The Chronicle’s 2018 All-Area Football Team: Hitting Their Stride
Friday Night Spotlight: All-Area Team Full of Players Who Shined in Big Games
By Jordan Nailon
A surprise run to the state football title game by Napavine solidified the Tiger’s clutches on the The Chronicle’s 2019 All-Area MVP races.
Quarterback Dawson Stanley came away with Offensive MVP honors while middle linebacker Jared McCollum was tabbed as the Defensive MVP after the Tigers finished with an 11-3 record and a second-place trophy in the Gridiron Classic.
In reality those players, and many others on the All-Area team, contributed to their teams’ success on both sides of the ball.
In his senior campaign Stanley rushed for 1,325 yards and picked up 19 touchdowns. He also completed 147 passes for 2,697 yards and 33 scores.
“I think Dawson is just an offensive guy. Just his ability to run the ball and then stepping into that passing role,” Napavine coach Josh Fay said. “Those guys are the most difficult for other teams to cover.”
However, Fay noted that his quarterback also held his own on the defensive side of the ball where he manned a linebacker spot for the Tigers.
“I think it’s tough for a guy to take every single snap, carry the ball anywhere from 15 to 25 times per night, and still be an effective linebacker. That’s asking a lot of a kid,” Fay said. “When he does things right, which he does most of the time, it looks really good.”
Stanley also set a 2B title-game record in the Tacoma Dome when he booted a 62-yard punt.
Stanley recognizes that he was groomed to be a playmaker quarterback from a young age thanks to the makeup of his family tree.
“Growing up I always had a natural arm from playing catch with Wyatt and my other brothers,” Stanley said.
During the state title game against Kalama he used that well-honed arm to unleash a 61-yard airstrike on fourth and 10 that McCollum hauled in for a touchdown, thanks to some sticky finger tips. Stanley said that heave stood out as his favorite play from his accomplished prep career.
Being a true defensive juggernaut McCollum picked a different, far less flashy, play from the state title game as his favorite memory. That play was a short slant that left McCollum unblocked and the Chinook receiver vulnerable.
“I had a straight shot on him with nothing much else going on. Nobody was around,” laughed McCollum as he replayed the resulting collision in the highlight reel of his mind. “I think I came out of that one a little better than he did.”
McCollum’s unrelenting style of play earned him high praise from his coach.
“I’ll tell ya, I’ve coached a lot of good kids and he’s just one of those guys who made himself what he is. It’s hard to describe. He’s 160 pounds. He plays middle linebacker and he’s really good at it. That’s really hard to do at that size,” said Fay. “I don’t think I’m going to coach a lot of Jared McCollums in my coaching career. He only knows one speed and that’s go. … I’ve never seen a kid eat more donuts or drink more chocolate milk to try to gain weight. He’s a weight room machine.”
Like Stanley, McCollum found ways to contribute on both sides of the ball. He rushed 18 times with an average of 7.7 yards per carry and five touchdowns and also caught 18 passes for an average of 30 yards per reception with another five touchdowns.
Still, McCollum’s identity was wrapped up tight in his defensive play. He says he was lucky to spend his formative years studying under linebacking beasts from the days of yore before he was ready to fill their shoes.
“For me personally I think it was just an experience thing where I’m no longer the underclassman, I’m the guy who needs to take charge now,” said McCollum. “I learned from (Austin) Filley and Chase Van Wyck and those guys that you’ve just got to go all out every play. You can’t worry about screwing up.”
Fay believes the program will continue to benefit from that trickle down effect even though McCollum has played his final snap for the Tigers.
“I think Jared’s legacy will really be in some of these younger linebackers,” Fay said. “I think we’ll still be feeling the effect of that four or five years down the road.”
While Napavine dominated the MVP discussion there was plenty of room for players of different stripes on the rest of the All-Area roster.
