The Meridian passing game wasn't going anywhere fast on Thursday, Oct. 25, against Mount Baker.
The Trojans completed 29 of 44 passes in the game, but those 29 completions went for only 198 yards - a 6.8 yard average.
"That was our goal coming in," Mount Baker coach Ron Lepper said. "We didn't want to give up the big play. We knew they were going to complete some passes underneath, but we didn't want to give them anything more. The key, of course, is you have to come up and make tackles, and our guys did a good job of doing that and not allowing them to get any extra yardage."
Two of Meridian's first three completions went for 12 and 15 yards. But Trojans quarterback Max McGuinn had only two more completions go for double-digit yardage the rest of the game, and both of those also were for less than 20 yards.
Backup quarterback Tanner Tutterrow had the longest completion of the night for Meridian, hooking up with Kyle Linderman for 21 yards on the game's final pass attempt.
Combine Mount Baker's pass defense with its six quarterback sacks in the second half and a run defense that allowed only 23 yards on 22 attempts, and it's no wonder why the Mountaineers were able to lock up the NWC 1A title and an automatic berth to the state playoffs.
SQUALICUM ENCOUNTERED SEVERAL FIRST HALF BAD BREAKS
By all means a 42-point loss is a tough one to swallow, but Squalicum had its chances early against Lynden - the No. 2-ranked football team in Class 2A.
Whether the absence of Luke Weber affected Storm play calling or not, they used a lot of play-action during their first few series. The chances were there time and time again, but the Storm couldn't hang on to quarterback Clark Hazlett's passes. Blaze Yetter dropped a couple balls that hit him in the hands and, as a team, Squalicum had five drops.
The inability to execute hurt, but what really burned the Storm was an inadvertent whistle during Lynden's second drive of the game.
Leading 7-0, Luke Christianson received a handoff and got the ball visibly stripped from his hands before he hit the turf. The Storm recovered the ball around midfield, but the referees huddled and gave the ball to Lynden, explaining a whistle blown before the play was over.
Later in the first half, when Lynden was leading 21-7, Squalicum's Trey Hunter intercepted backup quarterback Cameron Wainwright's first pass of the game. A score on the ensuing possession would have made the game 21-14 with the Storm receiving the opening second-half kickoff.
Unfortunately for the Storm, it wasn't able to cash in off the turnover.
"I thought our kids played hard the whole night," Squalicum coach Reed Richardson said. "We hit well. We actually made some plays. Trey made that great pick. We did some things well. That inadvertent whistle didn't help, but it is what it is. That's just a part of the game. I thought our kids played hard tonight."
WILD ENDING TO NOOKSACK-BLAINE GAME
Nooksack's relentless gang-tackling by seemingly five or six players on almost every rush by Blaine's Mario Gobbato limited Whatcom County's career rushing leader to 76 yards on 23 carries in the Pioneers' 34-28 victory in Thursday, Oct. 25.
But that didn't stop Blaine coach Jay Dodd from calling an imaginative series on Blaine's final possession for the last touchdown of a wild game. Isaiah Jackson, a junior who caught five passes for 76 yards from sophomore Nate Kramme, played a role with a key 11-yard grab to the Blaine 45-yard line following Cole Muder's 17-yard return off a short kickoff. Muder, on only his third carry of the game, then broke through Nooksack's pressure up front for a 55-yard touchdown with 2:41 remaining, followed by Muder's 2-point conversion catch from Kramme.
"We thought we would get fresh legs in there," said Dodd, who called for an onside kick. The ball squirted through a couple of players before Nooksack junior Daryk Heidt, who had not touched the ball all night but was playing on the "good hands" return team, safely smothered the football in a pileup.
The Pioneers then ran out the clock after they made one first down on Joey Scheffer's eighth catch of the game. Scheffer scored two touchdowns and caught eight passes for 123 yards from sophomore Tanner Myhre, who accounted for 436 yards total offense on 60 plays -- 294 passing while completing 24 of 42 passes and 142 yards running on 18 carries, including two 35-yard scrambles.
