Washington’s Top 50 high school football teams: Defense will lead the way for different-look No. 39 Royal

SBLive is previewing the Top 50 high school teams in Washington ahead of the fall 2021 season. Here’s an inside look at the Royal Knights of the 1A South Central Athletic Conference – the No. 39 team in our countdown.

SPRING 2021 IN REVIEW

5-0 in COVID-created North Central League (first place).

COACH’S RESUME

  • Wiley Allred, 23rd season.
  • Overall record: 248-27.
  • Coordinators: OC – Wiley Allred (spread, multiple); DC – Jeremy Scroggins (3-4).

NOTABLE DEPARTURES

QB Caleb Christensen

WR Cooper Christensen

TE/DE Elliot Delay

WR/DB Aldo Farias

OL Carlos Garcia

DL Jose Medina

TOP PLAYERS

WR/TE/DB Gunnar Anderson, 6-2, 180, sr.

QB/LB Derek Bergeson, 6-1, 195, sr

WR/DB Luke Bergeson, 6-1, 195, sr.

LB/RB Avery Ellis, 6-2, 230, sr.

OL Detton Jenks, 6-2, 250, jr.

DL Eddie Jimenez, 5-10, 200, sr.

DL Manny Sandoval, 5-9, 195, sr.

RETURNING STARTERS

Offense – 6. Defense – 6.

THREE TO SEE

Gunnar Anderson, tight end/defensive back

A key cog in the Knights’ defense, Anderson had three interceptions in five games in the spring at safety. Expect him to make more of an impact at WR/TE to help fill the pass-catching void left by Cooper Christensen.

Derek Bergeson, quarterback/linebacker

Grew up playing quarterback, and battled for the job in the past with all-state passer Caleb Christensen. The versatile linebacker and wide receiver will now step under center full-time.

Avery Ellis, running back/linebacker

Strong, fast standout linebacker in a corps that is the strength of this Knights’ team. Getting him the ball on offense out of the backfield – often – is the key to Royal’s offense.

FALL SEASON OUTLOOK

It’s hard to understate the Knights’ recent dominance. In summary, Royal has:

  • Won four of the last five 1A state championships
  • Not lost a game since 2018
  • Lost one game in the past six years (72-1 over the last six seasons), which included sweeping a COVID-19 spring schedule filled exclusively with larger-school neighbors

It’s reasonable to question whether Royal’s death grip on the state may be in the slightest bit of jeopardy after graduating program pillars and all-state players Cooper Christensen (WR/DB) and Caleb Christensen (QB), among others.

But the Knights, the preseason 1A favorites, are still the team to beat.

Think of it less as a turning the page and more as a passing of the torch. 

Their strengths will be in the linebacking corps, where Derek Bergeson — an all-state linebacker as a sophomore — and Avery Ellis will lead the defense from the center of the field.

“Our strength starts with Derek and Avery,” Royal’s eight-time state championship coach Wiley Allred said.

Bergeson takes over under center (with junior Dylan Allred as a capable backup), and will have plenty of skill guys to get the ball to, starting with Ellis, the team’s leading tailback who will command a heavy load of carries all year, and a strong receiving corps with Edgar Delarosa, Luke Bergeson, Jace Allred, and Gunnar Anderson at tight end.

Their biggest question mark is whether the offensive line can hold up. 

“We’re quite a bit smaller than years past,” Wiley Allred said.

They return two starters from the spring in center Benji Guadarrama and junior Detton Jenks, and senior Eddie Jimenez has lots of reps at right tackle. 

FALL 2021 SCHEDULE

  • Sept. 3 at Ellensburg
  • Sept. 10 vs. Othello
  • Sept. 18 at Cedar Park Christian
  • Sept. 24 vs. La Salle
  • Oct. 1 at Wahluke
  • Oct. 8 vs. Kiona-Benton
  • Oct. 15 at Zillah
  • Oct. 22 at College Place
  • Oct. 29 vs. Connell

(Featured photo by Vince Miller)

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