Cedar Park Christian players mix it up during practice. Andy Nystrom/ staff photo

Cedar Park Christian players mix it up during practice. Andy Nystrom/ staff photo

‘We’ve built a nice thing out here’

Hopoi begins his first season as Cedar Park Christian head coach.

As first-year Cedar Park Christian head coach Manase Hopoi looks around the football field before practice, he fully soaks up the atmosphere.

“It’s a great day for football!” yelled one of the players about the sun-filled afternoon.

The fired-up Eagles placed first in the 1A/2A/2B North Sound Conference last season with a 5-0 record and notched an overall 7-2 mark.

“Just kind of keep things rolling, we’ve built a nice thing out here,” Hopoi said of his new job. “We build these young men to be their best and try their best, so they can carry on from when they become college students or even adults, parents, uncles or cousins.”

Hopoi takes the reins from Butch Goncharoff, who was named the XFL Seattle Dragons’ running backs coach and remains on board with the Eagles as their offensive coordinator, according to Cedar Park athletic director Todd Lundberg.

For the last two years, Hopoi was Cedar Park’s defensive line assistant and defensive coordinator, and he’ll man the latter position again this year in addition to leading the staff.

This season, Cedar Park has five seniors, 12 juniors and 11 freshmen in its gridiron ranks.

Senior running back Zach Wilkins (5-11, 200) is a hard-nosed rusher and “he finds a window and runs and doesn’t stop until he hears the whistle,” Hopoi said of the state’s top 1A/2A/2B ball carrier in 2018. One of Wilkins’ highlights last season was racking up 299 yards on 23 carries for three touchdowns of 48, 71 and 85 yards against Blaine.

Other top seniors are Kellan Cerrillo (6-2, 220), who plays halfback and cornerback and has known the Eagles’ offensive and defensive schemes since his youth; and returning starting quarterback Daniel Rickman (6-1, 220), who is an experienced player and leader and thrived in seven-versus-seven passing training over the summer.

On the defensive side of the ball, there’s junior tackle and 2018 all-conference first-teamer Elijah Brown (6-0, 215).

“He just likes to hit people, he likes to tackle. You just tell him what to do, and he gets it done,” Hopoi said of Brown.

Hopoi brings a wealth of experience to the Eagle football scene. He started at defensive tackle for four years at the University of Washington, played for the Minnesota Vikings for a bit and competed for eight years in the Arena Football League.

The coach tells his players to never give up and grow from each situation in order to excel and persevere in football, school and life.


Sept. 6 home vs. Concrete, 7 p.m. (Juanita)

Sept. 14 at Rancho Christian (California), 5:45 p.m. (Moorpark)

Sept. 21 home vs. Vashon Island, 7 p.m. (Juanita)

Sept. 27 home vs. Fort Vancouver, 7 p.m. (Juanita)

Oct. 4 home vs. Granite Falls, 7 p.m. (Juanita)

Oct. 12 home vs. South Whidbey, 7 p.m. (Lake Washington)

Oct. 18 at Kings, 7 p.m.

Oct. 25 at Nathan Hale, 7 p.m. (Northeast Athletic Complex)

Nov. 1 home vs. Sultan, 7 p.m. (TBA)

Eagle head coach Manase Hopoi shows players how to break through the line. Andy Nystrom/ staff photo

Eagle head coach Manase Hopoi shows players how to break through the line. Andy Nystrom/ staff photo

More in Sports

Kenmore and Bothell squads are hitting the hardwood

Viks, Jags, Cougs and Eagles roll into league play.

Bothell falls to Camas in 4A state title game

Papermakers win, 35-14, in Gridiron Classic in Tacoma.

Football and friendship drive Bothell’s Bickhaus

Cougar senior set for state final.

Cougars roar into 4A state football final

Bothell beats Woodinville, 31-21, in semifinals.

Bothell players earn slowpitch softball all-league honors

Ten Bothell High players earned all-KingCo/Metro slowpitch softball honors this season. First-teamers… Continue reading

‘No. 1 is to have fun’

Longtime coach Eichelsdoerfer retires after years at Bothell and Juanita

Football players named to 4A KingCo Crown all-league teams

Football players from Bothell, North Creek and Inglemoor received 4A KingCo Crown… Continue reading

Inglemoor swimmers shine at state

Inglemoor’s 200-yard medley relay team of Jewel Hau, Madison Chow, Ella Marzec… Continue reading

Inglemoor girls soccer set for state semifinals

Ashly Berge cracked the back of the net to send Inglemoor to… Continue reading

Bothell advances in state football playoffs with thrilling win over Kentwood

Cougars defeat Conquerors, 17-14, at Pop Keeney Stadium.

State drama: Inglemoor defeats Bellarmine in penalty kick shootout

Viks advance to state semifinals with win over Union.

North Creek punches ticket to state volleyball tournament

Jaguars will take on Richland in opening round.