LAKE STEVENS — For teams like Lake Stevens, which from the get-go have had their sights set on winning a state title, a first-round win in the state playoffs doesn’t usual carry much gravity.
But Saturday’s win had an extra sweet taste of revenge for the Vikings.
Third-seeded Lake Stevens defeated the 14th-seeded Union Titans, 28-21, in the first round of the 4A state playoffs, avenging a 52-20 loss to Union in last year’s state title game.
“Our end goal isn’t to beat Union, but I’m happy we had it in our path,” Lake Stevens senior lineman Devin Kylany said. “That’s a team that we definitely wanted to beat.”
Union, which lost 14 all-league seniors from last year’s state-title-winning squad, wasn’t the same juggernaut the Vikings faced last year. But a wire-to-wire finish was required to put away the Titans on Saturday.
With Lake Stevens leading 28-21 with 3 minutes, 20 seconds remaining, the Titans faced a fourth-and-5 from their own 31-yard line. Lake Stevens junior defensive back Gabe Ramsey jumped a slant route for an interception to give the Vikings the ball and a chance to run out the clock.
“I see the quarterback get ready to throw right before my guy had even broke, so once he starts to throw I started moving on it,” Ramsey said. “I cut him off right at his break and got it, then the offense did the rest.”
Lake Stevens star running back Dallas Landeros, who racked up a season-high 272 yards on 38 carries, helped pick up two first downs, the second of which was a game-sealing 12-yard rush on third-and-11.
It was questionable early in the third quarter if Landeros would even be able to finish the game. The senior gingerly walked to the sideline after a carry to start Lake Stevens’ first drive of the second half, which ended with a three-and-out.
Union marched the ball right down the field with its first drive after halftime and tied the game, 21-21, on Jake Bowen’s 14-yard touchdown catch from Alex Gerhmann with 7 minutes to go in the third quarter.
But Landeros was back out for the Vikings’ next drive, and his presence was felt immensely. He helped the Vikings march 70 yards down the field and capped the long drive with a 2-yard touchdown run.
“I was worried about it, I didn’t think he was going to play anymore,” Lake Stevens head coach Tom Tri said. “He came out limping pretty good and I was like, ‘Uh oh, we got a little bit of an issue.’ Luckily we have Camdyn Hanks and Jayden Limar and they can run the ball just fine. … We’d be OK running the ball, but ultimately you want the ball in your senior’s hands. … Dallas stepped up and did what seniors that are all-league guys do. He kept the ball out of their hands and moved the chains and we were able to run the clock down on them in the fourth quarter.”
Tri said his gameplan was to try and pound the rock against the Titans and feed Landeros the ball plenty, especially with Kylany, the Vikings’ senior left tackle and Washington State commit, back in the fold after spending the regular season recovering from a summer surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
“I’m beyond thankful,” Kylany said. “I mean, you never know what the doctors are going to say, but he said I was all good to play and now I’m back out here. Because I had some unfinished business. When you start something, you have to finish it.”
Lake Stevens jumped out to a 21-7 lead after scoring touchdowns on each of its first three drives.
An interception thrown by Lake Stevens quarterback Tanner Jellison in the second quarter set up Union with good field position. The Titans capitalized with the first of Bowen’s two touchdown catches on the day with 1:12 remaining in the first half to cut the Vikings’ lead to 21-14. Lake Stevens will host No. 11-seeded Mount Si in the quarterfinals of the state playoffs after the Wildcats dispatched Mid-Columbia Conference champion Chiawana, 46-21, on Saturday.