By Aaron Swaney, Aaron Lommers and David Krueger Herald Writers
CJ Lat, Lake Stevens, LB
All Lat did in his first year of playing linebacker was record 112 tackles and earn first-team All-Wesco 4A North honors. Now a senior, Lat is primed for a big season, Vikings coach Tom Tri said.
“He’s going to be a stud,” Tri said. “He plays downhill really well. He reads passes really well. He can blitz off the edge. He can pretty much do a little bit of everything.”
Tri, who coached the West squad in the annual East-West game in June, said Lat has grown tremendously as a football player and a person over his high school career.
“He really didn’t understand football (his freshman year),” Tri said. “Just to see the growth from his freshman to his sophomore (year), sophomore to junior (year) and now junior to senior year, I couldn’t be more proud of him.”
While Lat, who is getting looks from Central and Eastern Washington universities, was primarily a defender last year, the playmaker may hear his number called on offense a few times this fall.
“He plays some tight end for us. He rotates in,” Tri said. “He’s really more of a defensive specialist, but he’ll play some offense for us.”
Lat said the coaches were careful with him last year because of an injury he suffered his sophomore year. Two Marysville Pilchuck linemen landed on Lat’s leg, tearing a medial collateral ligament in his knee.
Now, Lat appears fully recovered, and has several goals for his final season at Lake Stevens.
“All I want to do is take our team to a Wesco title and hopefully to the T-Dome (Tacoma Dome),” he said. “That’s my main goal: get to the T-Dome.”
He also has his eye on the school record for tackles in a season.
“I’m going to try to get there,” Lat said. “I’m close. It’s like 150-something, and I was 112 last year in my first year, as a junior, playing linebacker.”
While on the field at linebacker, Lat — whose No. 47 practice jersey identifies him as “King Kong” — said he’s just trying to stop the ball and get himself and the rest of the Vikings defenders back to the sidelines.
“My main (thought) is three-and-out. Stop them. That’s my philosophy,” Lat said. “If you have the ball, you’re going down. That’s what I see in my head.”
Other players to watch
Max Gray, Arlington, WR
Healthy and confident, this senior is looking to be a major playmaker as Arlington plans to take to air more this season.
Gabe Moore, Monroe, RB/LB/RET
Following in older brother Jordan’s footsteps, this senior is a dangerous offensive weapon who is a threat to score every time he touches the ball.
Spencer Lipke, Snohomish, OL
All-league senior center brings experience and leadership to the Panthers’ offensive line.
Melvin Walser, Mount Vernon, WR/DB
Senior wide receiver is big, rangy, athletic and has great hands. Plus he’s being asked to help break in a new quarterback.