Read about other local teams in the Trico League at the bottom of this story.
LA CENTER -- There are 18 seniors on the La Center football team.
Many of them have played more football than Levi Krout.
But few of them bring more passion to the field than the senior lineman who has loved football for as long as he can remember.
"Ever since I was a little boy growing up I wanted to be on the football field competing with everybody," Krout said.
His parents didn't want him starting football young, so it wasn't until seventh grade that he first put on pads to play the game. Maybe that's why the La Center High School senior doesn't like to slow down when he's on the field.
"I just love getting after it," he said.
At 6-foot-2, 220 pounds, Krout gets after it on the offensive and defensive lines for La Center. This season, his fourth contributing for the Wildcats, his primary positions will be right tackle and defensive end.
It's all about the energy, he said. Energy he gets from teammates who are friends he's grown up alongside; energy that comes from playing for a small town that loves its Wildcats.
Approaching his senior season, Krout said he started to really appreciate how special high school football is -- especially facing challenges alongside friends -- during a summer team camp at Linfield College.
"I had an epiphany," Krout said. "I just felt, 'Wow, this is remarkable.' "
La Center has become a consistent winner, a fact that would seem remarkable to those who followed the program prior to its first playoff appearance in 2001. The Wildcats made the Class 1A quarterfinals last season, their eighth state playoff berth over 12 seasons.
Krout isn't old enough to remember when La Center struggled to win a game or two in most seasons. But he knows why the Wildcats win consistently now.
"Everything we do is as a family," Krout said.
It's a lesson he learned on his first day in pads as a freshman. He remembers worrying he would be targeted by seniors looking to pick on the new guys. Instead, the older players picked up the younger guys.
Now Krout is on the other end of that relationship, helping younger players and creating the kind of legacy that coach John Lambert wants all La Center players to strive for.
That's the kind of commitment to team, and to every day paying attention to the little details that build winners, exhibited by players throughout this group of Wildcat seniors, Lambert said.
That togetherness pays off when challenges arise, as they do for any team over the course of a season. Nowhere is togetherness more significant than for the tight-knit group that plays on the offensive and defensive lines, Krout said.
"We might be a smaller line, but we always keep our spirits up and deal with adversity," Krout said.
Krout doesn't mind the anonymity of playing in the trenches. He said the physical and mental challenges faced on every play bring plenty of satisfaction.
One play in last season's playoff win over Meridian provides an example. Early in the third quarter, a halftime adjustment to the blocking scheme produced a momentum-changing play.
"Everything clicked. That moment I'll always cherish because we believed in each other and it worked 100 percent," Krout said.
Krout is 100-percent committed to making the most of his senior season -- not only for himself, but for his football family and for the larger La Center community.
"As a senior, I feel it's my time to step up," Krout said. "Take advantage of every situation. Don't take a single play for granted."
La Center Wildcats
Coach: John Lambert, 15th season.
2012 record: 11-1, 8-0 1A Trico, lost in state quarterfinals.
Key players: Connor Fulton, sr. rb/lb; Alex Meza, sr., ol/lb; Matt Braaten, sr., E/DB; Levi Krout, sr., ol/dl; Max Hiller jr., rb/de; Wyatt Aguirre, jr. qb/db; Andrew Gustafson, sr., ol/dl; Connor House, sr., ol/dl; Connor Wonderly, sr., e/db; Isaiah Block, e/lb.
Season outlook: With 18 seniors, the Wildcats return a strong nucleus from the 2012 Trico League championship team that reached the state quarterfinals. Alex meza, Levi Krout, Andrew Gustafson and Connor House are senior linemen who will block for all-league back Connor Fulton. The Trico title could again come down to the game against Woodland. Coach Lambert enters the season with 98 wins at La Center.
Sept. 6 at Ilwaco*
Sept. 13 Stevenson*
Sept. 20 Kalama*
Sept. 27 at Castle Rock*
Oct. 4 at White Salmon*
Oct. 11 at Tenino
Oct. 18 Seton Catholic*
Oct. 25 at Toledo*
Nov. 1 Woodland*
- -- Trico League game
Home games played at La Center Middle School
Seton Catholic Cougars
Coach: Dan Chase, 3rd season.
