The Champions: Take a look at where West Linn's football champs are now
Back in the day, they were the best.
The best West Linn football players in their school's long history.
Together, the 2016 Lions did what no other West Linn team had done before — or has done since — they stepped up to win a state championship in record-breaking fashion.
Along the way, they were honored as never before, with players recognized in the Three Rivers League at 25 different spots, while simultaneously sweeping most of the TRL's top awards.
Senior linebacker Mitchell Johnson was named Defensive Player of the Year, senior lineman Seth Long was honored as Defensive Lineman of the Year, record-breaking senior quarterback Tim Tawa was recognized as Offensive Player of the Year, senior lineman Alex Forsyth was selected as the league's Offensive Lineman of the Year, and West Linn head coach Chris Miller was picked as the TRL's Coach of the Year.
The state of Oregon took notice, too. How could it not after the Lions blasted Central Catholic 62-7 in the biggest championship-game blowout in Oregon big-school history.
Tawa was named Oregon's Offensive Player of the Year, while Jake Meisen, Qawi Ntsasa, Jake Porter, Forsyth, Molden, Johnson and Long also won spots on the Class 6A all-state first team.
But the Lions' leaders weren't done. Not by a long shot.
So what have they been up to since that fateful day back on Dec. 3, 2016? Let's take a look at what the Lions' first-team all-state picks have been up to since that fateful day back in 2016, continuing this week with its defensive stars.
• Elijah Molden: Back in 2016, Elijah Molden was the man who came through when his team needed him most. While he battled injuries in his senior season as a running back and defensive back — he hurt an ankle in week three — Molden was at his best in the state championship game, carrying 10 times for 186 yards and three touchdowns, including a 70-yard score on the second play from scrimmage. For the season, Molden finished with 702 yards rushing and 10 TDs, 249 yards receiving and another six TDs, provided shutdown "D" in the backfield and led his team with three interceptions.
Since then: Molden has been a big contributor on the defensive side of the ball for the University of Washington football team in both his freshman and sophomore seasons. Molden has played in 27 games for the Huskies, making 19 tackles (including 10 solo stops and .5 tackles for loss) in 2017 and 29 tackles (including 20 solo tackles with one forced fumble and one fumble recovery) in 2018.
• Mitchell Johnson: Back in 2016, Mitchell Johnson was terrorizing opposing offenses from his defensive position as a senior linebacker. He led the Lions' killer "D" with 170 tackles, including 104 solo stops, 16 tackles for loss and an average of more than 12 tackles per game.
Since then: Johnson stepped up as a redshirt freshman on the defensive line for the Eastern Washington University football team in 2018. He was awarded first-team Freshman All-America honors from both Hero Sports and Phil Steele Publications after earning second-team All-Big Sky Conference accolades. He was also named to the Big Sky Conference All-Academic team. Johnson played in all 15 EWU games as a backup, posting season highs of four tackles in three different games and finishing with 31 tackles including 16 solo stops, eight tackles for loss, two interceptions and one fumble recovery.
• Jake Porter: Back in 2016, Jake Porter was another one of the Lions' hammers on the defensive line, teaming with Mitch Johnson, Seth Long, Alex Forsyth and Vince Seth to put the brakes on opposition offenses during the Lions' championship run. Indeed, in West Linn's final eight games — five of those in the playoffs — the Lions allowed their opponents an average of just 12 points per game. Individually, Porter finished with 80 tackles (48 solo), including 15 tackles for loss (with 5.5 sacks for 40 yards in losses).
Since then: Porter redshirted his first year with the Portland State University football team, then got back into action in the fall of 2018. Porter played in all 11 of PSU's games, starting the final two when Noah Yunker was injured, and finishing the season with 10 tackles, one tackle for loss and a blocked extra point at Oregon. He also earned Academic All-Big Sky Conference honors.
• Seth Long: Back in 2016, Seth Long was one of the Lions' stoppers on the defensive line, helping West Linn limit its opponents to fewer than 15 points per game during their perfect 14-0 season. Listed that season at 6-feet-4 and 227 pounds, Long was a force to be reckoned with, finishing with 72 tackles, including 40 solo stops.
Since then: Long is now preparing for his redshirt sophomore football season as a defensive lineman at Northern Arizona University. In his redshirt freshman campaign in 2018, Long played in three games and finished with one tackle.
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