THE BELLINGHAM HERALDSeptember 6, 2013 

LUMMI AT POMEROY

Time: 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 6

Site: Pomeroy

Blackhawks update: After advancing to the Class 1B state semifinals in 2012 and finishing with a 10-3 record, the Blackhawks appear loaded to make another run toward the postseason this year. Logan Toby (987 yards, 13 TDs passing) takes over as starting QB and will direct a high-powered Lummi offensive attack that averaged 60.5 points per game last year. Lummi did graduate its top running back from last year, Dimitri Sampson, but there are a host of other talented options.

Pirates update: Pomeroy finished 2-8 in 2012 and did not advance to the postseason. After falling 64-28 in the season opener at Lummi last year, when some of their top players got injured, the Pirates won two of their next three games, but finished the season on a six-game losing streak.

Player to watch: Lummi WR Austin Brockie caught 31 passes for 829 yards and 11 TDs last season, and along with Dean Williams gives the Blackhawks a pair of lockdown corners so the rest of the defense can focus on stopping the run.

Key to the game: Judging by last year's score when the two teams met in Lummi's first game on its new artificial surface, the biggest obstacle the Blackhawks will have to overcome is the 375-mile trip each way to the tiny town located 30 miles east of Lewiston, Idaho.

Herald's pick: Lummi 48-21

ANACORTES AT FRIDAY HARBOR

Time: 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 6

Site: Friday Harbor High School

Seahawks update: Anacortes will break in new coach Dustin South and a host of new players with a trip on the ferry. Andrew Medalia moves from quarterback to receiver. Logan Eby shifts over a few spots from the line to tight end. The Seahawks will attempt to improve upon their one win from 2012.

Wolverines update: Friday Harbor, which went 6-4 but finished out of the NWC 1A playoff race with only one conference win, returns its top player from last year in RB/LB Nathan Steenkolk (874 yards, 12 TDs rushing). Quarterback C.J. Woods (532 yards, 7 TDs passing) also is back, but the Wolverines will have a new coach in Richard Ledford, who returns after six seasons off.

Player to watch: Anacortes will start converted running back Jared Douglas at quarterback in an attack that will look to pass a little more often this year.

Key to the game: Friday Harbor plans to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the program with a pregame ceremony, so look for the Wolverines to be amped up.

Herald's pick: Friday Harbor 35-14

MERIDIAN AT BURLINGTON-EDISON

Time: 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 6

Site: Burlington-Edison High School

Trojans update: Meridian enters the season with a lot of holes to fill, including at quarterback, where Tanner Tutterrow was expected to take the reins, but a shoulder injury may limit him. RB Letrez Jones (469 yards, 6 TDs rushing) has looked good in practices and OL/DL Spencer Blackburn is garnering some college interest. After a slow start, the Trojans finished 8-5 last year and advanced to the first round of the state playoffs for a fifth straight year.

Tigers update: After an up-and-down season that saw the Tigers advance to the 2A state quarterfinals, Burlington returns a number of key pieces, including lineman Patrick Milstead and running backs Jae Evans (543 yards, 10 TDs rushing) and Timmie Rush. Mason Schwetz will take over at quarterback.

Player to watch: Sam Chambers is the Trojans' top returning receiving threat, after he caught 28 passes for 315 yards and two touchdowns last year.

Key to the game: Meridian lost 42-8 to Burlington in the season opener last year - the first of two lopsided losses - and wants to avoid a similar start this year.

Herald's pick: Burlington-Edison 38-24

MOUNT VERNON AT SEDRO-WOOLLEY

Time: 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 6

Site: Sedro-Woolley High School

Bulldogs update: Mount Vernon's first season in the Wesco 4A ranks didn't go so well, as the Bulldogs finished at the bottom of the North Division standings with a 3-7 record. Tristan Brock should be the top returning rusher (342 yards, 5 TDs), though he may take over at quarterback. Melvin Walser led the team with 948 yards and 7 TDs receiving.

Cubs update: Sedro made some good strides in 2012, finishing 4-6 overall and missing a tie for the NWC 2A postseason spots by one game. The Cubs should return quarterback Braden Blouin (1,050 yards, 10 TDs passing) and his top target Mason Elms (453 yards, 8 TDs receiving).

