High School Sports

Lincoln standout knows how to find the end zone ... and the trash can

Running back Tristian Kwon follows one stern yet simple football-playing conviction.

See the hole, hit the hole — very, very hard.

And that is exactly what Kwon did last season as a first-year starter for the Lincoln High Abes, who won the battle-testing 3A PCL, and advanced all the way to the state quarterfinals.

Buoyed by a pair of 300-yard rushing games, Kwon finished with 1,666 yards and 17 touchdowns on 208 carries.

Now a senior, Kwon should be the league’s top battering ram — again.

“It is so hard to find high school running backs nowadays who hit that hole,” Bonney Lake coach Jason Silbaugh said. “They either dance too much, or try and outrace you to the outside. He doesn’t — he hits it so stinking hard, it is hard for defenders to react.”

What might seem like good news for 3A PCL defensive coordinators, as reliable as Kwon was in 2016, Lincoln coach Masaki Matsumoto expects the rushing workload to be divided up differently this season.

Kwon will certainly be the bell cow, but Matsumoto envisions backup Austin Moeung becoming a bigger factor in the game plan.

“We actually weren’t OK with Tristian’s carries, and that is on me,” Matsumoto said. “We thought he had gotten too many carries several times, and it hurt us ... because he wasn’t as fresh on defense. We also felt like we let Austin down.”

If it’s one thing Matsumoto knows about Kwon, the teenager will do everything he can not to let his team down.

Case in point — the 3A quarterfinal game at O’Dea.

Kwon had sprained his ankle the previous week against Lynnwood, and missed a few practices leading up to the showdown against O’Dea.

“We heavily taped him up Friday, and played like he wasn’t even hurt,” Matsumoto said.

But he was. And on one play, it got worse.

“On one play, I got tackled, and somebody rolled up on the ankle,” Kwon said. “It was out for one play, but I came back in.

“I’ve felt ever since youth football, unless I cannot walk, I need to play for my team.”

Even with all of those qualities — toughness, dependability and being a productive ball carrier — Kwon, who is 6-foot-1 and 185 pounds, went into the summer without one scholarship offer from a college.

But last month, that all changed: Kwon went out to the Georgetown football camp and ran a respectable 40-yard time of 4.65 seconds.

If that didn’t seal it, what transpired afterward surely did.

Finished with all of his testing, Kwon decided to start picking up all the plastic water cups on the field and putting them in the trash can.

An assistant coach noticed Kwon’s deed, and suggested to Hoyas coach Rob Sgarlata that the team should offer the Abes’ standout.

“Coach (Matsumoto) is always preaching blue collar, and to be a servant warrior,” Kwon said.

Is he the chore-accomplishing type at home, too?

“My mom might say I am kind of lazy,” he said with a chuckle.

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