Monday, January 17, 2022
Jan. 17, 2022

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La Center gives its all in 42-20 playoff loss to Montesano

Bulldogs pile up 272 yards rushing in 1A district victory

By , Columbian Assistant Sports Editor

WOODLAND – The season ended earlier than La Center hoped on Friday night. But coach John Lambert said his Wildcats gave everything they had and a little more.

“We had a freshman last week on Thursday got the tip of his finger cut off somehow,” Lambert said. “But he still played the next day. And this is a freshman. He put a big thing on it. That kind of stuff, it just makes you feel proud.”

After a solid start Friday, things went awry quickly as the Wildcats had no answer for the Montesano offense that ground up 272 yards rushing en route to a 42-20 win in the 1A district playoff at Woodland High School.

“Our kids played their hearts out, and we didn’t play like we wanted to,” Lambert said. “There were opportunities we had early that we didn’t take advantage of that I think would have put us in a better position. But you really have to give your hats off to Montesano, their staff and their kids. They played great.”

The night got off to a fast start for the Wildcats (6-3) when Levi Giles returned the opening kickoff 35 yards to midfield.

From there, La Center drove to the opening score with Jalen Ward catching a 10-yard touchdown pass from Darren Cepeda on fourth down to go up 6-0.

But Montesano responded by scoring on their first two drives. Quarterback Jayden McElravy hit Isaiah Pierce on touchdown passes of 40 and 35 yards to go up 14-6.

And that was before the Bulldogs really got their running game going. From there, the La Center defense just had no answer for Monte attack. The Bulldogs scored on their first four possessions, and the Wildcats’ offense just couldn’t keep up.

“We had four seniors starting today,” Lambert said. “I think this is a great opportunity for the younger guys to learn from this. See what you need to do to be better.”

Key players

Isaiah Pierce, Montesano: Pierce rushed for 192 yards on 22 carries and one touchdown and he caught three passes for 96 yards and two touchdowns.

Darren Cepeda, La Center: In the senior’s last game, he rushed for 75 yards and a touchdown, passed for 163 yards and two touchdowns and he recovered a fumble on defense.

Key moments

Trailing 21-6 in the second quarter, a bad snap led to a fumble by La Center, which Montesano recovered on the Wildcats’ 11. On Montesano’s next play, the Wildcats stripped the ball away from Pierce and pounced on the loose ball. But an inadvertent whistle nullified the fumble recovery and gave the ball back to the Bulldogs. On the next play, Pierce scored from the 4, putting Monte up 28-6.

Late in the game, Colby Hylton gave the Wildcats something to cheer about when he went up high to snatch a pass away from the Montesano defense back to complete a 77-yard touchdown play for La Center’s final score of the season.


“There were some calls that didn’t go our way. They could have made a difference early. But in the end, we just didn’t play well enough for that to matter,” Lambert said.


Monte 14 14 7 7–42

La Center 6 0 0 14–20

First quarter

LC — Jalen Ward 10 pass from Darren Cepeda (pass failed)

M — Isaiah Pierce 40 pass from Jayden McElravy (Mateo Sanchez kick)

M — Pierce 35 pass from McElravy (Sanchez kick)

Second quarter

M — Jared Whisenhunt 1 run (Sanchez kick)

M — Pierce 4 run (Sanchez kick)

Third quarter

M — Whisenhunt 2 run (Sanchez kick)

Fourth quarter

LC — Cepeda 13 run (pass failed)

M — Pierce 6 run (Sanchez kick)

LC — Colby Hylton 77 pass from Cepeda (Lane Roberts pass from Cepeda)


RUSHING — Montesano: Pierce 22-192, McElravy 9-48, Konnor Odekirk 1-11, Whisenhunt 8-27, Jacob Salstrom 3-8, Jaxson Whitson 2-(-10), team 2-(-4). La Center: Ward 15-93, Cepeda 14-75, Austin Nixson 2-11, Andrew Kysar 2-6, Dillon Barboza 1-(-10).

PASSING — Montesano: McElravy 5-8-0-113. La Center: Cepeda 9-24-1-163, Levi Giles 0-1-1-0.

RECEIVING — Montesano: Pierce 3-96, Caydon Lovell 1-7, Salstrom 1-10. La Center: Ward 1-10, Giles 3-25, David White 3-26, Tyler Normine 1-25, Hylton 1-77.