BELLINGHAM - There's no way to hide it - defense has been a struggle for the Bellingham football team all season long.
Through the first four games of the 2012 season, the Red Raiders allowed an average of 47.3 points and 406.4 yards per game.
The good news was that in three of those four games, they were able put up some points, themselves, to at least make things a little more respectable and give the team some hope.
But that offense simply didn't show up on Saturday, Sept. 29, in a game the Red Raiders came into thinking they had a legitimate shot to notch their first victory. The result was disastrous, as Bellingham was overwhelmed 54-13 by Sedro-Woolley in a Northwest Conference 2A/3A game.
"They played more physical than us," Bellingham first-year coach Steve Wilson said. "I really don't know what else to say."
Bellingham (0-5, 0-3 NWC 2A/3A) simply couldn't buy a stop in the first half, as Sedro-Woolley scored touchdowns on its first five offensive possessions. In fact, the only thing to stop the Cubs in the half wasn't the Bellingham defense, it was the scoreboard clock, when it expired after Sedro (2-3, 1-2) started its sixth drive on its own 37 only 44.8 seconds before halftime.
In all, the Cubs piled up 307 yards of total offense in the half, including 201 on the ground - much of which came after first contact, as Red Raiders tacklers just couldn't find a way to wrap up with any consistency.
"Our tackling has got to improve," Wilson said. "Our toughness has got improve. We have to play a lot tougher than we did tonight."
Bellingham actually jumped on top, when it took the opening kickoff and drove 70 yards on 12 plays. Justin Pruett, who was coming off a 320-yard passing performance last week against Blaine, capped it off with a 23-yard touchdown pass to Darice Haywood, who stuck with a ball tipped by Sedro defensive back Seth Noble.
But the Cubs responded with a 64-yard drive capped off with 4-yard run by Shawn Kennedy.
Just when it seemed the teams were settling in for a track meet, Francisco Tovar's kickoff that appeared headed for the end zone and a touchback took a weird hop and died at the Bellingham 1. Isaiah White smartly picked it up, but was tackled at the 3, and Bellingham wasn't able to produce a first down - in fact, they picked up only four more all night.
After a nice punt return by Kyle Robbins, Braden Blouin hit Mason Elms, who split a pair of Bellingham failed arm tackles on his way to a 27-yard touchdown and the Cubs' first lead of the game.
Elms and Blouin hooked up once more before the end of the first quarter, before Clayton Johnson and Kennedy added 8- and 1-yard touchdown runs in the second quarter to make it 35-7 at the half.
The Cubs picked up right where they left off after halftime, as their first two possessions ended in the end zone with Kyle Morgan finding Elms from 8 yards out on the first and Kennedy from 23 yards with the help of a few more missed Bellingham tackles to start the running clock.
Kennedy finished with 145 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries and added the 23-yard touchdown reception. Elms caught four passes for 73 yards and the three touchdowns.
Haywood was the lone bright spot for Bellingham, as he caught three passes for 79 yards and two touchdowns.
Before the game, Bellingham honored astronaut Steve Oswald, who graduated from the school in 1969.
Reach David Rasbach at email@example.com or 360-715-2286.
Sedro-Woolley 21 14 13 6- 54
Bellingham 7 0 0 6- 13
Bel - Darice Haywood 23 pass from Justin Pruett (Kaleb Smartt kick)
SW - Shawn Kennedy 4 run (Francisco Tovar kick)
SW - Mason Elms 27 pass from Braden Blouin (Tovar kick)
SW - Elms 20 pass from Blouin (Tovar kick)
SW - Clayton Johnson 1 run (Tovar kick)
SW - Kennedy 8 run (Tovar kick)
SW - Elms 8 pass from Kyle Morgan (Tovar kick)
SW - Kennedy 23 pass from Morgan (Tovar kick)
SW - Tanner Newton 11 run (run failed)
Bel - Haywood 56 pass from Kyle Redmond (kick failed)
First downs 22 8
Rushing Att-Yards 45-333 16-33
Comp-Att-Int 9-11-0 7-22-0
Passing yards 167 139
Penalties-yards 10-84 7-55
Fumbles-lost 3-1 2-0
RUSHING - Sedro-Woolley: Shawn Kennedy 19-145, Kyle Morgan 5-55, Mason Elms 3-29, Clayton Johnson 5-59, Tanner Newton 4-26, Carter Crosby 1-4, Quinn Carpenter 4-13, Michael Nelson 1-1, Devin Willard 2-(-7) Jacob Kennedy 1-8. Bellingham: Kyle Redmond 3-11, Marques Reynolds 7-24, Melvin Deal 5-7, Justin Pruett 1-(-9).
PASSING - Sedro-Woolley: Braden Blouin 6-8-0-106, Kyle Morgan 3-3-0-61. Bellingham: Justin Pruett 5-16-0-76, Kyle Redmond 2-6-0-63.
RECEIVING - Sedro-Woolley: Mason Elms 4-73, Clayton Johnson 1-36, Justin Biggs 1-6, Kyle Morgan 1-(-1), Ethan VanLiew 1-25, Shawn Kennedy 1-28. Bellingham: Kyle Redmond 2-21, Darice Haywood 3-79, Melvin Deal 1-32, Cyrus Davies 1-7.
Reach DAVID RASBACH at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 715-2271.