King’s Way lacrosse off to hot start

Preston earns state player of the week honor

By Paul Danzer, Columbian community sports reporter

Published:

 
photoPrairie High senior Tyler Preston plays for the King's Way lacrosse team. He was recently named state player of the week.

Tyler Preston has had a knack for winning faceoffs since his freshman season with the King’s Way Christian boys lacrosse team.

This spring, Preston is downright dominant, winning close to 90 percent of his faceoffs. But the Prairie High School senior has become much more than a specialist for a King’s Way team that sits atop its division at the top level of the Washington High School Boys Lacrosse Association.

Preston has 12 goals and nine assists through six league games, third on King’s Way in scoring. One of four team captains, he leads the team with 77 ground balls, second most in the state and a testament to his face-off prowess.

One of the goals scored by Preston was a game-winner in the closing seconds. He was one of the first players honored this season as a statewide lacrosse player of the week.

“I was surprised to win it,” Preston said of that award.

He is less surprised by the Knights’ early-season success. Preston is one of 10 seniors on the team, most of them are in their fourth year of varsity play. It is also the program’s third season playing in the top division of varsity lacrosse in Washington.

“Our team is definitely used to the faster pace” than it was when it made the jump from Division II to Division I in 2010.

Experience is paying off in many ways, according to head coach Dave Holler.

“We’re getting a lot of people involved in scoring,” Holler said.

Sharing the load has improved the King’s Way offense. Holler and Preston both credit new offensive coordinator, former Johns Hopkins University player Josh Peck, for diversifying the attack.

On Saturday King’s Way visits Mercer Island High School, the team right behind it in the standings. The season continues through May 12, and is followed by playoffs. King’s Way (6-2 overall, 6-0 in league play) has four home games remaining. The next home game, played at Columbia River High School, is on April 20.

Holler said Preston’s growth reflects that of the whole King’s Way team. Unlike recent King’s Way clubs, this roster is loaded with juniors and seniors, Holler noted.

“Tyler has developed leaps and bounds,” Holler said. “He’s a true student of the game. He takes everything he is taught and really works on his game.”

Preston plans to play lacrosse for the club team at Western Oregon University. He said he became interested in lacrosse after watching the Portland LumberJax play. That professional indoor lacrosse team played in Portland for four seasons and moved to Everett following the 2009 season.

The King’s Way program started as a youth club in 2005. The high school program began in the spring 2008, attracting players from around Southwest Washington. King’s Way remains the only high school boys lacrosse team in Clark County that competes in the Washington state league, so its roster includes players from around the county.

A new club is in the process of forming for boys in the Evergreen School District. Holler, who is in his sixth season as the King’s Way head coach, said he hoped there would be more teams in the area by now. He cited the crunch for field space and the cost of getting started in the sport as two reasons its growth has not come faster.

But, as Preston’s recent player of the week honor indicates, those challenges have not kept King’s Way from making its presence felt around the state.