Ferndale opens season with win over Blaine


FERNDALE - Need to know what numbers are going to hit in the Mega Millions drawing? How about who's going to win the next Super Bowl?

Try asking Ferndale football coach Jamie Plenkovich. He seems to be pretty good at predicting future events.

"All offseason long, I kept telling these guys that the first time we ran that play we'd score," Plenkovich said. "Then this week, I kept reminding them of it. Sure enough, we did."

That play is what coaches who utilize the Wing-T refer to as the "crisscross" - a quick double handoff from one running back to another to catch an over-aggressive defense going the wrong way.

Ferndale not only scored the first time it ran the play Friday, Sept. 6, in its season opener against Blaine, it scored the second time and on three of the first four times it was called during the first half, as the Golden Eagles used it to pull away for a 47-21 victory over the visiting Borderites.

Joey Akers got the honors of being the first recipient of the crisscross handoff from Daniel Jones 5 minutes, 19 seconds into the game, and he raced 72 yards up the left sideline to the end zone.

"The key is the handoff," Jones said. "You have to make sure it's crisp, and then you have to make your cut and go."

Jones, who said he and Akers focus heavily on making the handoff in practice, received a nice handoff from Akers the second time they ran the play with 1:30 left in the first quarter, and he scooted 25 yards for a 14-0 Ferndale lead.

"It's feels really good when you have half the defense chasing you, and you look over and you see your teammate running free on the other side," said Akers, who finished with 217 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries.

The third time Ferndale called the play, it didn't finish in the end zone, but it did result in a 22-yard run by Jones on third-and-8, setting up a 31-yard rumble by Austin Honeycutt one play later.

But don't worry; the fourth time the Golden Eagles ran the crisscross, Jones turned it into a 33-yard sprint to pay dirt, giving Ferndale a 26-0 halftime lead.

"A lot of credit has to go to the line, because they have to hold their block long enough to allow the play to work," Jones said.

In all, Ferndale ran the play six times, generating 168 yards and four touchdowns - Jones added a third touchdown from 8 yards out in the third quarter.

"The key to making that play successful is setting it up with the plays to the edge before it," Plenkovich said. "If you set it up right, then it's a perfect time to call a misdirection play. Give Blaine credit, they were doing a good job up front on us. They were pursuing so well early on, we were able to catch them with the misdirection."

Jones joined Akers in triple digits with 100 yards and the three TDs on six carries. Fullback Marcus Nightingale added 65 yards and a score in relief of Anthony Fleck, who had his knee on ice after the game.

"Like I told the guys, this was a good place to start," Plenkovich said. "We have a lot of things we'll need to clean up, but now we can see what those things are and focus on them. There are some things we saw defensively that we're going to have to improve."

Blaine also has its own list of things to work on, before it faces Lord Tweedsmuir (B.C.) on Thursday, Sept. 12, but the Borderites showed improvement in the second half, playing the Golden Eagles even.

Their new spread offensive formation allowed Nathan Kramme to pass for 173 yards and two TDs, both of which were caught by Josiah Westbrook, who finished with 100 yards on three catches.

Blaine also showed it can still run the ball, even without Mario Gobbato, as Cole Muder rushed for 107 yards on 18 carries, and Kramme had 100 yards rushing and a TD, before consecutive sacks by Christian Rodriguez on the final two plays of the game cost him 27 yards off that total.

But the area Blaine will focus on most in the next six days is defense.

"We struggle against the perimeter run," Borderites coach Jay Dodd said. "That's been our Achilles heel, and I think you saw tonight we're still struggling against it. We came in hoping not to give up the big play on the outside, and in the first half, we gave up a bunch of them. In the second half, we made some improvements, but it's definitely something we need to keep working on."

Reach David Rasbach at david.rasbach@bellinghamherald.com or 360-715-2286.

Blaine 0 0 14 7- 21

Ferndale 14 12 14 7- 47

First quarter

Fern - Joey Akers 72 run (Andrew Higginson kick)

Fern - Daniel Jones 25 run (Higginson kick)

Second quarter

Fern - Austin Honeycutt 31 run (kick failed)

Fern - Jones 33 run (run failed)

Third quarter

Bla - Josiah Westbrook 11 pass from Nathan Kramme (Peter Benne kick)

Fern - Jones 8 run (Higginson kick)

Bla - Kramme 13 run (Benne kick)

Fern - Akers 50 run (Higginson kick)

Fourth quarter

Fern - Marcus Nightingale 3 run (Higginson kick)

Bla - Westbrook 67 pass from Kramme (Benne kick)

Bla Fern

First downs 14 20

Rushing Att-Yards 36-197 56-488

Comp-Att-Int 8-19-2 3-4-0

Passing yards 173 50

Penalties-yards 5-28 6-49

Fumbles-lost 3-1 5-1

Individual leaders

RUSHING - Blaine: Nathan Kramme 15-73, Cole Muder 18-107, Brian Ferrer 3-17. Ferndale: Joey Akers 15-217, Cooper Clark 12-7, Anthony Fleck 5-29, Daniel Jones 6-100, Austin Honeycutt 5-39, Marcus Nightingale 7-65, Brady Bauthues 1-3, Kier Munzanreder 2-8, Josh Williams 1-8, Taylor Bellefeuille 2-12.

PASSING - Blaine: Nate Kramme 8-19-2-173. Ferndale: Cooper Clark 3-4-0-50.

RECEIVING - Blaine: Josh Fakkem 2-62, Cody Gobbato 2-8, Josiah Westbrook 3-100, Cole Muder 1-3. Ferndale: Joey Akers 1-14, Robert Hardin 2-36.

Reach DAVID RASBACH at david.rasbach@bellinghamherald.com or call 715-2271.

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