Fourteen points - the equivalent of two measly touchdowns - is all that separates the Lynden football team's talented senior class from perfection up to this point over its unforgettable three-year run with the varsity program.
Those 14 points resulted in a pair of losses - a 42-39 loss at King's to open this season and a 21-10 defeat against Tumwater in the first round of the 2010 Class 2A state playoffs at Civic Stadium.
In fact, you can almost give the Lions a pass on that King's loss this season, as Lynden didn't find out it was even playing the Knights until after Centennial, B.C., called and canceled the originally scheduled season opener only about 36 hours before kickoff.
So in terms of teams that Lynden has actually had a chance to prepare for, Tumwater is the only team to get the better of Lynden over the past three years since this year's seniors started trickling into the starting lineup.
And you better believe that sticks in the Lions' memories, just a little.
They'll get a chance to avenge that loss at 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1, when the two schools once again meet in the state playoffs - this time in the 2A state championship game at the Tacoma Dome.
"This is our last game together," Lynden senior linebacker Jose Martinez said in a phone interview. "And it's for the state title. We really want to win this game, no matter what. The fact that we have a chance to beat a team that beat us when we were sophomores, you know that would make it a little sweeter if we can do it."
While many of the faces are the same for Lynden (12-1) from the last time the two teams met - just two years more experienced - Tumwater (12-1) is a different squad.
"That was a special team in 2010 for us, just as this is a special team for them this year," legendary Tumwater coach Sid Otton said in a phone interview. "They had a number of sophomores playing for them then, and obviously they're very experienced now, just like we had a lot of experience that year. This year's team is completely different for us. At the start of the year, we had only one returning player on offense and one returning player on defense."
But don't let a lack of experience fool you into thinking Tumwater is short on talent.
There's a reason the Thunderbirds advanced to their second state championship game in three years and the sixth in school history.
And a big part of that reason is senior half back Andrew Brown, who leads the team in rushing, receiving and touchdowns with 24 this year.
"Andrew is a special player, and we were very fortunate to have him," Otton said. "If we can find a way to get him in space, he's fun to watch. The things he can do with the ball are amazing. He played a big role in helping us through some struggles early in the season when we were getting our feet on the ground. Fortunately, we won some close games and came together as a team and got better."
While Brown was the Evergreen 2A Conference MVP this season, teammate Jamie Bryant was the conference Defensive MVP at defensive tackle.
"They are big and strong and hard to block up front with Jamie Brown," said Capital coach John Johnson, who was the only coach to face both Tumwater (a 35-28 double overtime loss on Sept. 22 in conference play) and Lynden (a 48-21 state semifinal loss on Nov. 23). "They're obviously a very well-coached football team. You have to be prepared for the things they do. Brown is big and dynamic, and Christian (Cummings) is playing really well for them right now."
On top of a talented roster, the Thunderbirds have the winningest coach in state history standing on their sideline in Otton.
"You better be on your game," Johnson said. "They use a lot of misdirection out of their Wing-T, and just when you think you've seen it all, old Sid will pull out a new trick and catch you."
There were no tricks used on Lynden's part to beat Capital last week - it was just an old-fashioned blowout, as Lynden scored 27 first-half points and started the running clock for the 10th time this season early in the fourth quarter.
"Lynden has got a dude at every single position," Johnson said. "They're big, physical and fast. They fly around on defense. Their offense poses a bunch of problems. They don't have a real weak spot. You've got to match them athlete for athlete, and that's pretty tough to do, because they've always got 11 of them on the field."
Josh Kraght, who rushed for 103 yards and four first-half touchdowns and passed for 270 yards and another score last week, has been a three-year starter for the Lions at quarterback, and he's joined in the backfield by Luke Christianson, who has scored 13 touchdowns in four playoff games.
All-state receiver Zach Vis leads a talented receiving core, while Caleb Newman and Washington-state bound Matt Meyer are outstanding bookends on Lynden's offensive line and at defensive end.
"You've got to get Lynden in third-and-long situations and get them to punt," Johnson said. "You've got to remember about No. 11 (Vis) on the perimeter and No. 3 (Kraght). You can't just dial in to stop the run against them. Really, you can't dial in either way. You've just got to find a way to get them in situations they're uncomfortable in."
So, after having seen both teams, who does Johnson think will be crowed 2A champs in the battle of the two teams that have raised the trophy the past four years (Lynden also won in 2008 and 2009, as well as 2006)?
"Lynden will probably come out on top," he said. "I think they're a solid football team. They play great defense, offense and special teams. I just think this is their year."
That sounds just fine to a group of Lynden seniors trying to go out with back-to-back state titles and avenge one of their few losses.
"These guys have set winning a title as their goal, but even if they don't do that they're going to be successful," Lynden coach Curt Kramme said in a phone interview. "They'd be disappointed if they don't win, of course, but it's not life and death. They come from good families and it's been a lot of fun working with them, and I look forward to watching many of them in the future."
Reach David Rasbach at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-715-2286.
