There may be no player in the Northwest Conference more anxious for his gridiron return than Squalicum senior linebacker Creighton Kaui.
Squalicum’s impressive run to the Class 2A State Playoff quarterfinals is now history, and while Kaui was along for the ride, he didn’t get to make the impact he wanted.
“It was tough to watch my teammates have so much success without me,” Kaui said, “but at the same time I was extremely happy for them because they earned it, and I was really happy to watch them go so far. I’m just happy to get back this year.”
Kaui helped the Storm improve to 2-0 last season with wins against Bellingham and Meridian, but a gruesome Week 3 injury against Lynden derailed the senior’s junior season.
“My leg just snapped in half,” Kaui explained. “I broke the fibula and tib.”
Kaui was on the field for more than 20 minutes before being carted off to a loud applause.
As brutal as Kaui’s injury was, in some ways he could be thankful his injury didn’t create a more prolonged rehab. He returned to the basketball team for the end of the season about three months after sustaining the injury to his right leg.
He was missed last season, but he’ll certainly give Squalicum a major boost to its linebacking corps — arguably one of the league’s best groups.
“It was really fun,” Kaui said of his first day on the practice field this fall. “After coming off the injury it’s just fun to play with those guys again.”
Kaui owns prototypical speed, power and athleticism that allows him to succeed as a linebacker, and he’ll give his defense a great stopper who can play in coverage, too.
As for what his plans are during his bounce-back year? Kaui just wants a piece of what his teammates achieved a season a go.
“I just like to win,” Kaui said when asked his personal goals, “so I got to do whatever I got to do to help the team get a W at the end of the day.”
Top linebackers to watch
1. Taylor Bellefuille, Ferndale
Bellefuille has established himself as a true difference-maker on the defensive side of the ball. A first-team 2A/3A All-NWC selection last fall, he showed speed, strength and overall tackling ability each Friday night.
2. Jensen Mayberry, Lynden
Trent Postma may have garnered more attention last season, but no doubt about it, Mayberry was a force in the middle, and with another year of offseason training, expect big things out of him this fall.
3. Kolten Zender, Mount Baker
Zender was an integral piece of the Mountaineers’ strong defense last season, earning a first-team 1A All-NWC selection.