On the offensive side W.F. West’s Josiah Johnson and Adna’s Braden Thomas were selected as quarterbacks. Johnson, a junior, threw for 1,842 yards and 16 touchdowns to carry the Bearcats into the playoffs. Thomas, a senior, rushed for 938 yards and 16 touchdowns while throwing 123 times for 1,078 yards and 14 scores, and also earning accolades for his play in the defensive secondary.
W.F. West also landed Jaiyden Camoza in the All-Area backfield alongside Ashton Haight of Onalaska and Chance Fay of Adna. Camoza, a junior, rushed for 599 yards and eight touchdowns on just 74 attempts during a season that started late due to a leg injury. However, Camoza managed to set a school record by rushing for 302 yards in a league game against Aberdeen. Fay, a senior, rushed for 617 yards and 14 touchdowns on 63 carries and also earned high marks for his performance at linebacker. Haight, a junior, was the standard bearer for pigskin toters with 2,118 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns on the season.
Brady Collins of Adna and Patrick Riley of Rochester were marked as All-Area wide receivers. Collins, a senior, hauled in 27 passes for 429 yards and eight touchdowns. He also earned All-League honors as a defensive back and returned four punts for touchdowns to finish his career second all-time in Washington state history with nine punts run back for scores. Riley, a senior, caught 21 passes for 484 yards and five touchdowns.
Adna, which finished the season in the state semifinals with a 12-1 record, was able to land two players on the All-Area offensive line. Jason Chilcoate, a senior, earned first team All-Mountain Division honors as both an offensive and defensive lineman by registering 15 pancake blocks, 45 solo tackles and 44 assists. Able Ingle, a junior, was also named to the first team Mountain Division team on both sides of the ball. He notched 68 solo tackles, 78 assists, and earned a reputation as a skilled lead blocker in the open field.
Centralia’s Justus Kuykendall and Hezekiah Carter of Pe Ell-Willapa Valley also made the All-Area offensive line list. Kuykendall, a junior, earned first team EvCo honors in the trenches for the second year in a row. Carter, a senior, earned first team Coastal Division honors as an offensive lineman and a linebacker.
Hayden Lester, a senior from Napavine, was the final big pusher selected to the All-Area offensive line. He also earned first-team Mountain Division honors.
“He really held things together for us the last two years up front,” said Fay. “Maturity. Poise. What do you want in an offensive lineman? That’s what you want.”
Stanley echoed that praise for Lester’s blocking and leadership abilities, noting that he was the only returning offensive lineman on the team.
“We had a lot of young guys on our line but by the end of the year I thought they really hit their stride,” Stanley said. “Lester was definitely at the top. He was the guy who was pointing guys out and telling them where to go.”
The All-Area defensive unit is loaded with crimson and gray as four W.F. West Bearcats were selected. Leandre Gaines was arguably the most dynamic player in the entire group. A junior defensive lineman/wide receiver/punter listed at 6-foot-2, 252 pounds, Gaines found plenty of ways to influence games. He caught 38 passes for nearly 600 yards and six touchdowns and also registered 27 solo tackles and 14 assists. Those tackles included 9.5 for a loss and 4.5 fumbles, along with one fumble recovery.
“Leandre is an incredible talent out there offensively at receiver and he’s so versatile. But his presence defensively is where he really helped us the most this year,” said W.F. West coach Dan Hill, who noted this was Gaines’ first year as an interior lineman. “He could really change the game up front. He just had the ability to shut down half of the side of a line.”
W.F. West senior linebackers Zach Sloan and Lafe Johnson also received nods to the All-Area team. Sloan notched 31 solo tackles and 39 assists on the season including 2.5 tackles for a loss, one sack, and a fumble recovery. Johnson, who played several key positions throughout the season, turned in 22 solo tackles and 20 assists along with four tipped passes and an interception. He also rushed for 478 yards and six touchdowns.
