High School Football

Who’s the bigger, badder bully? Mount Baker and La Center ready to decide it again

Mount Baker running back Carson Engholm sweeps past the Lynden Christian defensive line Sept. 29. The Mountaineers travel to face La Center in the first round of the Class 1A state playoffs Friday.
Mount Baker running back Carson Engholm sweeps past the Lynden Christian defensive line Sept. 29. The Mountaineers travel to face La Center in the first round of the Class 1A state playoffs Friday. For The Bellingham Herald

Class 1A State Football Playoffs first round Mount Baker at La Center

Time: 7 p.m. Friday

Site: Woodland High School

What’s at stake: Winner moves on to the 1A state quarterfinals and will travel to face Nooksack Valley or Cascade Christian Nov. 17 or 18. The loser is eliminated.

Previous state playoff meetings: Mount Baker won a 2012 quarterfinal 24-9 and a 2013 quarterfinal 63-33; La Center won a 2003 first-round meeting 19-13, a 2004 first-round game 24-8 and a 2016 quarterfinal 25-13.

1109 FOOT Baker

SCOUTING THE MOUNTAINEERS

Coach: Ron Lepper (22nd season)

Seed: Northwest District No. 2

State appearances (last): 14 (2016)

State playoff record: 12-14

State titles: None

After finishing second in the 1A NWC, the Mountaineers dispatched with King’s 45-15 in the district playoffs. Kaleb Bass had his biggest night of the year, passing for 186 yards and three TDs and rushing for another score. Thomas Barbo was his top target with six catches for 150 yards and two TDs, though Junior Camacho also caught a scoring toss. As you would expect, Carson Engholm (106 yards, 1 TD) and Carson Brandland (96 yards) had big nights carrying the ball. Engholm leads the team with 1,030 yards and 19 TDs on the ground, while Brandland has 714 yards and seven scores. The Mountaineer defense limited the Knights to 187 yards of offense and intercepted two passes.

SCOUTING THE WILDCATS

Coach: John Lambert (19th season)

Seed: Southwest District No. 2

State appearances (last): 11 (2016)

State playoff record: 7-11

State titles: None

After winning the Trico 1A League title, La Center beat Forks 49-12 Friday in the Southwest District playoffs to advance to state. Tanner Dreyer, who was filling in for the injured Wyatt Dodson and Collin Namanny, rushed for 160 yards, including a 68-yard TD. Dodson and Namanny are expected to return this week. Evan Honore, Colton Dolezal and Hayden Williamson also had TD runs for the Wildcats. La Center also got two touchdowns from its defense, which had back-to-back shutouts entering the district playoffs. The Wildcats also own a 48-20 win at Burlington-Edison on Oct. 13.

Key to the game: As was the case when they met three of the past five years in the state playoffs, these two teams are mirror images of each other – hard-nosed, physical programs that like to line up and exert their will on you with their running game. Whichever team is the bigger, badder bully will likely move on to the quarterfinals.

Prediction: La Center 24-21.

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