The two have playing pitch and catch since elementary school and last year it helped Barrett top 1,200 receiving to go with 20 touchdowns for the Wildcats.

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The connection began in third grade.

High-school kickoff 2018

Garfield junior Sav’ell Smalls has put in the work to become one of the top prospects in the nation. (Erika Schultz / The Seattle Times)
Garfield junior Sav’ell Smalls has put in the work to become one of the top prospects in the nation. (Erika Schultz / The Seattle Times)

Jonny Barrett emerged as a raw talent, coerced by classmate Cale Millen to play football. It continued when the long and lanky Barrett, in his first year of tackle football as a fifth-grader, hauled in a miraculous touchdown pass from Millen.

“The first touchdown I threw to him ended up bouncing off the back of his heel as he was running downfield, and it went over his head and he tracked it into his hands,” said Wildcats quarterback Millen, the Oregon-bound son of former Husky and NFL signal caller Hugh Millen. “That was a pretty good start. The play turned into like a 70-yard touchdown. He just has that knack. We’ve built some pretty good trust over the years.”

The reliable Barrett is still turning heads as he develops into an NCAA Division I receiver. He’s a leader on a team with its eyes squarely fixated on the top of KingCo 4A this fall.

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“Jonny knows how to find the hole in the defense,” Millen said of his top target, who has offers from Georgetown and Montana State. “He’s probably the best route-runner I’ve ever thrown to. And he had countless times last year where he got some huge yards and even touchdowns off playground football.”

Opponents in KingCo 4A must shift the focus of their double-teams to Barrett since Jesiah Irish graduated and is turning heads at Oregon State. Barrett, who is 6 foot 3, 185 pounds, was the beneficiary of last season’s focus on Irish, hauling in 78 passes for 1,205 yards and 20 TDs.

Candidates at wide receiver to make an impact in 2018 include senior Andrew Mostofi and junior Colby Botten, who was a running back last season.

The bond between Barrett and Millen is clear, cemented by nearly 10 years of pitch-and-catch practice and junior football.

“We just look at each other, and it’s like, ‘You seeing what I’m seeing?’ ” Barrett said. “It’s like telepathy.”

Barrett went from modest numbers and just one TD as a sophomore to his breakout junior season. Still, he keeps working.

“This season is a lot different, because we know we’re one of the best teams,” Barrett said. “We’re just striving for that championship.”

The opportunity is there for Mount Si to displace perennial KingCo 4A powers Woodinville (defending league champ and state runner-up), Bothell and Skyline as top dog. The Wildcats’ high-powered offense (35.4 points per game in 2017) are sure to give teams fits, but they must become stingier on defense to get the job done.

“It seems like everything is coming together,” said Mount Si linebacker Cody Frederick, one of the senior leaders on defense and also an offensive lineman for the first time. “We needed to make a stop in our last game, and we didn’t. That left a terrible taste all year.”

The Wildcats ended last season with a hard-to-swallow 44-40 loss to Monroe in a winner-to-state playoff game. The offense fumbled late and the defense allowed a 77-yard drive that erased the ‘Cats’ 40-37 lead with 17 seconds remaining.

“We definitely left opportunities out there,” Millen said of a 7-3 last season. “We’ll be better. I think this is really our year. This is our final shot to go to the (Tacoma) Dome.”

In the Monroe loss, Barrett hauled in his fourth TD catch of the game with 7:13 left. He finished the game with 12 catches for 201 yards.

“With guys like Cale and Jonny, they bring confidence and more to competition in practice,” Frederick said. “These guys are part of probably the best offense in the league, and arguably maybe in the state.”

Note

With the addition of Redmond to KingCo 4A, the league was broken into two divisions. Mount Si is in the Crest Division with Skyline, Eastlake, Newport and Issaquah. The Crown Division has Woodinville, Bothell, Inglemoor, North Creek and Redmond.

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KingCo 4A

Five teams to watch

Skyline: With just five starters back on offense and three on defense, coach Mat Taylor faces a mild rebuilding job. The combination of senior quarterback Joe Green and senior receiver Chris Johnson will be one of the best in KingCo 4A.

Woodinville: The Class 4A state runners-up lost a fair amount talent, but plugging players in is where coach Wayne Maxwell excels. “We have a good group of players,” Maxwell said. “They just haven’t played a whole lot of meaningful snaps yet on Friday nights.” Again, the Falcons will be strong on defense.

Mount Si: Offense is a given with all the weapons the Wildcats have, and any step forward on defense could give this programs its first crown since moving up to KingCo 4A in 2014.

Eastlake: The Wolves just missed out on a playoff berth after losing a tiebreaker for fourth place with Skyline last season. With five starters back on each side of the ball and a strong senior class, Eastlake could make a bid for one of the top spots.

Inglemoor: In coach Steve Hannan’s second season, the Vikings could make vast improvement after going 1-9 last year. Sophomore quarterback Kolby Solomon has a deep receiving corps to work with.

Five players to watch

Cale Millen, Mount Si, Sr., QB
The University of Oregon commit piled up 2,743 yards passing and 35 TDs passing to go with five interceptions in 2017 and is rated the No. 2 QB in the state for the Class of 2019 by 247Sports.com.

Miles Mustarde, Woodinville, Sr., LB/RB
One of the top playmakers on the Falcons’ 13-1 state runner-up squad, Mustarde will team with Danny Metsker as arguably the best linebacker tandem around in 2018. He had 49 tackles, 5 ½ sacks, 5 interceptions last year.

Joe Green, Skyline, Sr., QB
The Harvard commit’s stock keeps climbing, guiding the Spartans to the state quarterfinals after a fourth-place tie in the KingCo 4A regular season. Green threw for more than 2,600 yards and 25 TDs with six interceptions as a junior.

Quentin Moore, Inglemoor, Sr., TE/DE
Washington’s top-rated tight end in the Class of 2019 hopes to elevate a sagging program, which went 1-9 last season. Moore caught 17 passes for 272 yards and two TDs as a junior.

Christian Galvan, Bothell, Jr., RB/CB
The Cougars got more than 700 yards rushing and 10 TDs from Galvan as a sophomore. He also provides a spark in the return game and ranked at the top of KingCo 4A for all-purpose yards at 140 yards per game in 2017.