Max Taylor was the final Bearcat to make the All-Area team. A sophomore defensive back, Taylor made 18 solo tackles, got in on 22 assisted takedowns, hauled in one interception and tipped four passes.
Colby Sobolesky-Reynolds of Centralia made the team as a defensive back. A senior who was named to the EvCo’s defensive first team, Sobolesky-Reynolds led the Tigers with 65 tackles and a pair of interceptions. He also contributed to the Centralia offense as a running back, receiver and kick returner.
Ben Woodrum of Napavine and Cole Fay of Adna rounded out the All-Area defensive backfield. Fay, a junior, earned first-team Mountain Division honors as both a running back and defensive back. He turned in 50 solo tackles and 55 assists along with seven tipped passes and three interceptions while also rushing for 801 yards and 10 touchdowns. Woodrum, a senior, also made his presence felt on both sides of the line of scrimmage by pulling in 30 catches for 554 yards and nine touchdowns while playing a lockdown cornerback spot with a handful of interceptions.
“He really came into his own this season,” Josh Fay said of Woodrum. “There’s no doubt that he played his best football at the end when it mattered most.”
Max Smith of Pe Ell-Willapa Valley and Ethan Buck of Toledo make up the rest of the All-Area linebacker crew. Smith, a junior, was voted the Defensive MVP of the Coastal Division with 71 total tackles, three forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and one interception returned for a touchdown. Smith also picked up 1,215 yards and 17 touchdowns rushing along with 139 receiving yards and four touchdown receptions. Buck, a senior, compiled 57 tackles, seven sacks, an interception, two forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. Another two-way player, Buck also ran for 1,127 yards and 12 touchdowns while snatching 16 catches for 110 yards and three touchdowns.
The rest of the All-Area defensive front line includes Hunter Eaton of Toledo, Tristen Lawrence of Onalaska, and Seth Butler of Napavine. Eaton, a senior, racked up 16.5 sacks this season and 24 tackles for a loss. Lawrence, a 6-0, 255-pound senior earned first team Mountain Division honors and found himself in the middle of a myriad of make or break plays during the Loggers resurgent campaign. Butler, listed at 5-7 and 160 pounds, came back to the gridiron for the first time in five years this season and immediately made an impact for the Tigers. The senior earned first team defensive line honors in the Mountain Division as a hybrid nose guard/defensive end, and also contributed to the offense with a pair of touchdowns, an average of nearly 5 yards per carry and 24 catches for 366 yards.
Beyond Butler’s statistical contributions his coaches and teammates all lauded his inspirational effect on the field and in the locker room. Fay called him the team’s emotional leader. Stanley used different words.
“Seth was awesome. He did really good because he has no fear of anything. He just goes out there and plays as hard as he can every play. And I think talking (trash) was one of his biggest assets because every game you felt like you had to pull him off a pile because he wouldn’t stop talking and you felt like he was going to get a penalty,” Stanley explained. “He was always getting people mad at him. Talking (trash) was definitely one of his best assets.”
There were three other players who earned All-Area Utility player honors since their contributions were so well-rounded it proved impossible to codify them as strictly an offensive or defensive player. That two-way trio includes Lucas Kreger of Onalaska, Gavyn Higdon of Morton-White Pass, and Fano Arceo-Hansen of Toledo.
Kreger, a junior, played both linebacker and quarterback for the Loggers. He rushed for 1,030 yards and 17 touchdowns on nearly nine yards per carry while also throwing for almost 500 yards and five touchdowns. Higdon, a senior, played linebacker and running back for the Timberwolves. He rushed for ten touchdowns and 607 yards and also caught 13 passes. On defense Higdon came up with 37 solo tackles, 44 assists, five sacks, ten tackles for a loss and an interception. Arceo-Hansen, a senior, played linebacker and wide receiver for the Indians. He caught 34 passes for 474 yards and seven touchdowns, while also scoring three defensive touchdowns to go with 13 sacks, four interceptions, four forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.