 7-1-2 league season. They return one of the league’s best in Katie Woodman, a first-team All-Kingco last year who scored 10 goals and had three assists. New 4A alignment bringing in great teams like Issaquah will be a challenge to overcome.

6. Redmond volleyball: Will Johnson’s rehiring turn team around?

It’s turnaround time for the Mustangs. They set a 4A Kingco record by finishing as the third-best team in the state with a 23-3 record in 2006, only to back that up with a a 1-12 team campaign last season. Many factors contributed to this — the fact that only one member from the 2006 starting varsity squad was retained, a general lack of leadership on the team, and a new coach.

Head coach Ross Johnson (1999-2006) was re-hired prior to the 2008 campaign and his veteran standing and proven success may be just what the program needs to turn it around and make the ‘Stangs a contender again.

7. Overlake girls’ soccer: Can they three-peat to state?

The Owls’ soccer program has developed into a powerhouse in the last couple of years, fielding a number of all-league players and making it to the state tournament in 2006 and 2007. The Owls return seven starters from last year’s 8-3-2 team, so watch out. Great defense led by all-league player Christina Nordin and Alex Boit will help star goalkeeper Ceci Votta try to duplicate last year’s effort of nine shutouts.

8. Redmond boys’ golf: Mroz to lead team

This just in: Redmond senior Alex Mroz is really good. All he did was lead the qualifying at the Pacific Northwest Golf Association Junior Amateur Championship by shooting 7-under-par (67-70-137) for two rounds at Mill Creek Country Club in August. His younger brother Charlie made state last year as well. Look for these two to lead the perennially strong Mustang boys’ team to another postseason berth with a bevy of birdies.

9. Overlake boys’ soccer: Sky’s the limit

There’s no stopping this team after their incredible turnaround in 2007, when they started 1-4-1 and ended up making the state tournament. Team returns an excellent offense led by all-state midfielder Sky Tweedie-Yates and scoring specialist Hakan Yagiz, along with a solid one-on-one defense led by Trevor Partington and Greg Safadago. Veteran coach Bob Bristol knows how to lead.

10. Bear Creek volleyball: Grizzlies set to spike competition

Experienced coach Sherrie Brown inherited a talented 9-2 league team last year that went to the district tournament. Team returns eight players and 2008 turnout (25 girls) is very good for a 2B school. First-team, all-leaguer Katie Wolfram will head the offense, and all starters have playoff experience. Look for them to have a solid year with a long-term goal of making the program’s first trip to state.