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Washington’s Top 50 high school football teams: WSU commit Djouvensky Schlenbaker headlines, but No. 43 Squalicum adds intriguing backfield partner

Schlenbaker, the top in-state running back in the class of 2022, is joined by Idaho standout Leyton Smithson, who grew up in Bellingham.
squalicum, schlenbaker

SBLive is previewing the Top 50 high school teams in Washington ahead of the fall 2021 season. Here’s an inside look at the Squalicum Storm of the 1A/2A/3A Northwest Conference – the No. 43 team in our countdown.

SPRING 2021 IN REVIEW

4-1 in 1A/2A/3A Northwest Conference (second place).

COACH’S RESUMÉ

  • Nick Lucey, eighth season.
  • Overall record: 56-16.
  • Coordinators (base scheme): Offense – Nick Lucey (power spread). Defense – Brian Young (odd front).

NOTABLE DEPARTURES

QB Mason Binning

WR/DB Bryce Pennock

OL Jayden Raymond

LB/TE Billy Scammell

OL/DL Jacob Watt

RETURNING STARTERS

Offense – 6. Defense – 8.

TOP PLAYERS

WR/DB Kaleb Hawkinson, 6-2, 215, sr.

OL/LB Bryson Lamb, 6-3, 220, sr.

LB Jaymeson Lloyd-Thompson, 5-11, 215, sr.

WR/DB Jayden "Kai" Posey, 6-2, 175, sr.

WR/DB Reed Richardson, 6-0, 175, sr.

RB/LB Djouvensky "Ben" Schlenbaker, 6-1, 215, sr.

QB/DB Leyton Smithson, 6-1, 195, sr.

THREE TO SEE

Kai Posey, cornerback

Read More

He's a lockdown one-on-one defender with a long wingspan, making it difficult for quarterbacks to throw it by him, or over him.

Djouvensky Schlenbaker, running back

Proven all he can as one of all-time Whatcom County greats, but team does want him to catch more passes in space this fall.

Leyton Smithson, quarterback

Totaled nearly 1,100 rushing-receiving yards as a tailback in Idaho as junior, but how will those skills translate under center?

FALL SEASON OUTLOOK

Sometimes, it's just difficult to predict the floor and ceiling of certain teams.

Under coach Nick Lucey, the Storm has never had a losing season - with back-to-back 11-victory campaigns in 2015 and 2016 in the 3A ranks.

But - quietly - the Squalicum coaching staff is bubbling about the potential of this team heading into 2021.

By now, everyone is well aware of WSU commit Djouvensky Schlenbaker at running back. He was a 1,000-yard rusher in the spring in just five games - and the three-star prospect, according to 247Sports.com, is the top-rated in-state tailback in this class.

What more can Schlenbaker do for the Storm? Lucey said it is time for the teenager to impact the defensive side of the ball like he does on offense.

"He's a guy, at times, that has flashed on defense (at strong-side linebacker)," Lucey said. "We want him to thoroughly be a dominant player all game long."

But what makes Squalicum's offensive backfield potentially the best in 2A - and one of the best in the state - is the addition of an old face in senior Leyton Smithson.

Smithson grew up in Bellingham with this core group of seniors, but moved with his family to Boise before high school. He starred at Mountain View High School as a multi-purpose player who was also a state contender in the 100-meter dash in track and field.

Lucey's first thought was to ask Smithson if he wanted a try at quarterback - only to be beaten to the punch by the teenager.

"He came to me and said, 'Coach, what do you think about me playing quarterback?'" Lucey said. "He is a natural leader."

Smithson becomes an instant dual threat who can make defenses pay for paying too much attention to Schlenbaker.

"This kid has been kind of a dream," said Lucey, adding that Smithson reminds him of ex-Sehome standout Taylor Rapp. "He has a real natural feel for passing."

FALL 2021 SCHEDULE

  • Sept. 3 vs. Lynden Christian
  • Sept. 10 at Sequim
  • Sept. 17 at Lynden
  • Sept. 24 vs. Lakewood
  • Oct. 1 at Sehome
  • Oct. 8 vs. Archbishop Murphy
  • Oct. 15 at Sedro-Woolley
  • Oct. 22 vs, Nooksack Valley
  • Oct. 29 vs. Burlington-Edison

(Photo by Hailey Palmer/Lynden Tribune)