Washington’s Top 50 high school football teams: Luis Salgado, No. 22 Kamiakin have ‘a lot of swag’ behind MCC title, postseason aspirations

SBLive is previewing the Top 50 high school teams in Washington ahead of the fall 2021 season. Here’s an inside look at the Kamiakin Braves of the 4A/3A Mid-Columbia Conference – the No. 22 team in our countdown.

SPRING 2021 IN REVIEW

5-1 in 4A/3A Mid-Columbia Conference (second place).

COACH’S RESUMÉ

  • Scott Biglin, 13th season.
  • Overall record: 102-31.
  • Coordinators (base scheme): Offense – Scott Biglin (spread). Defense – Ryan Carter (4-3).

NOTABLE DEPARTURES

RB/DB Tuna Altahir

WR Woodley Downard

WR/DL Messiah Jones

OL Ben Noah

RETURNING STARTERS

Offense – 6. Defense – 7.

TOP PLAYERS

WR/DB Aidan Canada, 5-9, 160, sr.

LB Kale Crawford, 6-0, 190, sr.

OL/DL Devin Crow, 6-0, 210, sr.

DB/QB/P Payton Graham, 6-0, 170, sr.

WR/LB EJ Hawkins, 6-2, 210, sr.

QB Henry Mercado, 5-10, 165, sr.

LB/ATH Luis Salgado, 5-8, 188, sr.

WR/DB Gabe Tahir, 6-2, 180, jr.

OL/DL Aaron Tano, 6-1, 250, sr.

THREE TO SEE

Luis Salgado, inside linebacker/running back

What can’t Salgado do? He’s the quarterback of the defense, will make you pay out of the slot and will shoulder a much larger load as the team’s running back, replacing two-time MCC MVP Tuna Altahir.

Gabe Tahir, cornerback

Emerged in a big way as one of the league’s top pass defenders as a sophomore – and with his big frame, strength and competitiveness – good luck trying getting big plays on this teenager.

Aaron Tano, defensive end

Co-MCC lineman of the year is best as a pass rusher – and was recently cleared to resume activity after undergoing shoulder surgery. Also the team’s starting left tackle on offense.

FALL SEASON OUTLOOK

Coach Scott Biglin isn’t one for grand statements or boastful hyperbole, so take up any questions as to whether Kamiakin might be approaching a down year after graduating several college-bound standouts with his returners.

“They’ve got a lot of swag,” Biglin said. “The chip on their shoulder is fun to be around. They’re not going to be scared of any situation.”

Kamiakin is listening, and determined to prove any doubters wrong – especially in a season that could see a wide-open championship chase among the league’s top 4A squads (Richland and Chiawana are the other two programs).

After sending off Woodley Downard, two-time league MVP Tuna Altahir and Messiah Jones to Eastern Washington, Kamiakin has somehow backfilled their voids with capable playmakers.

That starts with a linebacking corps that Biglin said “is going to be the best we’ve ever had” (again, consider his stance on hyperbole). The spring MCC defensive player of the year Luis Salgado returns as the leader of the locker room, as well as the linebacking corps that includes returning starters Kale Crawford and EJ Hawkins. 

Salgado’s biggest adjustment will be on offense, where the more-than-capable rusher will move from a scat back-type to the team’s starting running back. 

“He’s just a special player, one of the most pleasurable kids I’ve ever had coaching,” Biglin said.

Lockdown cornerback and Penn State target Gabe Tahir and Aidan Canada will see an increased number of targets out at wide receiver, which should give returning starting quarterback Henry Mercado lots of options — again.

The Braves won’t fill the trenches with hulking linemen, but they will be physical. League co-lineman of the year Aaron Tano is back as one of four returning starters back on the offensive line.

FALL 2021 SCHEDULE

  • Sept. 3 at Hermiston
  • Sept. 9 vs. Chiawana
  • Sept. 17 at Richland
  • Sept. 24 vs. Walla Walla
  • Oct. 1 vs. Southridge
  • Oct. 8 vs. Kennewick
  • Oct. 15 at Pasco
  • Oct. 22 vs. Hanford
  • Oct. 29 at Sunnyside

KAMIAKIN IN VIEW

(All photos by Tommy Wolf@SWX_TommyWolf/Lit Media Productions)

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