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High School Football World Centered on Lake Stevens Tonight: #1 Lake Stevens Vikings host #1 West Linn (OR) in Match of Reigning State Champs - 7pm kick
The widely-anticipated rematch of last year's 45-6 WL win in Oregon, a chippy and occasionally nasty affair where emotions ran high on the field and off. Both teams are undefeated since that game.
Preview: West Linn Lions (3-0, ranked #1 in 6A) at Lake Stevens Vikings (3-0, ranked #1 in 4A)
Live Coverage begins at 6:30 pm at the J425 Game Thread (live from the sidelines with pictures, reports and HD Highlights. Bookmark this link or follow: https://www.thejournal425.com/p/west-linn-at-lake
Watch: Cheap Shot Sidelines Viking Aaron Parker during West Linn’s 45-6 win. Parker missed multiple weeks with a head injury.
LAKE STEVENS - The top high school football game in the nation is set for a 7 pm kickoff at Lake Stevens Stadium tonight as the reigning champs of Oregon and Washington square off in the return leg of a home and home split. J425 is welcoming West Linn fans and readers to our coverage of tonight’s event, so we’ll include a preview of both teams in this story…we’ll post our game pick in the Live Game Thread at 6:30.
Last year, the Lake Stevens Vikings drove eight hours round trip to absorb a 45-6 humbling. A bitter taste remained well past the end of the bus ride home for Lake Stevens, as a result of extracurriculars occurring outside game action in West Linn: Aaron Parker, a popular team captain and All Area offensive lineman was lost for multiple games as the result of a head injury he suffered from a dead ball personal foul in the route at West Linn. The Central Washington University signee was rushed to a hospital in a truck bed. Later, a West Linn player confronted a Lake Stevens family in the parking lot an hour after the game, getting into a verbal altercation with the middle-school-aged sister of a Viking player.
Between the head injury to a well-loved player and the chaotic scene in the parking lot, Viking parents were incensed the following week. Comments routed to J425 from a total of six different parents asked whether it was open season on Viking players and what was being done to address the situation.
If you’re West Linn, perhaps you sort this in the sour grapes pile but either way, emotions were high. Ultimately, the Vikings moved forward, gained momentum and won-out their schedule en route to a program-first State Championship.
West Linn went unbeaten the rest of the way and got their Washingtonian head coach his first Oregon title. More on that below. In summary, the events of last year are far from forgotten and should lead to a hotly-contested game between two motivated championship teams. Off the field, look for Lake Stevens fans and officials to show West Linn families hospitality and class that the Viking program is known for under Coach Tom Tri and his staff of seasoned leaders.
Previewing the Lake Stevens Vikings
Record: 3-0 with wins over two ranked opponents.
Ranking: Currently ranked #1 in the State 4A Coaches’ Poll.
Last Week: Beat Federal Way 63-13.
Fact: The Vikings haven’t lost a home game since before Covid and it’s been over a decade since Lake has lost a league game of any kind.
Resource: Viking Season Stats
Summary: Lake Stevens is led by its captains, senior leaders and a set of emerging juniors.
The Captains: Athletic senior big man Bryce Slezak – a three year starter at left tackle with a 40-time in the 4.8s. The All Area lineman has a couple offers and Ivy League interest: he visited Yale this summer. DB/WR Gabe Kylany – a menacing senior presence in the Viking secondary and a between the numbers threat as a receiver. You can find Gabe’s brother starting in the trenches at Pullman. Senior WR/DB David Brown, a three year starter, a big-play threat at wideout and a lengthy, physical CB. Brown leads the team in receiving yards and the senior’s wrestling and hurdling expertise (third in state, 110m) is apparent in his style of play; and the only junior captain: All State candidate 2025 QB Kolton Matson. The 6’2, 180-lb signal caller is recognized as the top QB in WA for 2025 and has started the year off on form with 15 total touchdowns and a near 70-percent completion percentage. The startlingly-quick Matson could choose tonight to break out a scrambling acumen that almost matches his refined pocket pass game.
…Senior leaders to note include an NFL-sized middle linebacker with Ivy league interest and a dual role as long snapper and right tackle: that’d be the 6’3, 240 lb Viking linebacker Mason Turner, whom some area coaches feel is comparable to a certain Yelm linebacker in production and talent. Turner is the guy with the sledgehammer. You’ll see.
Other senior leaders include the Lewis twins, Jesse Lewis and Jaxson Lewis, breakout performers in their senior campaigns. Jesse is tops on the team in yards per catch and has a pair of highlight-reel touchdowns; and Jaxson is a team leader in tackles and also has a TD catch…. Senior WR/DB/PR Paul Varela leads the team in receptions and provides measured, heady, dependable leadership in all phases of the game. He’s exploded for a couple eye-opening touchdowns, including one that launched the Vik’s second-half comeback at Bellevue.
Finally, pay attention to a couple 2025 Vikings on the edge of blowing up like supernovas: RB Jayshon Limar is averaging close to 150-yards a game and looks like he’s more than all the way back from an injury-plagued 2022. Limar holds the honor of possessing the best offer sheet of any player present tonight: the 2025 star has at least eight high major offers including Notre Dame, Oregon, Stanford and Texas A&M. Lake’s other junior star is leading-tackler Keagan Howard – a talented performer who is improving at a speed that’s hard to follow.