2012 record: 1-8, 1-7 1A Trico.
Key players: Will Noce-Sheldon, jr., qb; C.J. Farrell, jr. lb; Chris O'Connor, sr., lb; Justin James, sr. wr; James Henkles, jr., dl; Craig Boyce, jr., db; K.J. Santos, jr. lb; Thomas Martin, jr., wr; Andres Radillo, jr., ol.
Season outlook: At last count Seton Catholic's enrollment of about 150 makes it the smallest school in Washington playing 11-man football. This will be the second varsity season for the school. A strong junior class will be counted on as the Cougars have only two seniors. One of them, Chris O'Connor, was a second-team all-league linebacker in 2012. A total of 15 freshmen, 60 percent of the freshman boys at Seton, turned out for football.
Sept. 6 at Castle Rock*
Sept. 14 Ilwaco*
Sept. 20 at Woodland*
Sept. 28 Stevenson*
Oct. 4 Toledo*
Oct. 11 White Salmon*
Oct. 18 at La Center*
Oct. 25 at Kalama*
Nov. 1 Rainier
- -- Trico League game
Home games played at Doc Harris Stadium
Coach: David Waymire, third season.
2012 record: 3-5, 3-5 1A Trico.
Key players: Brandon VanPelt, sr., qb; Taylor Peppiatt, sr., ol/dl; Jalen Waymire, sr., ol/dl; Evan Wiebe, sr., ol/dl; Josh Anderson, jr., rb.Season outlook: With more experience on the roster than in Waymire's first two seasons -- VanPelt is a third-year QB and Wiebe was a second-team all-Trico lineman, the coach said the Bulldogs should be more competitive this season.
Sept. 6 Toledo*
Sept. 13 at La Center*
Sept. 20 Castle Rock*
Sept. 28 at Seton Catholic*
Oct. 4 Kalama*
Oct. 11 Ilwaco*
Oct. 18 Woodland*
Oct. 25 at Rochester
Nov. 1 at White Salmon*
- -- Trico League game
Home games played at Stevenson HS
Coach: Mark Greenleaf, 11th season.
2012 record: 8-3, 7-1, 1A Trico.
Key players: Hunter Huddleston, sr., qb/lb; Eli Whitmire, jr. rb/lb; Kyle Hendrix, sr., te/lb; Vince Nigro, sr. wr/db; Trevor Huddleston, jr. wr/db; Troy Flanagan, jr., wr-rb-qb/db; Kollten Snyder, sr., rb/fs; Logan Pioer, sr., wr/fs; Brian Preston, sr., ol/dl; Levi Leach, sr. rb/lb.
Season outlook: The Beavers are loaded with speed and with depth at the skill positions and should again battle La Center for the Trico League championship.
The offense is led by three returning all-league first-teamers in dual-threat quarterback Hunter Huddleston, senior tight end Kyle Hendrix and junior running back Eli Whitmire.
Sept. 6 at Kalama*
Sept. 13 Castle Rock*
Sept. 20 Seton Catholic*
Sept. 27 at Montesano
Oct. 4 at Ilwaco*
Oct. 11 Toledo*
Oct. 18 at Stevenson*
Oct. 25 White Salmon*
Nov. 1 at La Center
*-- Trico League game
Home games played at Woodland HS
Rest of the Trico League
Season outlook: On paper, the Trico League looks like it could be a repeat of last season, when La Center (8-0) and Woodland (7-1) battled for the title. Castle Rock (6-2) graduated the core of its third-place team, but has a tradition of success. White Salmon, Toledo and Stevenson figure to battle for fourth place.
Class 1B independent
KING'S WAY CHRISTIAN: Playing eight-man football, the Knights will compete as an independent this season. Senior quarterback Jay Becker ran and threw for a total of 64 -- yes, 64 -- touchdowns as a junior. Senior lineman Brad Benton was all-league for two seasons in the 1B Columbia Valley League. Sophomore tight end and linebacker Preston Danberg looks to be an impact player.