Player to watch: Sedro-Woolley running back Shawn Kennedy rushed for 1,044 yards and 9 TDs in 2012. Look for big things from him in 2012.

Key to the game: Sedro-Woolley debuts on its new artificial playing surface, so you know the Cubs want to break it in with a win over a Skagit County rival.

Herald's pick: Sedro-Woolley 28-17

BLAINE AT FERNDALE

Time: 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 6

Site: Ferndale High School

Borderites update: After a last-play loss in the 1A Northwest District playoffs last year, Blaine desperately wants to get back this year. Cole Muder (348 yards, 3 TDs rushing) takes over at running back for legend Mario Gobbato, but the Borderites have been working hard to install a new spread offense. How much QB Nate Kramme (809 yards, 8 TDs passing) gets to throw early remains to be seen, but Blaine's primary focus is defense and special teams.

Golden Eagles update: A much more unified Ferndale squad made it back to the Class 3A state playoffs and challenged eventual state champion Bellevue in the first round, but the Golden Eagles lost their top three running backs. Joey Akers (132 yards, 3 TDs) and Anthony Fleck (238 yards, 2 TDs) should be among those that help replace them, and QB Cooper Clark (386 yards, 5 TDs passing) also is back. With a smaller team, Ferndale will focus on swarming on defense.

Player to watch: Ferndale RB Brady Bauthues averaged 20.9 yards per carry (8 carries, 167 yards, 4 TDs) last year and could be a standout at linebacker.

Key to the game: Both teams are undergoing some major personnel changes, so whichever team is able to find cohesiveness in Week 1 should have a huge advantage.

Herald's pick: Ferndale 21-17

OMAK AT LYNDEN CHRISTIAN

Time: 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 6

Site: Lynden Christian

Pioneers update: Omak had another tough year in the Caribou Trail League in 2012, finishing 2-8 overall. Lynden Christian coach Galen Kaemingk coached the Pioneers from 1994 to 2005, leading them to the state playoffs four times and to the 2000 Class 2A state title with a championship game win over Meridian.

Lyncs update: After starting the season 4-0, including a 39-0 season-opening win at Omak last year, LC dropped its final six games. The Lyncs hope to avoid a similar fate with an improved defense under former head coach Dan Kaemingk, who is bringing an aggressive, physical attitude to the defense. RB Josh Friberg (369 yards, 6 TDs rushing) should be able to do the same for the offense, while quarterback Daulton Hommes (902 yards, 6 TDs passing) should be a good leader.

Player to watch: Lyncs WR/CB Alex Vander Velden returns after missing most of last season with a broken foot and should lead a young, speedy receiving corps.

Key to the game: LC received some unexpected depth on the offensive line with the return of three seniors after a year off. That unit needs to jell to give Hommes and Friberg room to operate.

Herald's pick: Lynden Christian 39-0

SQUALICUM AT KINGSTON

Time: 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 6

Site: Kingston High School

Storm update: Squalicum made it back to the 2A Northwest District playoffs last year, but now it would like to go a little further and make it to state for the first time. The Storm has a number of talented athletes back to make such goals possible. With so many talented skill position players, the Storm plans to utilize the spread formation more on offense, creating more targets for QB Clark Hazlett (941 yards, 9 TDs passing in 2013). Ben Garcia was his top receiver last year (379 yards, 4 TDs).

Buccaneers update: Kingston finished third in the Olympic League and advanced to the first round of 2A state playoffs before losing to Sumner to finish 6-5 overall. The Buccaneers traveled to Bellingham last year and suffered a season-opening 27-10 loss to Squalicum. Receiver Nathan Carleton caught an 18-yard TD in the game, and he should return.

Player to watch: Squalicum RB Luke Weber led the team with 939 yards and 15 TDs last year, and he figures to be a big part of anything Squalicum does this year.

Key to the game: The Storm has spent a lot of offseason work focusing on improving on defense, after it allowed nearly 2,000 yards rushing in 2012. Look for Squalicum defenders to wrap up.

