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Wednesday, February 28, 2024
Feb. 28, 2024

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Few but mighty, La Center improves to 6-0 with 33-19 win over Mount Baker

Wildcats put their conditioning to the test to run for 301 yards in non-league win

By , Columbian Assistant Sports Editor
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LA CENTER — The La Center Wildcats may be few, but they showed on Saturday afternoon, they are mighty.

“We don’t have much depth,” senior lineman Ryan Kawalek said. “But the depth we have, they are a bunch of dogs. They got out there and play. They go out and play football, baby.”

Kawalek and the rest of the La Center offensive line led the way for 301 rushing yards as the Wildcats wore down Mount Baker 33-19 in a non-league game Saturday.

La Center coach John Lambert said the Wildcats’ roster is as small as it’s been in his 24 seasons as coach. So he was glad his team got put to the test on a Saturday afternoon that felt more like August than October.

“I’m glad it was like this because I wanted it to be difficult for our guys,” Lambert said. “I want them to have challenges. I wanted them to face adversities, which we did.”

Early on, everything was working for the Wildcats. The defense played well and the offense drove to touchdowns on its first two possessions for a 14-0 lead with 1:34 in the first quarter.

After Mount Baker scored quickly, the Wildcats responded with a big punt return by Houston Coyle that would set the stage for a 4-yard touchdown run by Coyle, as La Center looked in control with 20-6 halftime lead.

But Mount Baker responded in the third quarter to cut within 20-12. After the Wildcats’ second red-zone turnover of the game, the Mountaineers were driving with a chance to tie the game early in the fourth quarter.

Then Coyle stepped up on defense with an interception in the end zone. Isaac Chromey had back-to-back runs for 59 yards that set up Parker McKinney’s 25-yard touchdown reception to put the Wildcats back up 26-12 with 6:47 left

Wyatt Eiesland got another interception, and Jalen Ward’s 18-yard touchdown run helped seal the win.

“With no subs or anything, it’s just 11 guys out there on the field, and it’s all just a bond,” Coyle said. “We’re just a family. We’re closer than ever. The closest year by far.”

The Wildcats are now 6-0 with a big Trico League coming up next Friday at Seton Catholic, which is also 6-0.

“I think we have a pretty tough squad,” Lambert said. “We’ve really been hitting conditioning hard because of our depth the last few weeks. And it’s what (the players) want. There’s no grumbling. They know and they understand that it’s part of the process to be where we are.

“When you see that kind of focus and intensity from a team during conditioning … I think it’s emblematic of our team wanting to improve, wanting to get better and their toughness.”

LA CENTER 33, MOUNT BAKER 19

Mt. Baker 6 0 6 7—19

La Center 14 6 0 13—33

First quarter

LC — Houston Coyle 1 run (Nate Rembisz kick)

LC — Johnny Linstroth 4 pass from Coyle (Rembisz kick)

MB — Tanyen Staton 60 pass from Setoga Tigilau (kick failed)

Second quarter

LC — Coyle 4 run (kick failed)

Third quarter

MB — Staton 13 pass from Tigilau (kick failed)

Fourth quarter

LC — Parker McKinney 25 pass from Coyle (kick failed)

LC — Jalen Ward 18 run (Rembisz kick)

MB — Tigilau 1 run (Luis Zavala kick)

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING — Mt. Baker: Dylan Moe 10-50, Brady Bruland 11-25, Hayden Rosse 1-6, Setoga Tigilau 1-1. La Center: Jalen Ward 14-108, Kaden Emerson 9-93, Isaac Chromey 5-88, Houston Coyle 7-13, team 1-(-1).

PASSING — Mt. Baker: Tigilau 11-21-2-237. La Center: Houston Coyle 9-15-2-100.

RECEIVING — Mt. Baker: Hayden Rosse 4-103, Tanyen Staton 5-119, Caden Mosher 2-15. La Center: Johnny Linstroth 2-30, Austin Nixon 3-21, Parker McKinney 3-44, Jalen Ward 1-5.

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