Bring on Bellevue.
Lakes High thumped Mountain View 28-0 in the first round of the Class 3A football state playoffs Friday night in Lakewood, setting up a showdown between the two nationally-ranked teams.
Second-ranked Lakes will host three-time defending state champion and top-ranked Bellevue in the quarterfinals at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Harry E. Lang Stadium.
“We’re excited,” Lancers running back Levonte Littlejohn said. “Oh, yeah, real excited.”
Not only is the game a matchup of two highly-rated teams – Bellevue (11-0) is No. 14 and Lakes (11-0) is No. 18 in Rivals.com’s national rankings – it’s a rematch of last season’s state semifinals. The Wolverines thumped Lakes 35-7 on the way to their eighth state title since 2001.
Lakes has been itching for revenge since then. Before the Lancers could look forward to Bellevue, they had to handle the Thunder.
That didn’t take long.
Running back Levonte Littlejohn broke free for a 65-yard touchdown scamper, breaking at least six tackles, on the first play from scrimmage. Littlejohn added a pair of 17-yard touchdown runs in the first half, staking the Lancers to a 21-0 lead at halftime.
“I got past the line of scrimmage, then had to make some moves,” Littlejohn said of the long scoring run. “When it’s five on one, you’ve got to do something. Then the downfield blocking opened up.”
Littlejohn finished with 151 yards on 17 carries, posting his fifth 100-yard rushing effort of the season. The 5-foot-11, 190-pound senior sprained his ankle in the preseason and coach Dave Miller worked him back slowly. He had more than eight carries in just one of Lakes first eight games, yet he’s managed to pile up 1,018 yards and 19 touchdowns.
“I’m 100 percent now,” Littlejohn said. “A little sore the day after games, but nothing big.”
Defensively, Lakes bottled up Mountain View’s wing-T attack. The Lancers held the Thunder from Vancouver to 106 rushing yards on 43 attempts. Facing a wing-T team for the second week in a row – Nathan Hale gave Lakes a scare last week before falling 56-21 – and only the second time this season, Miller was extremely pleased with the his defense’s performance.
“We improved by leaps and bounds in one week,” said Miller, whose team will face perhaps the best wing-T team in the country in Bellevue. “Mountain View’s a really good football team, they’ve put up a lot of points on people. Our defense was just fantastic. Physical, disciplined and we made a few adjustments.”
One of those adjustments was mammoth senior Zach Banner start on the defensive line for the first time this season. The 6-foot-9, 335-pound Banner usually plays about half the snaps on defense and full-time at left tackle on offense. Against the Thunder (8-3), he was in for nearly 90 percent of the defensive plays and all of the offensive plays.
“We just felt we needed a little more physical presence up front,” Miller said, “and he causes some problems with his length and his size.”
Banner expects to go both ways against Bellevue. He’s eager to get another shot at the Wolverines.
“They were definitely harsh on us in the Tacoma Dome last year,” Banner said, “they know a lot of us are coming back, so they know it’s going to be an intense game.”