THE FRONT ROW WITH MARK NELKE: More looking ahead to the fall season in prep sports

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Thinking ahead to some possible storylines for the upcoming high school fall sports season in the area:

• 5A Inland Empire League football: Coeur d’Alene will have another new starting quarterback, and, as usual, lost a talented crop of seniors. But, just as usual, newcomers often step up the following year ­— the Vikings have made 10 straight trips to the state playoffs. Who will be the impact players this year?

Post Falls went from a senior-laden team in 2017 that made the playoffs, to a team with very few seniors last year. But, led by some talented sophomores and juniors last year, the Trojans surprised some by making the playoffs again, and even won a first-round game. With those guys now juniors and seniors, can Post Falls challenge for the league title?

Lake City has taken its lumps in recent years, but has a strong batch of younger players coming up through the pipeline. Will this be the year the Timberwolves contend again?

• Among the smaller schools ...

Timberlake reached the state 3A semifinals last fall for the first time since 2012. Can the Tigers break through this year and make their first appearance in a title game?

After five years of sharing a league with White Star teams (and watching teams from that league earn all the playoff berths), the North Star League gets its own league back, and its own playoff berth.

Who will advance to the state playoffs?

Heck, will every school in the league be able to field a team?

• 5A IEL volleyball: Lake City lost two of the best players in school history (setter Klaire Mitchell and outside hitter Ashley Kaufman) from a team that finished second at state in 2017 and third last year. But several juniors played key roles last year as well, and it will be interesting to see who becomes the leaders and go-to players this fall.

Coeur d’Alene also returns much of last year’s team that made it to state last year, and won one match.

• Among the smaller schools ...

Lakeland has been on the cusp of breaking through in 4A with an up-and-coming core of players. Can the Hawks make it to state for the first time since 2005.

Can Timberlake, which rolled through the Intermountain League and 3A District 1 tourneys without a loss, overcome heavy graduation losses and return to state for a fifth straight year?

• Girls soccer: Coeur d’Alene Charter has won three straight state 3A titles. Do I hear four?

• Swimming: Is it possible to have a swimming season without Bob Wood, the longtime coach of Lake City High and the Coeur d’Alene Area Swim Team, who stepped down as Lake City coach following last season?

It will be different, anyway, especially at Lake City, though at CAST he coached plenty of swimmers from other area high schools as well.

Mark Nelke is sports editor of The Press. He can be reached at 664-8176, Ext. 2019, or via email at mnelke@cdapress.com. Follow him on Twitter@CdAPressSports.

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