La Center to meet Mount Baker once again

Wildcats will attempt to eliminate familiar foe for second straight season

The La Center Wildcats are back in the state playoffs and are hoping to make another run to the final four. At least.

Not an easy task this week, though. It’s Mount Baker. At least the Wildcats are familiar with Mount Baker.

Hey, don’t I know you?

La Center beat Mount Baker last year 25-13 in the quarterfinals. Any win to get to the state semifinals is a big win. This one, though, was a bit more special for the Wildcats. Prior to the 2016, it was Mount Baker ending La Center’s season this decade.

In 2013, Mount Baker won the quarterfinal matchup in a game produced 96 points.

In 2012, Mount Baker beat La Center 24-9 in the quarterfinals.

La Center is hoping to even up its playoff record with Mount Baker this decade. Although it seems weird that this is a first-round matchup and not in the quarterfinals.

If you insist on going back into the history books, La Center actually has a winning record over Mount Baker in the state playoffs. La Center beat Mount Baker in the first round in 2003 and again in 2004, according to WIAA archives.

What does the coach think?

La Center coach John Lambert, as noted above, has seen plenty of Mount Baker teams.

“The head coach, Ron Lepper, and his assistants do just a wonderful job of preparing their kids,” Lambert said. “They play disciplined football. They play really hard. Give tremendous effort. And they are tough kids. It’s the system and culture he created there. Same thing in 2003. I expect the same thing in 2017.”

Week 10 victory:

La Center took care of business in Week 10, topping Forks 49-12 in a Class 2A District 4 playoff to advance to state.

It was a quick start for the Wildcats, who scored on their first two possessions. But it was not a done deal just then.

Forks forced a punt, then drove the field for its only touchdown of the game to cut the deficit to eight points at 14-6.

A few minutes later, Forks recovered a La Center fumble. So yes, well into the second quarter, this matchup could have been tied. Forks had that opportunity.

La Center got a three-and-out on defense. Forks punted. La Center scored on the next drive, and the rout was on from there. La Center scored the next 35 points.

No. 5 making plays:

Just a quick glance at the video from this game, I noticed Jackson Leslie on completely different plays, making an impact.

Jackson Leslie (5) was a standout performer for La Center in the Wildcats win over Forks last week. Photo by Mike Schultz
Jackson Leslie (5) was a standout performer for La Center in the Wildcats win over Forks last week. Photo by Mike Schultz

On one play, he was blocking downfield. The defender fell on his back, and Leslie flattened him.

The play was not done, though. Leslie got back up and tried to find another player to block.

Later in the half, it was Leslie’s text-book tackle that led to the three-and-out for Forks, when Forks had the ball trailing by one touchdown.

POY should be ready:

Running back Wyatt Dodson, who was recently voted the Trico League’s offensive player of the year, did not play in Week 10. Coach John Lambert said his back needed another week to get fully healthy in hopes of a long playoff run.

Lambert said he expects Dodson to play against Mount Baker.

Predictions:

Cascadia Preps is a new site this year with awesome statewide coverage of high school football. Two humans there as well as the ScoreCzar’s computer have made their final four predictions.

Don’t look for La Center in any of the final four predictions there. But if you believe La Center will be in the final four, you can take a look to see who to mock. But please remember, it’s all in fun. It’s football. Don’t get mad if your team is not predicted to do well. Just enjoy it if your team does perform better than somebody else thought it would.

Go here: www.cascadiapreps.com

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About The Author

Paul Valencia joins ClarkCountyToday.com after more than two decades of newspaper experience. He became the face of high school sports coverage in Clark County during his 17 years at The Columbian. Before moving to Vancouver, Paul worked at Oregon daily newspapers in Pendleton, Roseburg, and Salem. A graduate of David Douglas High School in Portland, Paul enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving three years as a soldier/journalist. He and his wife Jenny recently celebrated their 20th anniversary. They have a son who has a passion for karate and Minecraft. Paul’s hobbies include: Watching the Raiders play football, reading about the Raiders playing football, and waiting to watch and read about the Raiders playing football.

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