All-Area Defensive Player of the Year: Kyler Larsen
The physical safety/linebacker loves nothing more than a big hit and a big win and for that reason he's The Herald's Defensive Player of the Year
But the real fun in football for the 6-foot-3, 190-pound Larsen comes from playing defense.
"I just like hitting people," he admitted with a grin. "Being aggressive, that's my main thing. That's what I enjoy.
"There's more glamour in offense because of the touchdowns," he said, "but a big hit and a big stop is a lot more meaningful to me."
Larsen has been making big hits and big stops for three years as a Meadowdale defensive starter, and he did them well enough this year to be named The Herald's Defensive Player of the Year.
As the team's usual starting safety and sometimes outside linebacker, he led a Mavericks defense that yielded an average of only 9.6 points through the first 11 games, all of them victories.
"We're pretty physical on defense, but he was one of our more physical players," said Meadowdale head coach Mark Stewart. "He has great range. And he's one of those athletes where when the other team was trying to make plays, we were trying to get him up into the action.
"The best part of his game was his playmaking ability. Ever since his sophomore year he's been making big plays. I can think of him making sacks to running back punts to making big catches in the game. And when we called on him to make a play, he'd get it done."
Added Stewart with a chuckle, "He makes us really smart coaches."
Larsen played mostly in the secondary this season because of his experience and savvy, but he prefers a position closer to the line of scrimmage because it offers more opportunities to be physical. "I love outside linebacker," he said. "That's my favorite."
In college football "safety will be more fun because people will try to hit you and make blocks on you downfield. But in high school I want to be up in people's faces and using my body."
Larsen has only one real regret about this past season. The Mavericks lost just once, but it was a 40-0 blowout by Camas in the state quarterfinals, ending Meadowdale's season and costing the team a spot in the state semis at the Tacoma Dome.
"I'm really happy with an undefeated season (up to the final loss)," he said, "but I just wish we would've won one more game and got to the Tacoma Dome."
Still, there was no shortage of victories over his three-year varsity career. In that span the Mavericks went a combined 29-6 while reaching the state quarterfinals in 2009 and 2011, and the first round of the state playoffs in 2010.
"That's pretty special to me," Larsen said. "Being able to say that I was on the team during the greatest era at Meadowdale, that's pretty cool.
"I take a lot of pride in going to this school and playing football here," he added. "My dad went here and all my uncles went here, so it means a lot to me to represent this school."
Larsen, who has run a 4.65 40-yard dash, is looking forward to playing college football. He has heard from the Air Force Academy, though he needs an improved SAT score to qualify academically. A recruiter from Eastern Washington University was at Meadowdale a week ago expressing interest, and Larsen has also heard from smaller schools like Puget Sound and Whitman.
And there will likely be other suitors with the college football recruiting season just now getting into full swing.
"I'm excited about playing D1 (NCAA Division 1) football," Larsen said. "And I want to play for the best football team I can."
Our new comment system is not supported in IE 7. Please upgrade your browser here.