By Aaron VanTuyl
The prep football scene in Lewis County this season was nothing if not balanced.
Good teams? Five squads landed in the state playoffs. Good players? The region’s All-League teams were chock-full of local athletes.
In a season where no team was able to gain a definitive edge over the competition, though, the 2017 season was defined by its parity and balance — which is reflected in the 2017 edition of The Chronicle’s All-Area Football Team, starting at the quarterback position.
The two All-Area signal-callers were more than capable running and throwing the ball, and garnered themselves a pair of league MVP awards for their work in the regular season.
Nole Wollan, W.F. West’s senior QB and the Evergreen 2A Conference’s Offensive MVP, led the Bearcats to a second-place finish in the EvCo, completing 82 of 165 passes for 1,061 yards with 14 touchdowns. He was also a threat with his feet, running 133 times for 701 yards and six scores — including a 279-yard performance in a winner-to-state crossover win over Woodland.
Dawson Stanley, meanwhile, made a splash in his first season starting under center for Napavine. The junior, and SWW 2B Mountain Division MVP, hit 99 of 189 passes for 1,665 yards and 26 touchdowns, with another 1,076 yards and 13 scores on the ground for a Tiger team that reached the state semifinals for the fourth year in a row.
There’s always a big crop of stars at this position, but these three stood tall in a crowded (back)field.
Onalaska’s Ashton Haight, a bruising sophomore, racked up 1,428 yards on 198 carries through 10 games with 14 touchdowns to lead a Logger squad that reached the district crossovers.
Ka’imi Henry, a savvy senior running back, led a Bearcat offense that took on a ground-and-pound look late in the season with 812 rushing yards on 119 carries with eight touchdowns.
And Jose Pineda, the workhorse in Centralia’s offense, piled up 773 yards on 131 carries with seven touchdowns, adding 10 catches for 200 yards and three additional scores.
Matt Poquette, Morton-White Pass’ 6-foot-6 senior star, had 31 catches for 767 yards and 11 touchdowns in nine games to pick up an All-Mountain Division first-team nod; the Timberwolves, as a team, had 1,124 receiving yards.
Napavine’s Jordan Purvis, a 6-foot-3 senior, was the biggest downfield threat for the Tigers, with 815 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns to earn a spot on the All-Mountain Division first team.
Pe Ell-Willapa Valley’s Ryan Shepherd was a two-way All-Coastal Division first team pick, but on the offensive end he picked up 523 yards with eight touchdowns on 29 catches and added a rushing touchdown and five extra-point conversions — not to mention four
interceptions and a pair of pick-6s.
Adna’s Brady Collins, meanwhile, led the Pirates with 16 touchdowns — 11 as a receiver and five on punt returns. The junior picked up 419 yards on punt returns alone, averaging 34.9 yards an attempt, with 407 receiving yards on 19 catches.
There’s plenty of size, strength and experience in the trenches, starting with veteran Morton-White Pass senior Carson Lewis — a two-time All-Mountain Division first-teamer. He’s joined by PWV’s Bradley Prestegord, a senior two-way All-Coastal Division first-team pick clocking in at 6-foot-4, 295 pounds; Adna’s Jason Chilcoate (6-2, 275), a junior two-way All-Mountain Division first-team lineman; W.F. West center Jack Mallonee, a veteran starter and All-Evergreen 2A Conference first-team pick; and Rochester’s Ben Slaymaker, a converted fullback who landed on the All-EvCo first-team as a 6-0, 225 lineman.
Three seniors earned the nod this year, all bringing plenty of experience to the table. W.F. West’s Tyson Guerrero leads the defensive backfield, earning praise from coach Bob Wollan throughout the season for his shutdown work at cornerback and showing up in the box score with three interceptions in a win over Woodland. Napavine senior Garret Shannon, an All-Mountain Division first-teamer and veteran starter for the Tigers, and Toledo’s Keyton Wallace, a hard-hitting senior All-River Division pick, round out the DBs.
They might not have daunting linebacker size, but this year’s quartet was more than able to get the job done. W.F. West’s Camden Bull was a force all season long, as the 5-foot-11, 185-pound senior quarterbacked the Bearcats’ tough run defense and won a first-team All-EvCo nod. Napavine’s Jared McCollum (5-10, 160) moved into a starting role as a junior and stood out, and teamed up with senior Noah Lantz (5-9, 160) to give the Tigers a pair of All-Mountain Division first-teamers behind the line. And Pe Ell-Willapa Valley’s Tyson Nissell averaged nearly nine tackles a game to earn an All-Coastal Division first-team spot.
Toledo’s burly Hunter Eaton, a two-way All-River Division first-team lineman, heads up the defensive line, clocking in at 6-foot-1 and 260 pounds. Onalaska’s Johnny Wells, a tad undersized for the spot at 5-11, 160, didn’t let it slow him down on the field, earning All-Mountain Division first-team nods on both sides of the line. W.F. West’s Wyatt Deskins, often called a “program kid” by coach Bob Wollan in reference to his work with the Bearcats, was an All-EvCo first-team pick as a senior, and Winlock senior Seth Lindsey (6-2, 210) rounded out the crew, capping off a solid career with the Cardinals as a two-way All-River Division first-team pick and earning honors on the D-line and at running back.