BELLINGHAM - In a sense, unbeaten and top-ranked Lynden's 48-6 win over winless Bellingham left both football teams feeling like winners.
Bellingham suited up 26 players and emerged without injuries for the first time this season and the Red Raiders' student body did not lack for enthusiasm at homecoming on Friday, Oct. 11, at Civic Stadium.
Meanwhile, Lynden (6-0 overall, 4-0 Northwest Conference) was all business, as Curt Kramme's teams tend to be.
The Lions did not commit a penalty in a poised, classy performance while preparing to face playoff contenders Burlington-Edison, Ferndale and Squalicum in Lynden's final three regular-season games.
The Lions displayed their impressive quarterback depth as junior starter Lucas Petersen ran for a 35-yard touchdown and passed for a 14-yard score to Jacob Boland.
Sophomore backup Sterling Somers scored on a 2-yard burst and threw scoring passes of 51 yards to Jalani Phelps and 22 yards to junior Trey Shagren while completing 5 of 5 passes for 103 yards.
Senior running back Jaremy Martin amassed a game-high 79 yards rushing and scored on runs of 4 and 5 yards for two of Lynden's first three touchdowns.
"It was really good; I can't fault our effort," said Kramme, knowing full well what a challenge it can be to stay sharp against a winless team with rugged competition coming up.
Bellingham coach Steve Wilson said pretty much the same thing.
"Our goal is always to improve each week, and we definitely improved tonight," he said. "We had our best overall defensive efforts" (especially considering that the Lions are the state's top-ranked Class 2A team).
Wilson was ecstatic that his team finally shook off the injury jinx, especially considering the Red Raiders (0-6, 0-4) finished the previous game with only 18 players available.
"We absolutely plan to finish the season," Wilson said. "The only way we would not is if we didn't have enough healthy players. I'm very happy we came out without injuries tonight. I've never seen a team have as much injury trouble as we've had."
Kramme said Bellingham's stunning 13-0 lead against Burlington in Week 2 benefited the Lions mentally.
"Our guys were completely aware of that," he said.
Indeed, after Martin's first touchdown following a Bellingham fumble on the game's opening kickoff, the Red Raiders immediately rebounded to drive 57 yards on 18 plays until the Lions halted them on their 15-yard line.
"Give Bellingham credit," Kramme said. "They came out with some fire."
Bellingham junior Eric Thompson - a talented receiver pressed into quarterback duty because he's the only one healthy enough to play the position well - enjoyed several big moments.
"Eric is our best receiver," Wilson said of Thompson, who completed 12 of 24 passes for 118 yards, including a 7-yard touchdown pass to junior Kailen Hayes in the third quarter, set up by 38-yard catch and two grabs by Elijahwa Ninnemann for a combined 21 yards. Tanner Aliff caught three passes for 20 yards on Bellingham's 57-yard drive.
Lynden's Jordan Wittenberg, Parker Harrison and Brady Patrick had interceptions against Thompson.
Wilson was pleased with how his players responded throughout the game, which was played with a running clock after Lynden scored on its opening series of the second half.
"Our boys will always compete," said Wilson.
Bellingham's 250-pound fullback, Melvin Deal, agreed with his coach.
"I think we have the ability to win some of the next (three games)," said Deal, who led the Red Raiders with 49 yards on 12 carries.
Somers pretty well summed up Lynden's approach.
"Whatever it takes to win," he said.
Lynden 7 27 7 7 -48
Bellingham 0 0 6 0 -6
Lynden - Jaremy Martin 4 run (Alex Otano-Guenther kick)
Lynden - Lucas Petersen 35 run (run failed)
Lynden - Martin 5 run (Otano-Guenther kick)
Lynden - Phelps 51 pass from Sterling Somers (Otano-Guenther kick)
Lynden - Trey Shagren 22 pass from Somers (Otano-Guenther kick)
Lynden - Jacob Boland 14 pass from Petersen (Otano-Guenther kick)
Bellingham - Kailan Hayes 7 pass from Eric Thompson (pass failed)
Lynden - Somers 2 run (Per Wolfisberg kick)
First downs 21 10
Rushes-yards 27-204 24-35
Comp-att-int 11-13-0 13-25-3
Passing yards 165 129
Fumbles-lost 1-1 4-3
Penalties-yards 0-0 2-12
RUSHING: Lynden - Jaremy Martin 10-79, Lucas Petersen 3-60, Sterling Somers 3-12, Cameron Wainwright 5-48, Colby Spady 3-5, Ben Colwell 3-0. Bellingham - Melvin Deal 12-49, Tanner Aliff 6-14, Eric Thompson 5-(minus 20), Jacob Thompson 1-(minus 8).
PASSING: Lynden - Lucas Petersen 5-7-51-0; Sterling Somers 5-5-103-0; Ben Colwell 1-1-11-0. Bellingham: Eric Thompson 13-25-129-3.
RECEIVING: Lynden - Jalani Phelps 4-103, Trey Shagren 2-26, Cameron Wainwright 1-9, Jacob Boland 2-12, Noah King 1-4, Colby Spady 1-11. Bellingham - Kailen Hayes 4-57, Tanner Aliff 3-20, Tristan Hurley 3-23, Melvin Deal 1-6, Elijahwa Ninnemann 2-23.