LA CENTER — There was a lot at stake Friday night at La Center — the Trico League championship and the chance to avoid facing Eatonville in the district playoffs next week.
But really needed one bit of motivation: Beat Castle Rock.
“Castle Rock talks a lot of smack for being 0-4 (against La Center) the last four years, so this feels pretty good,” La Center senior lineman Clayton Muffett said.
The Wildcats let their defense do their smacking, shutting out the Rockets 31-0.
The Wildcats held the Rockets’ potent rushing attack to 51 net yards on 38 carries.
“We prepared really well, and I think everyone was just locked in on every single play, ready to roll,” Muffett said.
The Rockets didn’t get into the red zone until the fourth quarter when they were down 31-0. And even then, the Wildcats would not let them score.
“I’m happy we shut them out,” coach John Lambert said. “I think that was one of our goals coming in, to limit what they did. … They fought right to the end.”
The offense took a while to get going, as Castle Rock put a focus on stopping La Center’s running attack.
But the Wildcats adjusted as Tru Feldman hit Jalen Ward in space on a screen pass and the junior raced 50 yards for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead.
Ben Rembisz’s 23-yard field goal gave La Center a 10-0 lead at halftime that felt even more comfortable given the way the defense was playing.
Levi Giles gave La Center more breathing room by returning the second-half kickoff 89 yards for a touchdown and a 17-0 lead.
“And Levi didn’t get touched,” Lambert said. “We blocked really well. It was clean blocking. We did a perfect job on that. … It set the tone for the second half.”
After the defense gave the Wildcats the ball back, Feldman hit Davari Grauer on a quick slant, and Grauer went 80 yards for a 24-0 lead.
Giles capped the night with a diving 29-yard touchdown pass to open the fourth quarter.
With a fourth consecutive league title in hand — all capped with a clinching win over Castle Rock — the Wildcats (8-1) turn their attention to hosting Hoquiam on Friday in the district playoffs.
“We said it’s a new season,” Lambert said. “It’s playoff season. We want to play for another five weeks. It’s a journey still, but it’s a whole new season. And I’m just really proud of these guys.”
Now the Wildcats’ defense will just work on getting better, said senior lineman Adam White, who recorded three tackles for losses.
“We need to turn up the aggression a little bit more,” White said.
Castle Rock (7-2) will host Eatonville in the district playoffs on Friday.
LA CENTER 31, CASTLE ROCK 0
C. Rock 0 0 0 0—0
La Center 7 3 14 7—31
LC — Jalen Ward 50 pass from Tru Feldman (Ben Rembisz kick)
LC — Ben Rembisz 23 FG
LC — Levi Giles 89 kickoff return (Rembisz kick)
LC — Davari Grauer 80 pass from Feldman (Rembisz kick)
LC — Giles 29 pass from Feldman (Rembisz kick)
RUSHING — Castle Rock: Stephen Ibsen 24-68, Lane Partridge 4-17, Ian Burton 1-9, Owen Langdon 3-(-5), Trevor Rogen 6-(-38). La Center: Jalen Ward 9-76, Lane Roberts 5-23, Levi Giles 1-1, Tru Feldman 4-(-13).
PASSING — Castle Rock: Trevor Rogen 12-26-0-111, Stephen Ibsen 5-7-0-31. La Center: Tru Feldman 6-17-0-227.
RECEIVING — Castle Rock: Lane Partridge 9-89, Owen Langdon 5-30, Chase Rusher 1-8, Nolan Williams 2-15. La Center: Jalen Ward 1-50, Austin Nixon 1-16, Davari Grauer 2-87, Parker McKinney 1-45, Levi Giles 1-29.