THE DIFFERENCE-MAKERS

Russell Boston

RB/SS, 5-7, 165, Sr., Liberty (Issaquah)

Heart and soul of Patriots is home-run hitter on both sides of the ball.

Henry Roberts

OT/DL, 6-6, 275, Sr., Bellevue

Coveted Div. I recruit sure to provide biggest push up front for Wolverines’ bid for seventh consecutive 3A state crown.

Austin Cole

RB/DE, 6-0, 200, Sr., Juanita

Expect a breakout season for Rebels’ top runner after posting 777 all-purpose yards, including 703 rushing, in 2013 regular season and 12 TDs. Named first-team all-league on offense.

Sam Richmond

RB/DB, 5-9, 175, Sr., Bellevue

First-team All-KingCo 3A/2A selection is elusive and tough runner; should hike 2013 regular-season totals of 648 all-purpose yards and 9 TDs.

Tavin Montgomery

QB/DB, 6-0, 170, Jr., Juanita

Rebels’ signal caller could see numbers skyrocket after throwing for 1,722 yards and 21 TDs as a sophomore. Tons of athletes to help third-year starter raise his game.

Isaiah Gilchrist

RB/DB, 6-0, 170, Jr., Bellevue

Wolverines’ playmaker has designs on the mantle of top cornerback in KingCo 3A/2A and could emerge in the backfield, too.

Mustafa Branch

LB/RB, 5-11, 225, Sr., Bellevue

The heart and soul of the Wolverines’ defense is stout against the run. Has received offers from multiple Pac-12 schools.

Justus Rogers

QB/LB, 6-2, 215, Jr., Bellevue

All-around athlete ready to show he can run things full-time for arguably state’s top program. Offered a scholarship by Washington State.

THE STORY LINES

The big picture

Bellevue begins the 2014 season ranked No. 16 in the MaxPreps Xcellent 25 and No. 1 in Class 3A by The Associated Press. Wolverines bring a 54-game winning streak into the season.

Digging in for another title

With the KingCo crown usually a formality, Bellevue is eyeing the school’s 13th state title. Wolverines prep for league play by starting season with top-tier out-of-state opponents — at No. 19 Serra of Gardena, Calif., on Sept. 6 and at home Sept. 13 against Alta of Sandy, Utah. Serra game benefits Wounded Warrior Foundation.

Two in Class 2A left to battle it out

Liberty, 5-5 last fall, and Sammamish, coming off a 1-9 campaign, will be the lone Class 2A teams in KingCo 3A/2A battling for a playoff berth.

THE CAN’T-MISS GAMES

Sept. 19: Mercer Island at Bellevue, 7 p.m.

• KingCo 3A/2A opener features 3A state-title favorite against program on the rise. Islanders coach Brett Ogata was coach of the year in 2013.

Oct. 10: Juanita at Bellevue, 7 p.m.

• Rebels have many versatile weapons and hope to give Wolverines a tussle for top spot.

Oct. 24: Liberty (Issaquah) at Juanita, 7 p.m.

• Potentially could be a shootout. Both teams appear to have offensive firepower.

COACHES POLL

Predicted order of finish in KingCo 3A/2A, based on a survey of league coaches, with 10 points for first-place vote, nine for second, etc. (first-place votes in parentheses). Coaches not allowed to vote for their own teams and voted within their own division only.

School, 2013, Points (1st-place votes)

1. Bellevue, 14-0, 60 (6)

2. Juanita, 7-3, 54 (1)

3. Mercer Island, 4-5, 49

4. Liberty (Issaquah), 5-5, 47

5. Lake Washington, 4-6, 38

6. Interlake, 0-9, 34

7. Sammamish, 1-9, 33

Matt Massey