TACOMA - Lynden was supposed to be tested in its Class 2A state semifinal against Capital on Friday, Nov. 23.
The Cougars, who entered having averaged 47.7 points per game during a seven-game win streak, were thought to have the best offense the Lions had seen since a Week 1 loss to King's. With a big, athletic offensive line and a dangerous senior running back in range of breaking the state's single-season rushing record set earlier this year by Blaine's Mario Gobbato, Capital actually was supposed to be a challenge for Lynden.
But the Lions' defense made Capital look just as ineffective as it has its past 11 opponents, holding the Cougars scoreless for the first 251/2 minutes of the game, allowing its high-powered offense to run wild as expected in a 48-21 victory that sent Lynden on to the state championship game for the 10th time in the program's history and the fifth time in seven years.
"I figured they'd score 21 points on us, and they did," Lynden coach Curt Kramme said. "I just didn't realize they'd come against our second string. I guess they got one with our first string in, but I thought our defense played outstanding today."
That it was, as Lynden still has not allowed a point in the first half of four postseason games this season.
In fact, they've outscored Sultan, Mark Morris, Sumner and now Capital by a combined 151-0 count in the first half.
On Friday, the Lions' recipe was pretty simple - stop running back Kai Van Sickle.
"We knew that they depended a lot on their running back," Lynden linebacker Jaremy Martin said. "We knew if we could take him away - take away their first option - they'd go down."
That's exactly what Lynden did, limiting Van Sickle to 57 yards on 18 first-half attempts.
In fact, Van Sickle did not have a run of more than 8 yards on his first 22 attempts. By the time Van Sickle bounced a 37-yard touchdown run around the right end with 10:21 remaining to play, Lynden already held a 34-0 lead.
"Our line did a great job of slanting in and getting penetration and allowing our defensive ends and linebackers to get in and make the tackle," Martin said. "They were outstanding up front."
That was particularly impressive, especially when you consider that the Lynden line consists of players like 6-foot, 180-pound Trent Postma and 5-10, 165-pound Gabe Kaemingk, who were outweighed by more than 50 pounds per man.
"We just needed to stay low and disrupt what their line was trying to do," Kaemingk said. "That's my job - to let the linebackers make the tackles. They may get all the glory, but hey, we got the win, and that's all that matters."
Van Sickle rushed for 85 yards on nine fourth-quarter carries, many of which came against Lynden's reserves, to finish with 166 yards and two TDs. That gave him 2,757 this season, which according to Rosalia's Dave Maley, who keeps the most complete state records at gridironbeez.com, gave him the single-season record.
Maley does not credit Gobbato with the 160 yards he gained in Blaine's tie-breaker wins over Nooksack Valley and Meridian or its Class 1A Northwest District Playoff loss to Meridian. With the yards from the tie breakers (18 yards) and the playoff half game (142), Gobbato had 2,821 yards.
State record or not, Van Sickle just didn't have an impact on the game when it was still a game, thanks to Lynden's stingy defense.
And with him basically stuck in neutral, Capital was going nowhere. In fact in the first half, the Cougars managed only 82 total yards of offense.
"It was a good team effort by everyone," Lynden safety Zach Vis said. "Everybody did their part. We did a good job of making sure he (Van Sickle) didn't fall forward when we tackled him. We wrapped up and stopped him there. Everybody did their job, and we got a big win."
Reach David Rasbach at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-715-2286.
Reach DAVID RASBACH at email@example.com or call 715-2271.