No Doubt in La Center: Wildcats keep journey going in 1A state playoffs

Injury sidelines Honore, but his spark has lifted La Center to semifinals

By Meg Wochnick, Columbian staff writer

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If you haven’t met Evan Honore, a math wiz who enjoys light-hearted humor and also is La Center’s top receiver and leader in tackles and interceptions at free safety, his vibrant and positive personality transforms into an electrifying, no-fear attitude once game time arrives.

One thing he isn’t, though, is superstitious.

But there is a specific reason why the Wildcats’ senior hasn’t cut his overgrown bleach-blonde hair, reverting back to the natural, short dark-brown look he’s had up until now — with the exception of these past six months — when he and teammate Wyatt Dodson colored their hair on a whim back in June.

“It holds too many memories,” Honore said.

The latest chapter in the memory-filled season for the Wildcats came last Saturday in the now-famous triple-overtime Class 1A state quarterfinal victory. The 41-35 win over Cascade Christian was capped courtesy of the defense when Honore, Jackson Leslie and Tanner Dreyer stopped Cougars running back Madden Tobeck from scoring his third overtime touchdown at the half-yard line on fourth-and-goal.

That sealed the win to send La Center back to the state semifinals where La Center (10-2) faces Meridian (12-0) at 4 p.m. Saturday at Bellingham’s Civic Stadium.

Unfortuately for La Center, Honore won’t be in pads Saturday as the team learned late this week X-rays of his back revealed two spinal fractures from Saturday’s 3-hour, 10-minute wear-and-tear.

Even when looking at the tape of the final play days later against Cascade Christian, Honore calls the moment overwhelming and yes, even wild.

They believed even when La Center turned the ball over inside the 5-yard line twice in its first three possessions to start the game, even when Cascade Christian rallied twice in the final 3 minutes of regulation, and even in double overtime when the Cougars blocked the potential game-winning field goal to send the game into triple overtime.

“We didn’t doubt each other for one moment we were going to lose that game,” Honore said.

“We’re all here for the journey.”

And that journey continues Saturday in Bellingham. The Wildcats are in the state semifinals for the second straight season, which is a program first. Another program first should the Wildcats beat an undefeated Meridian team is playing for its first state championship Dec. 2.

For Honore, he first caught glimpses of what La Center football was all about when he and parents and two siblings moved to town as a fourth grader. You could’ve fooled him for NFL stars competing in the 1A Trico League.

“I thought they were the coolest, biggest people alive,” he said. “I thought maybe I can be them one day.”

Speaking of the NFL, Wildcats coach John Lambert calls Honore the team’s version of Seattle Seahawks safety Earl Thomas; his eight interceptions is a team-high, as well on offense, Honore’s 620 yards and six touchdowns as a sure-handed receiver.

At a modest 5-foot-7 and 155 pounds, Honore fits the bill of a player plays bigger than his size, and Lambert gives credit to the energy and explosion Honore has on contact. Sometimes you can teach it, he said; others, you can try to bring it out of them.

With Honore, it’s a natural gift.

“There’s a certain amount of toughness and fearlessness,” Lambert said of the 1A Trico League’s co-defensive player of the year. “In football, you have to be successful to have a little bit of that.”

Said Honore: “If you prepare yourself, then you won’t have any problems dealing with your size.”

That no-fear drive, too, he said comes from playing every down like it’s his last because he doesn’t know when his last will be.

For Honore and the Wildcats, last Saturday was the senior’s final high school game. Missing what will be his first game of 2017 isn’t the memory Honore wants for this weekend, but as one of 23 seniors, he knows they’re ready to take the next step and make history again.

And, make another historic memory.

“We’re not playing for our team,” he said, “we’re playing for all of La Center,” he said.