Schools with the most WIAA state high school football championships:
No. School Classifications
10 Bellevue* 4A (1), 3A (9)
6 LaCrosse/Washtucna 1B (6)
6 Lynden* 2A (4), 1A (2)
6 Skyline* 4A (4), 3A (2)
5 DeSales 2B (5)
5 Royal* 1A (5)
5 Tumwater* 4A (1), 3A (3), 2A (1)
4 Colton 2B (4)
4 Curtis 4A (4)
4 Inchelium 1B (4)
4 Prosser 3A (3), 2A (1)
4 Raymond 1A (3), 2B (1)
4 Reardan 2B (1)
4 Touchet 1B (4)
4 Willapa Valley 2B (4)
3 Almira-Coulee/Hartline 2B (1), 1B (2)
3 Connell 2A (1), 1A (2)
3 Eatonville 1A (3)
3 Meridian 2A (2), 1A (1)
3 O'Dea 3A (3)
3 Pasco 4A (3)
*Playing in 2012 Gridiron Classic
CLASS 2A STATE CHAMPIONSHIP GAMES
Year Champion (record) Runner up (record) Score
1997 Elma (12-1) Pullman (11-2) 37-34
1998 Othello (11-2) Elma (11-2) 53-21
1999 Meridian (13-0) Yakima East Valley (11-2) 57-14
2000 Omak (11-2) Meridian (12-1) 30-14
2001 Elma (12-1) Othello (11-2) 43-22
2002 Connell (12-1) Elma (11-2) 41-14
2003 Meridian (14-0) Pullman (11-3) 34-10
2004 Othello (10-4) Yakima East Valley (13-1) 31-21
2005 Pullman (14-0) Archbishop Murphy (14-1) 28-24
2006 Lynden (13-1) Centralia (12-2) 14-10
2007 Prosser (14-0) Burlington-Edison (12-2) 42-7
2008 Lynden (12-2) Prosser (13-1) 35-34, 2OT
2009 Lynden (13-1) Spokane West Valley (13-1) 16-6
2010 Tumwater (13-1) Archbishop Murphy (13-1) 34-14
2011 Lynden (14-0) Archbishop Murphy (12-2) 17-16
CLASS 2A CHAMPIONSHIP GAME RECORDS
Most points scored: 20, Todd Basler, Elma (vs. Othello), 2001
Most touchdowns: 3, 3 players; most recent: Steve Natho, Prosser(vs. Burlington-Edison), 2007
Most PATs: 6, Joel Pears, Meridian (vs. East Valley, Yak), 1999
Total offense: 421, Jeff Bennum, Meridian (vs. East Valley, Yak), 1999
Most rushes: 35, Todd Basler, Elma (vs. Othello), 2001
Most yards rushing: 250, Steven Stoker, Connell (vs. Elma), 2002
Most TD rushes: 3, Steve Natho, Prosser (vs. Burlington-Edison), 2007
Most passes attempted: 44, Kyle Basler, Elma (vs. Othello), 1998
Most passes completed: 25, Jeff Bennum, Meridian (vs. East Valley, Yak), 1999
Most passes had intercepted: 7, 2 players; most recent: Eli Slesk, Meridian (vs. Omak), 2000
Most yards passing: 390, Jeff Bennum, Meridian (vs. East Valley, Yak), 1999
Most TD passes: 5, Jeff Bennum, Meridian (vs. East Valley, Yak), 1999
Most receptions: 14, Kirby Moore, Prosser (vs. Lynden), 2008
Most yards receiving: 267, Kirby Moore, Prosser (vs. Lynden), 2008
Most TD receptions: 3, 2 players; most recent: Kirby Moore, Prosser(vs. Lynden), 2008
Most punts: 5, Brandt Kaemingk, Omak (vs. Meridian), 2000
Most interceptions: 6, Curtis Hurlbert, Omak (vs. Meridian), 2000
Most fumble recoveries: 1, many players
Longest run: 83, Isaac Jahns, Othello (vs. Elma), 1998
Longest TD run: 83, Isaac Jahns, Othello (vs. Elma), 1998
Longest pass play: 80, Isaac Jahns to Ramon Perez, Othello (vs. Elma), 1998
Longest TD pass play: 80, Isaac Jahns to Ramon Perez, Othello (vs. Elma), 1998
Longest punt: 63, Kyle Basler, Elma (vs. Pullman), 1997
Longest punt return: 21, Kyle Hinrichs, Pullman (vs. Meridian), 2003
Longest kickoff return: 90, Cole Sheridan, Pullman (vs. Elma), 1997
Longest interception return: 76, Curtis Hurlbert, Omak (vs. Meridian), 2000
Longest fumble return: 30, Cody Bowden, Meridian (vs. Pullman), 2003
Longest field goal: 52, Carlos Gil, Connell (vs. Elma), 2002
Most first downs: 32, Meridian (vs. East Valley, Yak), 1999
Total offense: 596, Othello (vs. Elma), 1998
Most rushes: 59, Archbishop Murphy (vs. Lynden), 2011
Most yards rushing: 406, Othello (vs. Elma), 1998
Least yards rushing: 5, Pullman (vs. Meridian), 2003
Most yards passing: 392, Prosser (vs. Lynden), 2008
Least yards passing: 52, Omak (vs. Meridian), 2000
Most return yards: 182, Pullman (vs. Elma), 1997
Most passes attempted: 44, Elma (vs. Othello), 1998
Most passes completed: 25, 2 teams; most recent: Prosser (vs. Lynden), 2008
Most passes had intercepted: 7, 2 teams; most recent: Meridian (vs. Omak), 2000
Most punts: 5, 2 teams; most recent: Prosser (vs. Lynden), 2008
Most fumbles: 5, Meridian (vs. East Valley, Yak), 1999
Most fumbles lost: 3, 4 teams; most recent: East Valley (Yak) (vs. Othello), 2004
Most penalties: 9, 2 teams; most recent: Othello (vs. East Valley, Yak), 2004
Most yards penalized: 82, Pullman (vs. Meridian), 2003
Most points scored: 57, Meridian (vs. East Valley, Yak), 1999
Highest losing score: 34, Pullman (vs. Elma), 1997
Most points one quarter: 22, 2 teams; most recent: Meridian (vs. East Valley, Yak), 1999
Largest margin: 43 (Meridian 57, East Valley, Yak 14), 1999
Reach DAVID RASBACH at email@example.com or call 715-2271.