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)

In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@bothell-reporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.bothell-reporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

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

WIAA delays start dates for fall sports

Football practices to begin Sept. 5, all other sports planned for Sept. 7.

There’s still hope for spring sports, WIAA announces

Washington Interscholastic Activities Association making contingency plans for high school sports competitions after extension of stay home order.

The WIAA announced Wednesday that if schools reopen at the conclusion of the six-week statewide shutdown ordered last week by Gov. Jay Inslee, then the state championships will go on as planned. (WIAA photo)
WIAA still hoping to hold state championships in May

But if the school shutdown extends past April 24, those championships could be in jeopardy.

Athletic practices and competitions cancelled through April 24 due to coronavirus outbreak

By Andy Nystrom and Benjamin Olson Gov. Jay Inslee announced on March… Continue reading

Games are being postponed in response to coronavirus outbreak

In response to the recent coronavirus outbreak, Eastside schools are taking precautions… Continue reading

Hardwood Classic tips off after coronavirus outbreak

By Benjamin Olson and Andy Nystrom Basketball players took to the court… Continue reading

Inglemoor’s Laird shines at state swim meet

Viking takes sixth in two events.

Reporter file photo
No changes to state basketball tournament schedules after coronavirus outbreak

State boys and girls basketball Hardwood Classic tournaments in Tacoma, Yakima and… Continue reading

Most school events, including sports practices, on schedule after coronavirus outbreak

All the school districts in the Reporter’s coverage areas — Northshore, Lake… Continue reading

Inglemoor boys hoops finishes season at state regionals

Inglemoor’s boys basketball season came to an end on Saturday at the… Continue reading

Bothell-Kenmore gymnasts have superb showing at state meet

North Creek finishes third as a team, Bothell’s Cora Taylor takes first on bars.