La Center football training camp report

La Center Wildcats Training Camp report

Coach: John Lambert, 12th season.
2009 record: 6-5 (4-1 Trico).

With 13 seniors, many of them entering their third year on varsity, the Wildcats are way ahead of where they were at the beginning of the season in 2009. Not that the defending Trico League champions are getting ahead of themselves when it comes to lofty expectations.

“I’m not going to make any predictions,” senior running back and linebacker Seth Baxter said. “We’ll just go out there and play our best and see how it goes.”

Coach John Lambert likes the way training camp went. He was especially pleased with a recent scrimmage.

“We had 22 good players (two full 11-on-11 teams) and it was a very competitive scrimmage,” Lambert said. “We’re trying to create as much competition as possible. And it’s showing in practice.”

Baxter is one of five running backs who will play this season, four of them seniors. Baxter is entering his fourth season of varsity football.

“Our depth in our backfield is pretty amazing,” senior quarterback Nick Deotsch said.

It’s more than just depth that has Lambert excited about his running backs.
Asked what has most pleased him through training camp, Lambert said, “I think the aggressive running style of our running backs. We really emphasize running hard and physical with the knees up.”

Deotsch was a running back until last season, when he switched to fill the need for a quarterback. He said he’s attended Greg Barton’s quarterback camps over the last two summers, and is much more comfortable with the fundamentals of the position.

Lambert compares this group of seniors with his strong 2004 team. The Wildcats had similar promise two years ago but lost several team leaders to rules violations before the first game. That development allowed some of the current seniors to play varsity as sophomores. It is also a lesson they remind each other about all the time.

“That (2008) team, the potential was so there,” said Deotsch. “It really opened our eyes to the fact that mistakes can happen and you can (fall) from being this top team.
“We don’t want to be that team that could’ve been, we want to be the team that did it.”

Said Lambert, “These kids were around when that happened. Everybody understands what the consequences are. It was certainly a learning tool for everybody on the team, all the way down to the middle school.”

The continuity between the middle school and high school programs is one ingredient in La Center’s consistency. The popularity of the spread offense in high school football also might work in La Center’s favor.

“We’re a power running football team,” Lambert said. “That’s not the norm anymore. So it’s an advantage — as if it was 10 years ago and you ran the spread.”

Deotsch said he has dreamed of playing in a state playoff game at the Tacoma Dome since before grade school. This is his last year to make that dream happen.

“The year we have so many weapons, it’s really exciting,” the QB said.

League changes:
Ridgefield drops from Class 2A and Toledo, a 1A state playoff team in 2009, moves south into the Trico Division for 2010.

Lambert sees those teams, along with traditionally good teams at Castle Rock and Kalama and more experienced teams in Stevenson and White Salmon, as making the Trico more competitive. The top four teams will advance to the district playoffs, with the top team playing No. 4 from the Evergreen Division, and the No. 2 and No. 3 teams squaring off.

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