Washington’s Top 50 high school football teams: Will No. 9 Bellevue, led by ‘electric’ Ishaan Daniels, re-enter the 3A championship hunt?

SBLive is previewing the Top 50 high school teams in Washington ahead of the fall 2021 season. Here’s an inside look at the Bellevue Wolverines of the 3A KingCo Conference – the No. 9 team in our countdown.

SPRING 2021 IN REVIEW

3-1 in COVID-impacted 4A/3A KingCo (second place).

COACH’S RESUME

  • Michael Kneip, fourth season.
  • Overall record: 24-5.
  • Coordinators: OC – Morgan Richey (Wing-T); DC – Matt Gilbert (multiple).

NOTABLE DEPARTURES

RB/DB Dan Marino

DL Matulino Masunu

QB Bryson Sleeper

DL Tim Underwood

TOP PLAYERS

RB/WR/DB Ishaan Daniels, 5011, 150, jr.

OL/DL Elliot Hamilton, 6-5, 280, sr.

TE/LB Hogan Hansen, 6-5, 200, soph.

OL/DL Peter Netelenbos, 6-0, 260, sr.

RB/LB William Wang, 5-7, 193, sr.

RETURNING STARTERS

Offense – 8. Defense – 7.

THREE TO SEE

Ishaan Daniels, cornerback/safety

One of the more electric pure athletes to come through Bellevue in recent years. That’s why in addition to being the team’s lockdown cornerback, he’ll slide into the “Budda Baker spot” – more safety, and wingback on offense.

Hogan Hansen, tight end/outside linebacker

His speed and athleticism gives run-heavy Bellevue a dangerous option downfield (he proved that in four starts last spring as a ninth grader). Also has the length and speed to flourish at outside linebacker (40 tackles in spring).

William Wang, fullback

If, at 5-7, 190, he doesn’t raise eyebrows stepping off the team bus – more consideration after he rushed for 950 yards and five touchdowns in four games as a junior? Wang has a deep understanding of how to be successful in the Wing-T.

FALL 2021 OUTLOOK

It takes the right preparation and execution to carry out Bellevue’s Wing-T offense. It also helps to have the right personnel. 

Bellevue believes it has exactly that.

On paper, this might be fourth-year head coach Michael Kneip’s most talented team. The Wolverines return wiry three-star cornerback/wingback Ishaan Daniels, standout 6-5 sophomore tight end Hogan Hansen and even linebacker George Kruger, the team’s leading tackler.

Oh, and 15 starters from a team that went 3-1 in the spring, including two legitimate Power-5 prospects, two three-year starters on the line in Peter Netelenbos and Elliott Hamilton in addition to Kruger.

“This is, by far, the best defense we’ve had,” since I took over, Kneip said.

RELATED: Bellevue No. 4 in SBLive’s 3A preseason rankings

Kneip was a part of four consecutive state titles playing under former coach Butch Goncharoff during Bellevue’s long, now infamous run atop 3A. Since he took over the program in 2018, the Wolverines may not consistently boast star-studded players, but they have certainly not dropped off. He’s mounted two consecutive playoff seasons, including a state semifinal run in his debut season.

The Wolverines have challenged themselves in their non-league schedule in recent years, and this fall is no different. Bellevue will have played two perennial playoff teams in Peninsula and Lincoln, as well as Kentwood on the road before it plays its first 4A KingCo game.

That’s where having speed like Daniels on both sides of the ball helps. 

“We haven’t had a player like (Daniels) in a long time,” said Kneip, who described the three-star cornerback (per 247 Sports) as “electric.”

Returning six experienced guys on the offensive line can only help, too, especially since Bellevue will be breaking in a new quarterback to replace Bryson Sleeper (junior Cam Sleeper and sophomore Lucas Razore are the battling for the starting job). 

Is this the year Bellevue reasserts itself as a title contender after it won nine 3A titles in 11 years? (Not including the two vacated titles in 2012 and 2013)

“Our kids believe for the first time that I’ve been back that they can win a title,” Kneip said. “They think they’re at par with those top programs.”

FALL 2021 SCHEDULE

  • Sept. 3 at Peninsula
  • Sept. 11 at Kentwood 
  • Sept. 17 vs. Lincoln of Tacoma
  • Sept. 24 at Lake Washington
  • Oct. 1 vs. Mercer Island
  • Oct. 8 at Newport of Bellevue
  • Oct. 15 vs. Liberty of Issaquah
  • Oct. 22 at Hazen
  • Oct. 29 vs. Juanita

Thank you for joining the discussion on SBLive!

%d bloggers like this: