LAKE STEVENS — The Lake Stevens football team feels like it has unfinished business.
The top-ranked Vikings have won seven consecutive league titles and finished another strong campaign last year in the Tacoma Dome. However, that run ended with a 52-20 loss to Union in the Class 4A state championship game.
That loss has stuck with Lake Stevens. The Vikings’ 2019 revenge tour has seen the Lake Stevens offense average 46 points a game, while the defense has shut out its last three opponents and allowed nine points in the Vikings’ last six games. Now, Lake Stevens (9-0) prepares to mount another postseason run on the backs of a senior class that has been playing together since elementary school.
“We fell one game short of trying to reach that ultimate goal,” Lake Stevens coach Tom Tri said. “So, I think, a lot of these guys are pretty self-driven. … Losing the last game, the way we did, it made us realize that we belonged there, No. 1. But, No. 2, that we still had some things that we could get better at. I think these guys really took that to heart in the offseason.”
Tri, who calls the plays for the offense, has an embarrassment of riches at his fingertips. First-year quarterback Tanner Jellison has thrown for over 2,200 yards and 32 touchdowns with just three interceptions. The junior quarterback’s arsenal of weapons is led by senior Kasen Kinchen, who has 35 receptions for 744 yards and nine touchdowns.
In addition to Kinchen, there are six other Lake Stevens receivers averaging over 12 yards per reception including Joseph Gonzales, Skyler Reyna, Max Moenoa, Sergio Pelayo, Drew Carter and running back Dallas Landeros.
“It’s not like we’ve got one main, go-to guy,” Kinchen said. “Anyone can get the ball and go score. I don’t know how anyone would be able to slow us down.”
“There’s not many drops,” Jellison added. “If there’s an incompletion it’s always my fault. And if I’m not having a good day we’ll give it to Dallas and he’ll run it in and score.”
Landeros is averaging 9.4 yards per carry. Along with a pair of receiving touchdowns, the senior has 1,278 yards rushing this season with 23 touchdowns on the ground.
“He was all-league last year and he’s certainly going to be all-league again this year,” Tri said. “But his biggest impact is his leadership and his work ethic that he provides as a senior leader for us. I can’t say enough things about that kid.”
The high-powered offense also helps the defense prep for the well-rounded offenses it will see in the playoffs. Historically an offensive powerhouse, the Vikings have taken pride in a defense that has come into its own in its second year under defensive coordinator Eric Dinwiddie.
“The scout team, both ways, is always super competitive,” senior linebacker Junior Robinson said. “That’s how we’ve always been. It’s a good warm up for the game.”
Landeros and Robinson are two of 21 seniors on the Lake Stevens squad that have been playing together since at least fourth grade. Tri said the group embodies a “family atmosphere.” That family feels like it has one more thing to prove in the group’s final year at Lake Stevens.
“I first moved out here in fourth grade. Some of them have been playing together even longer than that,” Landeros said. “It just kind of feels like if any team were to do it, it would be this one.”
That goal starts with a Class 4A state preliminary-round game against Tahoma (3-6) at 7 p.m. Friday at Lake Stevens High School that the Vikings hope is the first step on their way to a championship finish.
“We made it as far as you can, but we fell short,” Landeros said. “So we have that bad taste in our mouths. We want to get back there, but we want to take that extra step and (win) it.”