Herald's pick: Squalicum 34-10

KING'S VS. LYNDEN

Time: 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 7

Site: Husky Stadium, Seattle

Knights update: King's made it through the regular season with an unblemished record but lost to eventual state champion Montesano in the 1A state quarterfinals. A big part of their success, quarterback Billy Green, is now at BYU, though the Knights do have their leading rusher, Trevor Hansen (777 yards, 6 TDs) back and a key lineman or two. The Knights handed Lynden its only loss of the past two years in a 42-39 season-opening shootout last year.

Lions update: Lynden needs to replace 19 of the 22 starters it used to win its second straight 2A state title in December, but the cupboard is far from bare. WR Jalani Phelps (569 yards, 7 TDs) is getting college looks and could emerge as a standout at DE. LB Jaremy Martin brings a toughness to the Lions defense and will team up with Trent Postma, who moves back from the line. Postma (293 yards, 5 TDs) also should be a star at running back alongside new starting quarterback Lucas Petersen.

Player to watch: Lynden must replace its entire starting five on the offensive line, but Bryce Sterk has been waiting his turn to start. He's athletic enough the Lions may end up using him on both sides of the ball.

Key to the game: Both teams will attempt to replace highly successful quarterbacks. Whichever team's supporting cast gives their new signal caller the most help should emerge with an Emerald City Kickoff Classic victory.

Herald's pick: Lynden 35-24

NOOKSACK VALLEY AT SEHOME

Time: 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 7

Site: Civic Stadium

Pioneers update: Nooksack Valley has built its hopes around three very athletic skill-position players in quarterback Tanner Myhre (1,897 yards, 21 TDs passing; 709 yards, 8 TDs rushing in 2013) and WRs Curtis Handy (333 yards, 5 TDs receiving) and Josh Gimmaka. All three also factor heavily into the team's plans on defense. Leni Halaapiapi, Blake Warner and J Snider return on the offensive line, but junior Lathan Halaapiapi could be the Pioneers' top linemen on both sides.

Mariners update: Daniel Ziegler broke onto the scene after transferring from California rushing for 521 yards and 11 TDs, passing for 197 yards and 2 TDs and catching 9 passes for 136 yards and a TD. He'll likely play mostly QB this year and have top target Taylor Rapp (250 yards, 2 TDs) join him in the backfield, giving the Mariners two outstanding playmakers as they try to get over the hump and into the playoffs. Sam Diehl could emerge as the top receiving threat.

Player to watch: Sehome OL Drew Norvell is part of a trio of big, physical interior linemen. All three are juniors, meaning Sehome can build around them for the next two years.

Key to the game: Sehome won last year's season opener between the two 17-6 at Nooksack, but this is supposed to be the first game on the new turf at Civic Stadium. The game had to be pushed back a day to accommodate the installation of the surface.

Herald's pick: Sehome 17-14

MOUNT BAKER AT BELLINGHAM

Time: 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 7

Site: Civic Stadium

Mountaineers update: Mount Baker is coming off its best season, after advancing to the 1A state semifinals for the first time in program history, but it graduated a number of crucial pieces from that team. Nowhere is that seen more than on the offensive line, where Jake Oiness is the only returning starter, and on defense, where the Mountaineers must replace seven starters. QB Andrew Zender (735 yards, 8 TDs passing) is back, while RB Izaiha Schwinden (875 yards, 10 TDs) could be something special.

Red Raiders update: Bellingham is coming off a one-win season, but feels it has the athletes to help it be a bit more competitive this season. In fact some of them are so good, the Red Raiders don't want to keep them off the field, as they'll go both ways. Among them are WR/RB/LB Noah Silverman and hard-hitting RB/LB Tanner Aliff. Bellingham believes it's found its next signal caller in sophomore Austin Shenton, who shined on the baseball field last spring.

Player to watch: Bellingham OL/DL Braden Farlow could be a big part of an offensive line that the Red Raiders believe could be something special this year.

Key to the game: Bellingham will try to cut down on the 7.2 yards per attempt it allowed on the ground last year, but it goes up against a team that averaged 7.3, including 8.3 in a season-opening 55-12 win over the Red Raiders.

Herald's pick: Mount Baker 35-10

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