Tanner Myhre and his father, Nooksack coach Robb Myhre, shortly before the game learned of the unexpected death of Ken Myhre -- Robb's father and one of the Pioneers' biggest fans - but Scheffer said none of the other players knew until Robb told them immediately after the victory.
The calm weather was about as good as it gets in the north county in the last week of October, so the teams combined for one of the wildest (and longest) late-season passing games in recent Northwest Conference memory. The teams combined to complete 39 of 65 passes for 493 yards, including 177 by Kramme in a duel of potential-laden sophomore quarterbacks.
FERNDALE'S DEFENSE SHUTS DOWN ANACORTES
Ferndale's defense was the unsung hero of the final regular season game against Anacortes. The Golden Eagles only allowed 85 yards rushing and 113 passing yards.
What's even more impressive is Ferndale allowed just 73 yards in the second half.
"We were pretty sloppy in the first half," Ferndale coach Jamie Plenkovich said. "I think we came out with a lot more energy in the second half. Our defense really came out aggressive in the second."
Considering Ferndale ran for 452 yards and passed for 33, the numbers seem even more impressive.
"I told the guys at half that it's playoff time now," Plenkovich said. "We need to play with a sense of urgency every game and take advantage of everything we can get."
LOCAL OFFICIALS HEAD TO STATE
Larry LaBree, the head of the Whatcom Skagit Island Football Referees Association, announced that six referees from the area have been selected to officiate games in the Tacoma Dome during the state playoffs.
Kent Goto will serve as referee for a Class 3A semifinal. Joe Cardinale will be an umpire for a 1B semifinal. Ken Borbe will be a linesman for the 1A championship game. Ryan Wilson will be a line judge for a 4A semifinal. Pete Lockhart will be a line judge for the 3A championship game. Matt Woodruff will be the back judge for a 2B semifinal.
LYNCS STRUGGLE STOPPING AIR ATTACK
The Lynden Christian football team's biggest struggle in its loss to Friday Harbor was pass defense.
The team gave up 161 yards on three receptions, all for touchdowns.
"We played better than we have against the run but gave up some long passes," Lynden Christian coach Galen Kaemingk said. "Giving up those big passes put us behind."
The defense allowed 197 yards rushing in the loss, compared to the -5 yards Lynden Christian earned on the ground.
"It's just disappointing; the kids have been working so hard on the run defense," Kaemingk said. "We've gotten a lot better over the past few weeks, but had trouble with those long passes."
LUMMI SCORES EARLY AND OFTEN
The scoreboard didn't have enough digits for Lummi football on Thursday, Oct. 26. Lummi's videogame score of 128-68 over Tulalip was good enough to tie the record for highest-scoring game for eight-man football, according to the National High School Sports Record Book (updated through 2011 season).
Lummi's deep-passing attack worked all night against the Hawk defense. Blackhawk quarterback Jared Tom passed for 415 yards and nine touchdowns, while rushing for three touchdowns.
"I really like to throw that eight-route," Tom said, referring to when a receiver runs straight downfield and cuts toward the middle of the field at a 45-degree angle.
Tom was helped by receivers Austin Brockie and Dimitri Sampson, who danced around defenders and broke tackles on their way to the end zone.
In the first quarter, Brockie out-ran Hawks defenders, dashing from sideline to sideline while breaking two tackles on his way to a 59-yard touchdown. Sampson's big moment came in the second quarter when he hauled in a lob pass from Tom and made a move to get around his defender, breaking another tackle en route to a 56-yard touchdown.
Tulalip's D.J. Kidd gave the Hawks motivation to keep playing by returning four kickoffs for touchdowns. After quarterback Dontae Jones went down in the first quarter and was carted off the field, Tulalip was forced to switch to a run-first attack.
The Hawks rushing attack was led by Kidd and Payton Comenote who combined for 230 yards on the ground. Comenote and Kidd were unstoppable in the first three quarters, often breaking three of four tackles before being taken down, but Lummi was able to penetrate on defense in the fourth quarter and shut down the Tulalip running game.