As they enter the Lake Washington High football field, David Dean and Ryan Thomson tap a sign at the front gate that reads “ALWays Rising.”
It’s a Kang tradition. It signifies that they’re fully committed to the football program.
With their senior years around the corner, Dean and Thomson recently reflected on what they’ve achieved while donning Kang purple and what’s to come this season.
Both players have started on the offensive line since they were sophomores and Thomson starts on the defensive side of the ball as well.
“I’ve learned a lot of life skills through things about failure during a game, like how to come back from that, learned about hard work and determination. How to be part of a family, how to take care of others,” said Thomson, who stands 6-foot-3 and weighs 270 pounds.
Added Dean, a 6-3, 280-pounder: “I made some really good friends and made some really great memories that I’ll never forget. I don’t think I’ll stop talking to a lot of these people I play with. Football’s pretty much been my life through high school. It’s just been a fun experience.”
Both guys helped the Kangs notch two consecutive 2A/3A KingCo league titles. Last season, LW earned the school’s first football playoff victory since 2003 with a 17-0 victory over Shorewood to make the 3A state football playoffs round of 16. The team won four of its last five games of the season.
Thomson feels the Kangs can make an even bigger impact this season.
“I think it’s gonna take a lot of teamwork, because we have really good players individually, but as a team, I don’t think we performed as well as we’d like to,” he said. “I think if we come together more, we can be a lot more successful on the team.”
Dean added that the players are bonding in the weight room and while hanging out — playing “Minecraft” and eating lunch — trying to achieve cohesion before the season starts.
Practice kicks off Aug. 21 and the Kangs’ opener is at 7 p.m. Sept. 6 at home against Steilacoom.
The Reporter asked Dean and Thomson a series of questions to a get a behind-the-scenes glimpse into their lives:
What super power would you like to have?
Dean: I’d like to fly.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Dean: The first varsity game, Alex Garry (former player) gave me a piece of advice I’ll never forget: It’s play your game, just be yourself, do you. That’s what I did and I found success in it ever since.
Do you have any kind of superstition before a game?
Dean: For sure. I eat chicken before every game. I gotta pray before every game. I have to wrap my own wrists, I won’t let anybody else do that for me.
Thomson: I take a honey shot. I have a bottle of honey I carry around. It’s a bit of energy and it just gets you ready to play.
What’s your favorite restaurant in the area?
Dean: Aceituno’s just opened up, it’s a Mexican restaurant. It’s so good.
What’s your biggest pet peeve?
Thomson: It’s when I’m explaining something to somebody and they think they know it and they answer it, but then they just have no clue what they’re talking about. And then I have to stop them and explain it to them again.
What inspires you — a person, song lyric, a movie?
Dean: My grandad does. He’s pretty much my role model throughout life. I pretty much wanna be exactly like him. I wear his number (77). He played down in California (high school), he played at Montana State in college. He just taught me how to be a good man, take care of who you love.
Thomson: My dad inspires me a lot. He played football in high school, and from talking to him, I think a lot of his experiences are similar to mine. Just kind of do your own thing (he is drawn to engineering like his dad and other family members).
What’s your dream vacation spot?
Thomson: To be back in Hawaii. I took a vacation there last spring break and that was just a lot of fun, just the people there, the food, the weather — it was all great.
Dean: I went to Copenhagen this last summer and that was a lot of fun. I’d like to go back there again.