LA CENTER — Just like it does after every Wildcats victory, the victory bell chimed loudly Friday night. This time, however, the sound seemed particularly fitting.
After all, “La Center — 1A Trico League Co-Champions” does have a nice ring to it.
The Wildcats entered the game needing a victory to share the league title with Kalama and Toledo. After blasting Kalama 49-7 Friday, they left no doubt as to whether they were deserving champions.
Besides scoring on all but one full possession in the first half, La Center (6-3, 6-1) stifled the most potent offense in the league for 48 minutes.
Needless to say, Wildcats coach John Lambert was pleased.
“This just shows how much the guys have improved,” said Lambert, whose team will meet Tenino at La Center Middle School in the first round of the playoffs next week. “We had a great week of practice. The guys were really focused on what they needed to do.”
La Center quarterback Dylan King scored the first two touchdowns of the game, both times capping a long drive with a 1-yard run.
Alex Meza made it 21-0 when he broke loose for a 55-yard scoring run in the second quarter, and after Kalama (6-3, 6-1) got on the board, Wildcats running back Mike Polyakov responded with a 43-yard TD rush to make it 28-7.
After recovering an onsides kick (La Center recovered two of three onsides kicks), the Wildcats added one more score before the half when King tossed a 30-yard pass to Austin Heldt.
Polyakov, who had 143 yards on 18 carries Friday, was particularly satisfied with the win. The senior had always wanted to play for La Center, but didn’t get the opportunity until this year after Vancouver Christian’s football program folded.
So one year after transferring, he became a champion — and couldn’t wait to celebrate with his teammates.
“All the guys here are really rooting for each other,” said Polyakov, whose team has kept opponents to single-digit scoring for five straight games. “It’s really exciting.”
Kalama 0 7 0 0— 7
La Center 14 21 7 7—49
LC — Dylan King 1 run (Conner Wonderly kick)
LC — King 1 run (kick failed)
LC — Alex Meza 55 run (Patrick Mayolo pass from King)
K — Austin Johnson 18 run (Johnson kick)
LC — Mike Polyakov 43 run (Wonderly kick)
LC — Austin Heldt 30 pass from King (Wonderly kick)
LC — Mayolo 1 run (Wonderly kick)
LC — Mayolo 2 pass from King (Wonderly kick)
Rushing — Kalama — Austin Johnson 6-55, Jake Clizbe 4-18, Ethan Oomittuk 4-32; La Center — Mike Polyakov 18-143, Alex Meza 13-96, Tyrone Kulla 6-56, Patrick Mayolo 10-44.
Passing — Kalama — name Ethan Oomittuk 1-5-0-16; La Center — Dylan King 2-2-0-32.
Receiving — Kalama — Jake Clizbe 1-16. La Center — Austin Heldt 1-30, Patrick Mayolo 1-2.