BELLINGHAM - Most any grade schooler can tell you the story of the tortoise and the hare, and how slow and steady wins the race.
But what that old fable forgot to teach us is the Lynden Lions' approach to the race - burry an opponent before they even know the race has started.
For the second straight week, the Lynden football team used a lightning-fast start and a big performance from senior running back Luke Christianson to decimate a playoff opponent's hopes well before halftime, as the Lions ripped past Mark Morris 42-14 in the first round of the Class 2A State Playoffs on Saturday, Nov. 10, at Civic Stadium.
Much like it did a week earlier in a Northwest District playoff win over Sultan when it led 42-0 at halftime, Lynden jumped out 14-0 in the game's first 41/2 minutes, extended that lead to 28-0 by the end of the period and held a 35-0 advantage by halftime.
"All week long, we talked about how we wanted to come out and set the tone early," said Christianson, who scored five touchdowns for the second-straight week and rushed for 151 yards on 15 carries. "We knew they were a big, physical team that wanted to come out and run the ball, and we figured if we came out and set the tone in the trenches and got off to a good start against them, we'd take control of the game. And you could see, they way we came out, and when we put three touchdowns on them in the first (nine) minutes, they were shell shocked."
That would be one way to put it.
"We sucked the life right out of them," senior lineman Caleb Newman said. "They didn't know what hit them."
By the time the Monarchs figured it out, Lynden (10-1) was making plans to travel to Sumner for a quarterfinal game that will be scheduled for either Friday or Saturday, Nov. 16 or 17.
It's unlikely the Lions are going to want to change their approach on how to start games.
"We want to be aggressive right from the start and set the tone," Lynden coach Curt Kramme said. "I've even gotten so I won't defer if we win the (coin) toss. I'd rather put the offense out there on the field and let them do what they do best."
What the Lions did best on Saturday - just like a week earlier - was get the ball in Christianson's hands and let him use his athletic talents behind their big, physical offensive line.
After winning the coin toss and electing to receive, Lynden took the opening possession and marched 70 yards on 6 plays, consuming only 1 minute, 46 seconds of the clock.
Christianson, who capped it off with a nifty 15-yard touchdown run, accounted for 54 of the 70 yards on four carries. The other two plays were an incompletion and a 16-yard keeper by quarterback Josh Kraght.
"It all comes back to our line," Christianson said. "They all do an incredible job up front. It's kind of neat to see a play develop behind those guys."
Christianson didn't get to admire the line's handiwork on Lynden's second possession, as he instead broke out to the slot on the first play and beat the Mark Morris secondary on a slant route for a 53-yard touchdown to make it 14-0 with 7:24 still remaining in the first quarter.
Christianson's 10-yard run off a nice block from left tackle Matt Meyer made it 21-0 with 3:45 still left in the opening period, before Kraght hit Zach Vis on a deep route, and the all-state receiver managed to keep his balance after being spun around and turn the play into a 70-yard TD and a 28-0 lead with 48.7 seconds remaining in the first.
Kraght finished with 238 yards passing and two TDs, while Vis caught seven passes for 145 yards and even got to play quarterback on a second-quarter touchdown drive that ended with a 1-yard Christianson TD run.
Christianson later added a 19-yard TD on the Lions' first drive in the third quarter to put the game on ice and start the running clock.
So how efficient was Lynden's quick start?
In the first half, Lynden ran 32 offensive plays. Seventeen of them resulted in a first down or a touchdown.
The Lions' defense also was instrumental in the quick start, limiting the Monarchs to five first-half first downs, and just like on offense, that can be attributed to the play up front.
"We wanted to come out and dominate in the trenches," Newman said. "We knew we had to come out and play physical, and we ended up taking the wind right out of them."
And with the big lead, Christianson, Newman, Meyer, Vis, Kraght and the rest of Lynden's talented senior class got to sit back and enjoy their final time on a football field in Whatcom County.
"I'd say this is a pretty good way for those guys to go out," Kramme said. "That's quite a group of guys. They've done a number of things that a number of high school kids can't do. Hopefully they're not done yet, of course. I heard a quote this week, and I'm sure it's not original, but we want to be 1-0 every week. We did that this week, and now we need to get ready and try to go 1-0 next week."
Reach David Rasbach at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-715-2286.
Mark Morris 0 0 0 0- 14
Lynden 28 7 7 0- 42
Lyn - Luke Christianson 15 run (Alex Otano-Guenther kick)
Lyn - Christianson 53 pass from Josh Kraght (Otano-Guenther kick)
Lyn - Christianson 10 run (Otano-Guenther kick)
Lyn - Zach Vis 70 pass from Kraght (Otano-Guenther kick)
Lyn -Christianson 1 run (Otano-Guenther kick)
Lyn - Christianson 19 run (Otano-Guenther kick)
MM -AJ Golden 28 pass from Max Tilton (Riley Johnston kick)
MM - Weston Robinson 29 run (Johnston kick)
First downs 14 23
Rushing Att-Yards 41-180 26-221
Comp-Att-Int 8-9-0 14-20-0
Passing yards 68 251
Penalties-yards 4-29 1-15
Fumbles-lost 3-0 1-1
RUSHING - Mark Morris: Ryan Littlefield 5-17, Max Tilton 4-(-26), Keigan Baker 14-73, Austin Johnson 14-63, Austin Smith 2-16, Hayden Tapani 1-8, Weston Robinson 1-29. Lynden: Luke Christianson 15-151, Josh Kraght 5-33, Zach Vis 2-17, Colby Spady 1-1, Ryan Mouat 1-13, Jesse Fremolaro 1-0, Cameron Wainwright 1-6.
PASSING - Mark Morris: Max Tilton 8-9-0-68. Lynden: Josh Kraght 13-17-0-238, Zach Vis 1-1-0-13, Cameron Wainwright 0-2-0-0.
RECEIVING - Mark Morris: Nate Teeters 1-13, Keigan Baker 2-3, AJ Golden 3-39, Seth Huhta 1-9, Austin Johnson 1-4. Lynden: Luke Christianson 3-78, Zach Vis 7-145, Jalani Pehlps 1-6, Jaremy Martin 1-13, John Shine 1-6, Dak Shagren 1-3.
Reach DAVID RASBACH at email@example.com or call 715-2271.