TACOMA — Tom Tri’s Lake Stevens High School football program has been knocking on the door of state stardom over the past decade. Knocking it down is all that has evaded it.
But it’s wins like the one the top-ranked Vikings (2-0) had Friday night, after an hour-and-a-half drive, against a talented Lincoln squad, 35-26, and a 55-point win over Ferndale (ranked No. 10 at the time) a week earlier that tend to put the rest of the state on notice.
“I think we’re proving that it wasn’t all last year’s players who got to the championship game,” said senior running back Dallas Landeros, who led Lake Stevens with 19 carries for 135 yards and had three total touchdowns. “This team is just as good if not better.
“We still have a lot to prove, even after making it that far last year. But this is only the beginning.”
Lake Stevens still spreads the ball around the field, much like it did when Jacob Eason led them to the state semifinals in 2015. But this year’s group is so physical in the trenches, even with Washington State-bound lineman Devin Kylany out until at least the postseason with a knee injury.
Landeros put fifth-ranked Lincoln (0-2) away when he ran for a 29-yard touchdown run with 4:32 remaining in the fourth quarter.
The Vikings started the period leading 21-20 before Landeros punched in a 1-yard TD run after Kasen Kinchen’s 55-yard reception. Lake Stevens forced Lincoln to punt before Landeros’ third TD gave the Vikings a 35-20 lead.
“Dallas is such a workhorse,” Tri said. “I love that kid to death. He’s just solid, solid as nails. So tough and he’s old-fashioned football in a spread offense is what he is.”
This game seemed to swing near the end of the first half.
Lake Stevens turned the ball over three times, including a fumble on its first possession that led to a quick Lincoln touchdown.
But the Vikings eventually retook the lead when quarterback Tanner Jellison, on fourth down from the 5, rolled left and hit Joseph Gonzalez in the corner of the end zone with 3:36 remaining in the second quarter. Jellison completed 14 of 21 passes for 196 yards and two touchdowns.
Lincoln drove 65 yards its next drive to get to Lake Stevens’ 8 with 23 seconds remaining in the half when Caden Filer found Julien Simon in the back of the end zone. But Simon, a four-star recruit in the 2021 class, wasn’t able to get a foot in bounds with the officials signaling incomplete.
“I thought Julien got his foot down, but he didn’t,” Lincoln coach Masaki Matsumoto said. “But he did a great job all game. He fought his heart out on both sides of the ball and special teams.”
Simon ran for two touchdowns and caught a TD pass to go with 84 receiving yards.
But even with these two statement wins to start the season, you won’t catch anyone on the Lake Stevens sideline looking ahead to November just yet.
“I would love to be thinking about state playoffs and cold weather, but we got Monroe next week,” Tri said. “We’ll have a little fun celebrating tonight against Lincoln, and tomorrow we’ll wake up and start watching some film before our first league game.”