Squalicum quarterback Clark Hazlett has proved he can throw the ball, passing for 303 yards and three scores during a Week 1 win, but during the first two games, he hadn't showcased his ability to run the football.
That changed during the Storm's 42-6 conference win against Bellingham Friday, Sept. 20, at Civic Stadium.
Working from shotgun sets, Hazlett ran the read-option with either Nick Manchester or Luke Weber much of the night. He weaved through the Red Raiders for 158 yards on 12 carries and two touchdowns.
Hazlett scored from 7 yards out in the first quarter and added an 18-yard TD run in the third. He may not be as potent as Manchester and Weber with the ball, but the junior quarterback displayed enough speed and shiftiness to add another dimension to Squalicum's offense.
"I felt like we did really good," said Manchester of the Storm's run game. "The line did a really good job. They stepped up this week. They really focused on their assignments and really got it done."
TYSKA'S STRONG LEG BIG FOR MOUNT BAKER
It's never easy losing an all-league kicker like Edgar Zavala to graduation, but Mount Baker coach Ron Lepper wasn't overly concerned. He knew he had another big right leg standing on the sideline in the form of Alex Tyska.
"We knew he had a strong leg last year, he just had to work on his accuracy," Lepper said. "He worked really hard in the offseason and went to a couple of camps this summer."
Tyska got to show both his range and his accuracy on Friday night, Sept. 20, in the sixth-ranked Mountaineers' showdown with Class 2A No. 1 Lynden.
Tyska boomed a 42-yard field goal with plenty of room to spare in the second quarter and added an "easy" 28 yarder in the third.
With one second left before halftime, Lepper and Mount Baker even managed to get a timeout to give him a shot at a 50-yard attempt. Tyska was equal to the challenge on the distance, but he pulled it left.
"He had the leg for the last one, it was just off a little," Lepper said. "To be able to come away with points those two times, is great. Unfortunately we had to settle for a couple of field goals, and Lynden got TDs, and that's the difference right there."
The Lions ended up staging a second-half comeback to win 27-20, handing the Mountaineers their first loss in one of Whatcom County's most competitive games so far this season.
GOLDEN EAGLES HAVE WORK TO DO
Ferndale coach Jamie Plenkovich was already thinking about Friday, Sept. 27, as soon as the whistle sounded to end the Golden Eagles' non-conference win over Garfield. The scoreboard doesn't tell the whole story, he said.
Despite the 28-6 victory, Plenkovich saw many things the team needs to address before it can find success against a tough Burlington-Edison team, which suffered its first loss of the season Friday at Mount Vernon.
Dropped balls, lost fumbles and bad snaps aggravated Golden Eagles coaches and players alike, as Ferndale slipped past a team they beat 62-12 last season. Garfield had scored just 16 points during its first two games this season and scored just once on Friday after a Ferndale fumble put the Bulldogs on the Ferndale 17.
Plenkovich said those kinds of things cannot happen next week against the Tigers.
BORDERITES LEARNING ON THE JOB
Blaine has opened the season with three straight losses, and while that looks bad on paper, the quality of their opponents may be what propels them through conference play.
The Borderites opened with a loss to Ferndale, which sits just outside the top 10 in the Associated Press' Class 3A state poll. That was followed by a heart breaking loss to Lord Tweedsmuir and their most recent loss to Lakewood, which is ranked 6th in the 2A poll.
The opening to the season tested all parts of the Borderites' game and with several new pieces and the implementation of a new spread offense, Blaine's tough schedule could be exactly what they needed.
"We have a lot of players that haven't played on Friday night before this year," coach Jay Dodd said. "We've played some hard teams, but that's no excuse. It's good for us to play against good players, and I think it will prepare us for future things, but we don't like being 0-3."
Blaine will play 2A Bellingham before entering NWC 1A play on Oct. 4 against Lynden Christian.
SUPPORTING THE PIONEERS
Nooksack Valley's loudest fan in the Pioneers' 41-6 loss to rugged Sedro-Woolley often may have been the luckless lineman getting around in a wheelchair on the sideline.
Dale "J" Snider, a 230-pound senior starter at defensive tackle, got to play only two games this season because he sustained a dislocated kneecap and other injuries in practice on Thursday, Sept. 19.
Last season, he played only three games until he sustained a broken ankle, sidelining him for the rest of the season.
Will he be at every game?
"I'll be at every game I can be," Snider said. "I'm going to do whatever I can to help support the team."
Snider's injury was especially unfortunate because he was among only four or five seniors who was seeing significant playing time.
RAPP DOES DAMAGE ON GROUND
Sehome took a tough close loss to Anacortes, 27-23, Friday, Sept. 20, away from home. Mariners quarterback Daniel Ziegler led Sehome with 129 yards on 15 attempts, but early in the game it looked like running back Taylor Rapp was going to be the focal point of Sehome's offense.
For the Mariners' first drive, 11 of 17 plays were handoffs to Rapp, and one other was a pass to him.
"He's dynamite," Sehome coach Bob Norvell said. "He works hard and he hits everyone hard."
Rapp switched jerseys twice during the game due to an Anacortes defender bleeding on him, but it didn't hinder his play as he rushed 16 times for 84 yards.