SBLive Washington is previewing the Top 50 high school football teams in the state ahead of the 2020-2021 season. Here’s an inside look at the Lakes Lancers of the 3A Pierce County League – No. 14 in our countdown.
2019 IN REVIEW
7-3 overall, 5-2 3A Pierce County League (third place); lost to Bellevue in first round of 3A state playoffs.
- Dave Miller, 21st season.
- Overall record: 180-49.
- Coordinators (base scheme): Offense – Matt Roth (spread). Defense – Caleb Kellcy (3-4).
OL Wilzayvian Atkins
ATH Tyler Mackay
Offense – 7. Defense – 8.
DE Cameron Alefaio 6-2, 230, sr.
QB Justin Brennan 6-0, 195, sr.
WR/CB Jaedon Hall, 6-2, 190, sr.
OG Noah Koke-Mauga 6-3, 285, jr.
RB Caleb Kwalalon 5-11, 215, sr.
NT/OL Jorden Manu 6-3, 300, jr.
RB/LB Leo Pulalasi 6-1, 200, soph.
WR Justin Smith 6-3, 185, soph.
OL/DT Maliq Washington 5-11, 275, sr.
S Mike Westbrook, 6-1, 195, jr.
THREE TO SEE
Justin Brennan, quarterback
A trusted hand under center returns with increased arm strength, more muscle and something to prove. He threw for 1,985 yards (62 percent completion rate), 19 touchdowns, eight interceptions as a junior.
Caleb Kwalalon, running back
Incredibly gifted athlete is healthy and can run around you — or through you.
Leo Pulalasi, running back/linebacker
Hard-nosed sophomore makes his impact felt on both sides of the ball.
Lakes already got a taste of how quickly the pandemic-shortened season requires teams to be prepared for anything.
Head coach Dave Miller received the call the Monday after the first game that its Week 2 opponent Stadium was shutting down due to COVID protocols. So he worked the phones. In no time, the Lancers were set to play imposing 4A power Puyallup.
It’s not the team’s talent, ability or experience that Miller says will be the key to their success in a tough 3A Pierce County League. And it’s not the team’s ability to roll with the punches, so to say, due to the myriad changes the pandemic presents.
Rather, it’s vocal leadership.
On a team with lead-by-example talent, Miller has challenged his leaders to command with their voices, too.
“Great teams are player-led,” Miller said. “We’re trying to get guys to understand you can’t just do your thing, you have to hold everyone to a standard, make everyone better. Everyone is in the same boat.”
He’s seen it from linemen Jorden Manu and Noah Koke-Mauga, who have been an extension of the coaching staff, and make up the core of their interior line.
The sky’s the limit for a team that brings back 15 starters, a strong stable of running backs, headlined by power back Leo Pulalasi, a sophomore, and Caleb Kwalalon, a shifty Curtis transfer who is still adjusting to the offense.
As Kwalalon continues to feel the new system out, he’ll pitch in at linebacker as well, to help fill the absence of standout inside linebacker Devon Nofoa-Masoe, a three-star junior who will miss the season with an injury.
“Every day is a challenge just getting to the field and making sure everyone is safe and well.” —Dave Miller
2020-21 SCHEDULE – LAKES TEAM PAGE
Feb. 19 vs. Bonney Lake
Feb. 27 at Puyallup
March 9 at Mount Tahoma
March 12 vs. Wilson
March 19 vs. Lincoln
March 24 vs. Spanaway Lake