DEMING - Mount Baker introduced itself to Northwest Conference Class 1A play and showed Nooksack Valley its brand of smash-mouth football.
In a game pitting the Mountaineers' pounding rushing attack against the Pioneers' finesse passing game, tough running won out.
"All season our philosophy has been to have fun and kick butt doing it," Mount Baker running back Jake Schleimer said. "We played smash-mouth football all night. That's just Baker football."
Schleimer and Izaiha Schwinden combined for 361 yards on the ground and six touchdowns, as Mount Baker started slow but rolled to a 59-14 win against Nooksack Valley in its first 1A league contest since dropping from the 2A ranks this year Friday, Sept. 28, at Bob Tisdale Stadium in Deming.
"We knew it was going to be a big football game for us," Mountaineers coach Ron Lepper said. "They are a good football team, and we knew they could put points on the board. We didn't panic and started getting stops on defense."
It seemed both teams were destined for a high-scoring affair during the first quarter. They both scored two TDs apiece in the first seven minutes. The Pioneers passing game was clicking and the Mountaineers were running at will.
One turnover changed the whole complexity of the game.
Trailing 21-14 midway through the second quarter, the Pioneers had the ball at Mount Baker's 18-yard line, when Nooksack Valley quarterback Tanner Myhre was unable to handle a shotgun snap over his head.
Mount Baker defensive lineman Dalton Munsell pounced on the loose football. The Mountaineers didn't look back. Nooksack Valley never recovered.
Schwinden matched his touchdown season total in one quarter, scoring three straight times in the second frame to put Mount Baker ahead 35-14 with 50 seconds left before the half.
The quick, shifty junior scored on runs of 26, 18 and 12 yards.
"Me and Izaiha complement each other great," Schleimer said. "We have a couple of other running backs who can run the football, too. Joey Walton was out tonight, and I think Liam Short will get more carries as the season goes on."
Nooksack Valley punted, fumbled, went three-and-out and threw an interception on its four possessions following its first two impressive touchdown drives.
Meanwhile, Mount Baker was 6 for 6 with six TDs during its first half possessions.
Following a Myhre interception by Mount Baker's Zan Roman with under 40 seconds to go until halftime, the Mountaineers capped their 28-point second quarter on the following play with a 24-yard play action pass from Andrew Zender to Roman to take a 42-14 lead into the locker room.
"I think we had three fumbles," said Nooksack Valley coach Robb Myhre of his offense in the first half. "You get five, six, ten yards a play and then start going backwards, it's a momentum shifter. Then they were able to pin their ears back a bit."
Mount Baker continued its physical play in the second half. After giving up 206 yards in the air in the first 24 minutes, Mountaineers secondary players Roman, Dylan Howard, Kaleb Brownfield and Seth Bass put the clamps on Nooksack Valley's air attack, holding them to just 12 passing yards in the final two quarters.
Short scored from three yards out in the third, kicker Edgar Zavala nailed a 37-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter and Schleimer rumbled for a 49-yard TD to end his 245 yard rushing night, which put the Mountaineers up 59-14.
Lepper was pleased with Schleimer's and Schwinden's outing, but he gave credit to his big boys in the trenches.
Tyrel Cronk, Marcus Thomas, Chase Toctocan, Jake Oiness and Jake Larsen were Baker's front five responsible for opening up gaping holes all evening.
Tanner finished 18 for 28 with 209 yards and two TD tosses. Nooksack Valley's Curtis Handy caught six passes for 47 yards and two TDs, which came in the first 3 minutes, 39 seconds of the game.
"We have to forget about that second quarter and learn from it," Robb said. "We need to get back to our football next week."
Reach Andrew Lang at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 360-756-2862.
Nooksack Valley 14 0 0 0- 14
Mount Baker 14 28 7 10- 59
NV - Curtis Handy 7 pass from Tanner Myhre (kick fail)
MB - Jake Schleimer 55 run (Edgar Zavala kick)
NV - Handy 8 pass from Myhre (Levi Schram pass from Myhre)
MB - Schleimer 6 run (Zavala kick)
MB - Izaiha Schwinden 26 run (Zavala kick)
MB - Schwinden 18 run (Zavala kick)
MB - Schwinden 12 run (Zavala kick)
MB - Zan Roman 24 pass from Andrew Zender (Zavala kick)
MB - Liam Short 3 run (Zavala kick)
MB - Zavala 37 field goal
MB - Schleimer 49 run (Zavala kick)
First downs 14 23
Rushing Att-Yards 17-64 46-418
Comp-Att-Int 20-32-2 2-2-0
Passing yards 218 36
Penalties-yards 5-45 6-50
Fumbles-lost 3-1 2-0
RUSHING - Nooksack Valley: Tanner Myhre 7-19, Bret Rediger 4-19, Levi Schram 3-3, Trey Handy 2-15, Curtis Handy 1-8 . Mount Baker: Jake Schleimer 24-245, Izaiha Schwinden 11-116, Liam Short 5-37, Kaleb Brownfield 2-18, Travis Lindsay 1-2, Seth Bass 1-3, Andrew Zender 2-(-3) .
PASSING - Nooksack Valley: Tanner Myhre 18-28-2-209, Bret Rediger 2-4-0-9. Mount Baker: Andrew Zender 2-2-0-36.
RECEIVING - Nooksack Valley: Curtis Handy 6-47, Trey Handy 7-79, Joey Scheffer 4-74, Bret Rediger 2-15, Levi Schram 1-3. Mount Baker: Zan Roman 1-24, Izaiha Schwinden 1-12 .
Reach ANDREW LANG at email@example.com or call ext. 862.