LAKE STEVENS — Devin Kylany knew there was a chance.
The senior, recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament that he injured wrestling at Mat Classic in February, had done the math and knew he would be cleared to return to the Lake Stevens football team late in the season — just in time for a possible playoff run.
But the Lake Stevens Vikings needed to still be playing.
Kylany’s teammates took care of the second part and nine months after his injury Kylany was back on the field for No. 3 Lake Stevens in last Saturday’s state opening-round game against Union.
It was the first game for Kylany since last year’s Class 4A state championship loss, also against the Titans.
“(Lake Stevens coach Tom) Tri was giving a speech earlier about how it’s a long season, everyone’s banged up and has got to stay hydrated and healthy,” Kylany said of a recent practice. “I was like, ‘I feel great. I just started.’”
Kylany was injured in the Round of 16 in February’s state wrestling tournament. He was wrestling Gonzaga Prep’s Darius Johnson in a 285-pound bout when a foot sweep led to the injury.
But the Washington State University-bound offensive lineman was determined to rehab and get back on the football field.
With Kylany back at his usual spot at left tackle, Lake Stevens running back Dallas Landeros ran for 272 yards as the Vikings avenged last season’s loss in the title game with a 28-21 victory.
“Having Devin back changed our whole game plan,” Tri said. “We went from trying to be balanced … to, ‘Let’s run the ball between our tackles, between our four senior linemen.’”
Landeros has had success all season on the ground for Lake Stevens (11-0), rushing for over 1,500 yards and 25 touchdowns. But Landeros was excited to have his fellow senior captain back on the field with him for Saturday’s contest.
“It’s huge having him back. Like, 6-6 and 300 pounds huge,” Landeros said. “Not only because of his athletic ability but his leadership. If something’s going wrong, he’s always there to calm everybody down and get them to focus on the next play. It was good to run behind him again.”
Like Landeros, Tri is excited to see Kylany back on the field. And not just because of the experience the two-time all-league Kylany brings to the Vikings’ line.
“He’s got that positive energy about him that helps elevate other guys around him,” Tri said. “It’s a huge boost for us to get a guy like that back. Practices, especially in late October and early November, can be cold, wet and monotonous. To have someone who’s full of positive energy and can make the other guys laugh is great to have.”
The Lake Stevens coaches monitored Kylany regularly throughout the game Saturday. As it continued to be a nailbiter, a rarity for the Vikings who had won by an average of almost 50 points per game this season, Tri once again checked on his captain.
“We did have a backup plan in mind just in case Devin needed a breather or wasn’t able to go,” Tri said. “But when we realized it was a 21-21 game late in the third quarter, and we have to go down and score Devin said, ‘There’s no way you’re taking me out.’ And we were like, ‘Yeah, OK.’”
The win over Union set up a Class 4A quarterfinal matchup Saturday afternoon against No. 11 Mt. Si (9-2). Lake Stevens has scrimmaged the Wildcats every spring for the last seven years.
Just like his own season, Kylany hopes the Vikings’ playoff run is just getting started.
“I keep reminding the team that I just started,” Kylany said, “and I’m not ready to finish.”