Mount Baker High School’s Waylon Kentner made Class 1A all-state at tight end last season as a junior, but that hasn’t lessened his love for playing defense for the Mountaineers.
Kentner, who constantly challenges himself to be better, has a new goal.
“Now I want to make all-state on both sides,” he said.
His statement was far from boastful. In fact, he figures such a lofty goal can only improve his team’s chances to earn the Mountaineers’ eighth consecutive state playoff berth.
The 6-foot-2, 194-pound Kentner, a linebacker who made All-Northwest Conference 1A on both sides of the ball, essentially can play anywhere he’s needed on defense.
“I have to be flexible,” he said. “I love studying film to see how I can help. I just enjoy the challenge of being as good as I can be.”
He was among the standouts as Mount Baker played one of its toughest non-league schedules, emerging with wins over 2A Lynden and Sehome and 1A power Leavenworth Cascade while allowing a combined three touchdowns.
Baker followed with its best defensive performance, yet, in the Mountaineers’ 24-8 Week 4 win over Lynden Christian in an NWC Class 1A opener, in which Kentner helped lead the charge.
Kentner already has achieved one dream — last season, he caught a 29-yard touchdown pass from his older brother, former Baker standout Michael Kentner, on a trick play to help make the difference in Baker’s 20-13 win over Lynden Christian.
He says only one thing could be better: The chance to play for a state title.
“Waylon is just a tough kid who really loves to play,” Baker coach Ron Lepper said while praising Kentner’s work ethic and leadership. “He doesn’t let things get to him. He enjoys his teammates. He probably is a little better on defense. He’s a coachable kid.”
Kentner started at linebacker as a sophomore, so he’s built a reputation for defensive excellence, notwithstanding his all-state honors at tight end.
“When I was a freshman, I was inspired greatly by (all-state tight end/defensive standout) T.J. Bass when he was a senior,” Kentner said. “He went to Butte Community College (in Northern California), and now he’s hoping to enroll at Oregon and play there.”
All-state honor surprised the tight end
Now it’s Kentner who is inspiring his younger teammates.
Playing on a team that ran far more than it passed, Kentner scored five touchdowns last season, including that unforgettable throw from his brother.
“No way I thought that would ever happen,” he said.
Baker went on to finish 3-3 in the league, splitting with each of the other three teams, and 8-5 overall before losing to Royal in the state quarterfinals.
Kentner acknowledges he did not think about honors last season, though he figured he had a good chance to receive league recognition.
“I really was surprised to be all-state,” he said. “We (cornerback Kaleb Bass and linebacker Jay Allen) learned about it while we were traveling on a bus.”
Making it even more surprising, it was Kentner’s first year as an offensive starter, though he volunteered to play offensive tackle in seventh and eight grade.
“I’m focused on blocking at tight end,” he said, because Baker is still primarily a running team. “I feel I can get way better. And I really like our offensive line. They’re all good players.”
Week 6 schedule
▪ Lummi at Tahola, 5 p.m.
▪ Nooksack Valley at Mount Baker, 7 p.m.
▪ Lynden Christian at Meridian, 7 p.m.
▪ Lynden at Burlington-Edison, 7 p.m.
▪ Cedarcrest vs. Sehome at Civic Stadium, 7 p.m.
▪ Bellingham at Anacortes, 7 p.m.
▪ Sedro-Woolley at Blaine, 7 p.m.
▪ Ferndale vs. Squalicum at Civic Stadium, 7 p.m.