Prep football preview: Connell (11-1) vs. La Center (11-1)



WHEN, WHERE: 4 p.m. Saturday at McKenzie Stadium, 2205 NE 138th Ave, Vancouver

INTERNET RADIO: Eli Sports Network

LAST WEEK: Connell beat Meridian 56-21; La Center beat Mount Baker 25-13.

GAME NOTES: Connell was the No. 2 team in the 1A South Central Athletic Conference East Division. This is Connell’s 12th trip to the state playoffs in the past 13 seasons and fourth in a row. The Eagles reached the state semifinals last season. They made three consecutive trips to the state title game in 2009-2011, winning two state titles. Connell reached the semifinals with playoff wins over Granger (56-0), Montesano (48-28) and Meridian. Connell has outscored opponents by an average of 50-13. Senior DL Steven Kroontje was the SCAC East defensive player of the year. He was also a first-team all-league receiver. Jax Whitby was a first-team RB. QB Brian Hawkins was a second-team pick. Hawkins passed for 193 yards and two TDs and rushed for 112 and 3 TDs last week vs. Meridian. Whitby rushed for 110 and two TDs as Connell built a 28-0 lead in the first quarter. The Eagles surrendered 417 passing yards to Meridian QB Simon Burkett but picked off three passes. Connell rolled up 608 yards on Montesano, with Whitby rushing for 200 and Hawkins passing for 265. Connell’s lone loss came on Oct. 14 to top-ranked Royal (28-21), which is also in the semifinals. Connell and La Center have no common opponents. La Center is the Trico League champion. The Wildcats returned to the state playoffs this season after making four consecutive trips before missing in 2015. This is La Center’s first trip to the semifinals since 2003. La Center has outscored its opponents by an average of 36-13. The Wildcats’ lone loss came in Week 1 to 2A Hockinson. They gave up 46 of their 160 points allowed in that one game. QB Jeremy Scott was the Trico League MVP with 1,507 passing yards and 18 TDs. He also rushed for 413 yards and 8 TDs. He only attempted five passes last week, completing four. Jeffrey Mayolo, the Trico’s co-offensive player of the week, is the region’s leading rusher with 1,497 yards and 17 TDs. He has rushed for 319 yards over the past two weeks. Lineman Jake Wise was the league’s defensive player of the year. He forms a one-two punch on the line with junior Jack Hiller.

FANS’ PICK: La Center (85 percent)

SCORE CZAR PICK: Connell 31, La Center 20


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