State playoff first-round football preview: La Center vs. Cascade Christian
When, where: 7 p.m. Saturday at Sunset Chev Stadum, Sumner (1A state playoff). Radio: None.
Last meeting: First meeting.
At stake: Berth in state quarterfinals against Toledo/Meridan winner
CASCADE CHRISTIAN (7-2)
Last week: beat Orting 42-14 on Oct. 28.
Players to watch: QB Jaelin Goldsmith, RB Alex Milton, RB Hunter Austin.
Notes: The Cougars from Puyallup have won five consecutive Nisqually League championships. … The Cougars are the defending 1A state champion and have reached the state title game the last three seasons. They’ve reached the semifinals four years in a row. … The Cougars are ranked No. 5 by the Tacoma News-Tribune. Their losses are to Franklin Pierce, a ranked 2A team, and to Cedar Park Christian. … Cascade received an automatic berth to state, so the Cougars haven’t played in two weeks. … They are led by a freshman quarterback.
LA CENTER (8-2)
Last week: beat Tenino 35-7 in 1A district playoff game.
Players to watch: QB Dylan King (9-14-184 passing, 4 TDs); RB Mike Polyakov (136-1072 rushing, 11 TDs); RB Patrick Mayolo (117-676 rushing, 11 TDs).
Notes: Defense has powered the Wildcats’ six-game winning streak. La Center has not allowed an opponent to score more than 8 points in any of those six wins, winning by average score of 36-7. … La Center has not had to rely on its passing game since King replaced Jake Johnson as starting QB. However, four of King’s nine completions have gone for TDs. … La Center has not won a state playoff game since 2004.
Bottom line: They say defense wins championships. La Center certainly hopes that true because the Cougars know a thing or two about what it takes to win a championship.
What the Score Czar says: Scoreczar.com is a website run by Vancouver’s Scott Odiorne that uses computer ranking based points scored, points allowed, strength of schedule and other factors. The Score Czar’s predicted score is Cascade Christian 28, La Center 21. Class 1A games are so hard to pick, so we’ll glad defer to the computer.
Columbian’s pick: Cascade Christian.
Fans’ pick: La Center (100 percent)