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Washington’s Top 50 high school football teams: With lots of returning high-end talent, No. 28 Kentwood 'a quarterback away' from being 4A NPSL contender

And the Conquerors might have gotten one in Foster High School QB transfer Renat Mamikonyan, who impressed at the recent Northwest 9 in Yakima.
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SBLive is previewing the Top 50 high school teams in Washington ahead of the fall 2021 season. Here’s an inside look at the Kentwood Conquerors of the 4A NPSL – the No. 28 team in our countdown.

SPRING 2021 IN REVIEW

5-1 in 4A NPSL (second place).

COACH’S RESUMÉ

  • Mike Bush, seventh season.
  • Overall record: 39-19.
  • Coordinators (base scheme): Offense – Brandon Gibson (pro-style). Defense – Rex Norris (3-4).

NOTABLE DEPARTURES

ATH/DB Jalin Church

OL Carter Hanson

WR Gabriel Ogunleye

QB Jackson Proctor

LB Naizan Seumalo

RB Lole Tapasa

RETURNING STARTERS

Offense – 6. Defense – 8.

TOP PLAYERS

TE/DL Palamveer Dhaliwal, 6-4, 215, jr.

OL/DL Mikaio Edwards, 5-11, 275, jr.

LB DeAndre Gill, 6-5, 220, sr.

DB/WR Kamal Hamilton, 6-3, 185, sr.

QB Renat Mamikonyan, 5-11, 190, sr.

LB Elijah Mareko, 6-3, 225, sr.

DL/OL Elijah Napihaa, 6-3, 315, soph.

LB/OL Zekiel Seumalo, 6-1, 245, jr.

OL Joel Smith, 6-2, 240, sr.

DB/WR Omari Williams, 5-9, 165, jr.

THREE TO SEE

DeAndre Gill, outside linebacker

Read More

Guys his size aren't supposed to run and cover pass catchers like he can, but the UCLA commit is an extraordinary athlete - and big name.

Elijah Mareko, inside linebacker

When it comes to physicality and on-field production, this was Kentwood's best player on defense in the spring - and what he hits, he rattles.

Omari Williams, wide receiver

Three-phase all-4A NPSL pick (WR/CB/KOR) last spring, he evolved into the breakaway big-play performer for Conks out of the slot.

FALL SEASON OUTLOOK

Before the Sam Huard-led Kennedy Catholic uprising in the 4A NPSL the past two seasons, Kentwood was consistently the preseason pick as the team to beat in this league.

Does that shift back in favor of the Conquerors this fall?

The pieces - players and coaches - are certainly in place for that to happen.

"We've got a really good group," Kentwood coach Mike Bush said.

And it all starts on defense.

First, Bush welcomed back a familiar face to the coaching staff - former coach Rex Norris - as the new defensive coordinator.

Bush knows how much of an upgrade the Norris hire is.

"He's a way better defensive coordinator than me," Bush said with a chuckle.

Up front, the Conquerors have talented underclassmen, led by all-4A NPSL sophomore nose guard Elijah Napihaa.

Behind them roams as good a linebacking duo as you're going to find in UCLA commit DeAndre Gill on the outside, and Elijah Mareko on the inside. Both are seniors.

Last spring was a bit of an adjustment period for Gill, who came up from California. He switched to a new position (from safety). And he was hampered by an injured wrist all season.

And on the back end, junior Omari Williams was a reliable one-on-one defender at cornerback - and becomes the leader of the secondary now that Jalin Church has graduated.

On offense, Bush admitted the team is "a quarterback away from being really good." And his fortunes may have changed with the late-summer transfer of Renat Mamikonyan, a strong-armed passer who was at Foster High School (721 passing yards, 12 touchdowns in three games as a junior).

Also a decathlete, Mamikonyan qualified for the Northwest 9 Showcase in Yakima, and impressed camp evaluators.

"People see we have a ton of talent," Bush said. "But our assistant coaches do a great job of getting them ready."

FALL 2021 SCHEDULE

  • Sept. 11 vs. Bellevue
  • Sept. 18 at Bothell
  • Sept. 24 at Kentlake
  • Oct. 1 vs. Kentridge
  • Oct. 8 at Tahoma
  • Oct. 14 vs. Federal Way
  • Oct. 22 vs. Kennedy Catholic

(Featured photo by Vince Miller)