DEMING - Zan Roman, Mount Baker's multi-talented senior standout, did everything but score a touchdown as the Mountaineers set up two huge Class 1A Northwest Conference games.
Roman even made sure to give credit to the player popular enough to be named homecoming king. That was senior linebacker Tyrel Cronk, who led a stifling defensive effort in Mount Baker's 36-7 victory over Friday Harbor on Friday, Oct. 12.
"Our defense was awesome," said Roman, the free safety, while noting that Cronk earned "most inspirational" honors as a junior and likely will again. "Tyrel's energy was dominant. His energy is our driving force. He is the heart and voice of our team."
Mount Baker's starters held the Wolverines (4-3, 0-3 NWC Class 1A) to 87 yards through the first three quarters as the Mounties (6-1, 3-0) built a 33-0 lead, thanks in large part to Roman's versatility.
Roman, who came in averaging 18.2 yards on 14 catches, outfought a defender on the left sideline on a 29-yard pass from junior quarterback Andrew Zender to the 2-yard line in the opening quarter, setting up the first of Jake Schleimer's three touchdowns.
"Zan runs great routes," said Zender, who threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to tight end Dalton Munsell for Baker's second score. Munsell - who earlier blocked a punt to set up Schleimer's second 2-yard scoring burst - was aggressively covered in the end zone but even more aggressively took the ball away from a defender.
"It's sure nice to have a guy with those moves like Zan, a guy who can jump around the over people," Zender said.
Roman, who had a 29-yard reception nullified by a penalty, also made a tough 13-yard catch late in the first half, setting up a 39-yard touchdown sprint by Schleimer, who finished with 105 yards on 15 carries. That score gave Baker a 30-0 lead, including an end zone tackle by Cronk for a safety.
But Roman wasn't through. With 14 seconds left before halftime, Mount Baker coach Ron Lepper's timeout call on Friday Harbor's series paid off when Roman returned a punt 28 yards. Edgar Zavala followed with a 37-yard field goal.
Zavala's career-long 39-yarder - set up by Roman's fumble recovery - gave the senior kicker four field goals in a three-game span. Lepper also noted Zavala's 48 points this season, including 10 against the Wolverines, moved the third-year kicker past Baker's season and career records.
Zavala's surge may give Baker an extra weapon against fellow Class 1A contenders Blaine on Oct. 19, at Blaine and Meridian on Oct. 26 at Mount Baker.
A player as skilled as Roman might have a lot more receiving yardage on a passing team, but he says he much more interested in helping Baker win any way he can.
"Getting the chance to play defense on our team totally evens it out," he said. "I think our team is the closest it has been (since he's been at Baker). The guys really like each other and we hang out together."
Baker junior Izaiha Schwinden, who gained 63 yards on 11 carries and was voted junior class royalty for homecoming, returned the second-half kickoff 82 yards to the 7, moments after the halftime celebration. The Mounties, however, didn't score.
Baker's defensive front four - Matt Scoles, Sterling Honeycutt, Hunter Gates and Munsell - was a major factor in limiting Friday Harbor to 31 yards on 32 rushes.
The Mounties amassed 250 yards on 50 plays, but face plenty more work in preparation for the Borderites and Trojans. Lepper's offensive line of Jake Larsen, Jake Oiness, Cody Larson, Chase Toctocan and Cronk made plenty of holes and helped Schleimer move within 52 yards of a 1,000-yard season.
"We took care of business and played with a lot of defensive intensity," said Lepper, whose team is now averaging 42.6 points per game - among the best in Baker's history.
Friday Harbor 0 0 0 7- 7
Mount Baker 16 17 0 3- 36
MB - Jake Schleimer 2 run (Edgar Zavala kick)
MB - Schleimer 2 run (Zavala kick)
MB - Safety, Tyrel Cronk tackled Micah Powell in end zone
MB - Dalton Munsell 10 pass from Andrew Zender (Zavala kick)
MB - Schleimer 42 run (Zavala kick)
MB - Zavala 37 field goal
MB - Zavala 39 field goal
FH - Donald Galt 36 pass from C.J. Woods
First downs 9 18
Rushing Att-Yards 32-31 43-194
Comp-Att-Int 8-23-0 4-7-1
Passing yards 120 56
Penalties-yards 6-40 6-50
Fumbles-lost 3-1 3-1
RUSHING - Friday Harbor: Micah Powell 12-20, Dylan Radden 3-20, Nathan Steenkolk 8-9, Donald Galt 2-(minus 9), C.J. Woods 5-(minus 16), Ryan Allen 1-10, Willie Blackmon 1-(minus 3). Mount Baker: Jake Schleimer 15-105, Izaiha Schwinden 11-63, Andrew Zender 6-(minus 21), Dylan Howard 1-10, Joey Walton 5-17, Kaleb Brownfield 2-16, Liam Short 3-4.
PASSING - Friday Harbor: C.J. Woods 8-20-120-0; Donald Galt 0-3-0-0. Mount Baker: Andrew Zender 4-7-56-1.
RECEIVING - Friday Harbor: Donald Galt 4-86, Ryan Allen 2-20, Dylan Radden 1-11, Nathan Steenkolk 1-3. Mount Baker: Zan Roman 2-42, Dalton Munsell 1-10, Izaiha Schwinden 1-4.