It’s not often La Center isn’t atop the 1A Trico League. For just the second time in the past nine seasons, the Wildcats were dethroned, as Stevenson ran the table last season to take the league crown. The Wildcats are eager to make that a one-year hiatus, and with the bulk of their starting roster returning, enter the 2019 season as Trico favorites.
“Stevenson deserved to win last year based on how they did, but we felt like the much better team,” La Center coach John Lambert said. “Our guys can see the progress we made throughout the year and are ready to really say, ‘Hey, this is the expectation.’ ”
The Wildcats being knocked off their perch and Stevenson graduating its biggest stars has given hope to the rest of the league.
King’s Way Christian finished 0-5 in league play last season, but have title aspirations now with quarterback Kemper Shrock (1,700 yards, 20 touchdowns) and his top targets — Bryce Dodge (500 yards, seven touchdowns) and Bryson Metz (750 yards, eight touchdowns) — returning.
“The guys are tired of football being a third-tier sport at King’s Way,” second-year coach Brian Rodriguez said.
Castle Rock is in a similar boat with several of its young skill players back, a year older and a year stronger. Wyatt Partridge ran for 1,000 yards and 14 touchdowns last season and Landon Gardner returns as a terror on the defensive line.
Columbia-White Salmon returns three all-league linemen and its size up front should keep the Bruins in a race for a playoff spot. Stevenson, too, will be eyeing a postseason spot despite graduating league MVP Lincoln Krog and offensive player of the year Isaac Hoidal. Seton Catholic, now under the guidance of Dan Chase, has a surprising 28 players out, its highest total since the team began in 2011. Luke Pitzer makes the transition to quarterback for the Cougars, who already forfeited their Week 7 matchup with La Center.
1. La Center: John Lambert will have the Wildcats’ engine roaring again.
2. Castle Rock: The new wave of talented Rocket athletes has arrived.
3. Columbia-White Salmon: Size up front always a recipe for success.
4. King’s Way Christian: Consistency will be good for the Knights.
5. Stevenson: Replacing Isaac Hoidal and Lincoln Krog is no easy feat.
6. Seton Catholic: A surprise record turnout has Cougars hopes high.
Oct. 11 — Stevenson vs. La Center, 7 p.m. at La Center High School
Oct. 18 — King’s Way Christian vs. Columbia-White Salmon, 7 p.m. at Columbia High School
Nov. 1 — La Center vs. Castle Rock, 7 p.m. at Castle Rock High SChool