You can read more about Matson, Limar, Howard and others in this week’s Viking notebook, which also features season stats.
Previewing the West Linn Lions
Record: 3-0 with wins over two ranked opponents.
Ranking: #1 in Oregon 6A.
Last Week: beat #9 Jesuit 43-14.
Fact: West Linn is coached by Washington State Hall of Fame high school coach Jon Eagle, who won two state titles while compiling a 127-22 record at Camas (Vancouver, WA)
Need to Know: The West Linn Lions are the reigning 6A champions of Oregon and one of best high school teams in the Western US. The Lions defeated the Vikings 45-6 in Oregon last year en route to their title, in which the beat Sheldon – and in doing so avenged their only loss of the 2022 campaign. West Linn has opened 3-0 despite a challenging schedule – they’ve defeated Oregon’s #5 and #9 6A teams so far, outsourcing opponents 121-17.
Key takeaway: Penalties aside, the Lions were the more physical team last season and Michigan State QB Sam Leavitt carved up the Viking pass defense in a 45-6 West Linn victory. We’ll quote the story filed last year by Lake Stevens Viking Hall of Fame journalist and J425 Viking beat writer Mike Anderton:
The Lions, one of Oregon's top teams, led by (Michigan State) quarterback signee Sam Leavitt and several other All-State candidates, blasted Lake from the outset and went on to score on all six of their first half possessions, for a 42-0 halftime lead that initiated a humiliating running clock for the entire second half.
Viking missed tackles and porous pass defense punctuated the rout as Lake seemed stunned and baffled by the Lions' physical, quick-strike prowess. WL outgained Lake by 432 total yards to 106 in the first half.
Setting an all-time record AGAINST Lake Stevens (95% passing percentage), Leavitt finished 18 of 19 for 316 yards and two touchdowns. WL outgained Lake on the ground by 219 yards to 52.
West Linn Players to Watch
“Naone has the size, length and frame to be a Power 5 edge rusher in college, and as he puts on the weight and strength, will really be a desirable target. While the Lions already had a good number of tight ends and pass-catching big men, Naone slid right in on defense and made his presence felt. He plays with good burst off the ball, a quick first step and uses his technique. As a young sophomore…he was already flashing elite traits.”
- Brandon Huffman, National Recruiting Editor 247 Sports
The West Linn roster is packed with talent. Viking fans should get familiar with the following players.
#3 Hunter Haines SS, WR • Sr. • 6' 2" • 190 lbs
Two-way player seeing recruiting interest as a safety with offers from Idaho, Idaho State and Portland State, while also holding a preferred walk on offer from Oregon…. Brother Gavin plays for Oregon State.
#5 Baird Gilroy QB • Jr. • 6' 5" • 210 lbs
Talented junior beat out the senior many had tabbed as the likely starter. He’s picked up where Michigan State’s Sam Leavitt left off.
#15 Baron Naone TE, DE • Jr. • 6' 4" • 225 lbs
Top recruit in Oregon, top 247 overall Class of 2025. Made his name on the 7v7 circuit as a tight end but flashed last year as an edge rusher – was a key part of the Lions' defense throughout the season, vaulting up to four star status by the end of the year (although the 2025 star’s offer list doesnt’ quite match the depth or quality of Jayshon Limar’s).
“Naone has the size, length and frame to be a Power 5 edge rusher in college, and as he puts on the weight and strength, will really be a desirable target. While the Lions already had a good number of tight ends and pass-catching big men, Naone slid right in on defense and made his presence felt. He plays with good burst off the ball, a quick first step and uses his technique. As a young sophomore…he was already flashing elite traits.” - Brandon Huffman, National Recruiting Editor 247 Sports.
See J425 media packet and rate sheet.
#16 Wiley Donnerberg WR, CB • Sr. • 6' 4" • 200 lbs
Big DB is a three star with offers to Portland State, Idaho among others. He and twin Gus are the #11 and #12 players in Oregon in the Class of 2024.
#26 Cade Johnson RB • Sr. • 5' 10" • 188 lbs
Running back will do much of the rock-toting for West Linn.
#27 Josiah Molden CB • Fr. • 6' 0" • 165 lbs
DB with legacy for days and offers from the Huskies and the Ducks, among others…his NFL brother Eli was a Husky standout and currently plays for the Tennessee Titans…father Alex starred at Oregon before the current 27.
#66 Jake Normoyle T, C • Jr. • 6' 4" • 296 lbs
Three star 2025 OL prospect is one of West Coast’s top in his class. Also a legacy player – his father Chad was a Duck.
#75 Stephen Del giudice II T, DT • Sr. • 6' 5" • 240 lbs
Two star tackle is a late bloomer with a nasty streak. He sports offers from Pacific and PLU….flagged for personal foul on Lake’s Aaron Parker last year…reportedly wrote a hand-written letter of apology.
#80 Gus Donnerberg TE, OLB • Sr. • 6' 4" • 205 lbs
Bruising, big play pass-catcher is a three star with offers to Portland State, Idaho among others. He and twin Gus are the #11 and #12 players in Oregon in the Class of 2024.