Days After Report: La Center, we wish you were here

If only …

… La Center could have won last week.

… the Wildcats were in the state semifinals.

… in the same building as Camas in the 4A semifinals.

… I could be covering a 10 a.m. game featuring La Center, and then a 1 p.m. game featuring Camas.

If that had happened, I’d have been the happiest reporter in the world.

Hey, don’t get me wrong. I’m still happy. I am in the Tacoma Dome today covering one semifinal game. Plus, the last two weeks, I did get to cover La Center and Camas on the same day.

But those who know me understand I never tire of football.

So, to the Wildcats, thanks for a great season. And thanks for letting me hang out with you on your playoff ride.

And, darn, I really wish you were here.

La Center is here: I did run into the mayor of La Center at the Tacoma Dome today. Wait, that wasn’t the mayor? Oh, that’s right. It was the football coach. John Lambert was taking in the Mount Baker-Montesano semifinal game. Lambert is a guy who loves football, too. Even though he had hoped to be on the sideline for this game, he still drove to Tacoma to hang out with his son and watch the games.

Refreshing point of view: All of us journalists and sports fans hear it all the time: Losing teams talking about what they could have done, should have done to win. It is refreshing to hear a coach and players just give credit to the other team.

That’s what the Wildcats did last week after Mount Baker beat them in the 1A quarterfinals. La Center took advantage of two Mount Baker miscues in the early going and jumped out to a 9-0 lead. However, the Mountaineers made very few mistakes the rest of the way and controlled the final three quarters.

It was not a lucky bounce. It was not a 50-50 contest. It was just a finely executed game by the Mountaineers.

After the game, Lambert and a couple of La Center players said as much. Sometimes, they said, the other team just plays better. That was one of the days.

For what it’s worth, those comments are appreciated. Professional athletes could take a cue from our high school sports heroes.

Fantastic career: In the four weeks leading up to the quarterfinals loss, the Wildcats won four games. That was more wins than this year’s seniors won in two seasons of middle school football.

Lineman Josh McNeal remembered that when he was a freshman, he was hoping the Wildcats could be a .500 team. That would be a success story after middle school.

Instead, the Wildcats went 11-1.

Now, there are plenty of high school football teams that improve. Middle school wins or losses do not translate directly into success or failure at high school. However, it can be more difficult to make a huge improvement at smaller schools. A lot less depth. A lot less personnel changes. The guys in middle school are often the same guys in high school.

So the La Center seniors went from winning two games in middle school to 11 wins in their final season.

“That’s quite an improvement,” Lambert said. “A great group of seniors.”

They finished one win away from the Tacoma Dome and the semifinals. They also get to say the went undefeated in the regular season, and they claimed the Trico League title.

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