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Originally published Wednesday, September 25, 2013 at 9:08 PM

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Lake Stevens linebacker C.J. Lat is a force on defense

In last Friday’s 14-13 win over Oak Harbor, Lat tied the Lake Stevens record for tackles in a game with 26.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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When Lake Stevens coach Tom Tri pulled out the No. 47 practice jersey with “King Kong” scrolled across the back instead of a last name, he knew exactly who owned the jersey.

Lake Stevens senior captain and linebacker C.J. Lat is a beast on defense, so disruptive with a natural instinct to get to the ball and make plays that coaches will sometimes deliberately pull him out of drills in practice.

“He’s kind of a drill-wrecker,” Tri said. “It’s hard to get a feel of the other guys on defense.”

Lat’s playmaking ability may overshadow some of his teammates in practice at times, but no one’s really complaining.

In last Friday’s 14-13 win over Oak Harbor, Lat tied the Lake Stevens record for tackles in a game with 26.

Only three Vikings players before him had accomplished that – Trevor McGuire in 1998, Rob Touchette in 1991 and Chris Monson in 1984.

By looking at Lat on the sideline, it’s hard to pick out the hard-hitting side of him that earned him the nickname “King Kong.” During Wednesday’s practice, he stood next to teammates, bright pink socks rolled up on his calves, bouncing around and joking.

After practice, he continued to speak with a big smile, laughing with teammates about his pink socks that it seems only the jokester of the team could pull off. But then, the “King Kong” side comes out as he starts talking football, and the pink socks don’t make him seem so cute anymore.

“I just like hitting people,” Lat said. “If I’m on the field, someone’s getting hurt.”

As a two-year starter at linebacker, Lat has become a student of the game and a leader on the team – the quarterback of the defense, according to Tri. Last season as a junior, Lat recorded 112 tackles, the second-most on the team.

In three games this season, Lat has 70 tackles and four sacks (two shared). The next-closest on the list of total tackles is 39.

He has no idea of the numbers he’s already put up this season. He’s just there to play – and to hit.

“It’s a huge catalyst, for sure,” Tri said. “He’s what makes our defense tick.”

Lake Stevens travels to Monroe for a 7 p.m. game Friday to kick off league play.

Notes

• Once again, Bellevue moved up in the national high-school football polls. This week, Bellevue moved from No. 3 to No. 2 in the West on the MaxPreps Regional High School Football Computer Rankings. Bellevue was also ranked on both the MaxPreps Xcellent 25 at No. 10 and the MaxPreps Freeman Rankings at No. 5. The Wolverines also got a nod on the MaxPreps high school football top 25 composite rankings at No. 12. Bellevue is the only team from Washington state to be ranked on any of these polls.

• Graham-Kapowsin’s 39-21 victory over Federal Way last week snapped the Eagles’ 19-game win streak in the SPSL 4A South Division, dating to the final league game of 2010. Teague James led the way with 128 yards rushing and four TDs.

Times staff reporter Sandy Ringer contributed to this report.

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