Meridian football coach Bob Ames admits he's not a "big pink guy."
"You don't see too many pink Hawaiian flowers," Ames said. "Hibiscus, maybe, or Plumerias. I like the reds and the yellows, though. Pink carnations I guess."
But when his team approached him about accenting the Trojans' all-black home uniforms with a little pink for its Class 1A Northwest showdown with Nooksack Valley on Friday, Oct. 11, Ames didn't turn it down.
"I'm not a big pink guy, but I understand," Ames said. "When they asked me to do it, I was all for it."
The reason about half of the Meridian roster wore pink ankle tape and pink gloves, of course, is the same reason NFL players will be wearing extra pink throughout the month of October - breast cancer awareness.
"A couple of kids have family members that have died from breast cancer, and we might as well support them," running back Letrez Jones said. "We might as well help support them."
Jones, who said he does not personally know anybody who has battled breast cancer, made quite a statement, as his pink-taped shoes and ankles ran for 302 yards. He scored six total touchdowns and caught three passes - all for TDs - for 56 yards to help Meridian to a 60-28 win.
THE BIG GUY CAN RUN
He may not have been quite as impressive a runner for Nooksack Valley as Jones was for Meridian, but Lathan Halaapiapi had a pair of eye-opening runs on Friday.
Midway through the second quarter, Halaapiapi ripped the ball out of the arms of Meridian's Bryce Garcia on a run into the middle of the line and sprinted 15 yards for a touchdown.
Later in the game, the 6-foot-1, 210 pounder once again got to show off some nice moves and speed returning a squib kick beyond midfield.
"Lathan's a good football player," Nooksack Valley coach Robb Myhre said. "It was fun to see him have some good plays like that. We'd of course like to see him run back a kickoff return - guess we'll have to talk to him about that."
Myhre said he also was pleased by the Pioneers' passing game, which tallied 192 yards in the game. Joshua Gimmaka had six catches for 51 yards, Brady Wood had four catches for 21 yards and a TD, Curtis Handy had four catches for 52 yards and Connor Beard had a 57-yard TD catch and run.
FERNDALE'S LOST BATTLE IN THE TRENCHES IN SECOND HALF
What's more surprising than what some may call an upset Sedro-Woolley earned with its 32-20 victory of No. 9-ranked Ferndale Friday is how the Cubs dominated the line of scrimmage after halftime.
Ferndale, a team centered around having big, strong interior linemen who can help pound the football time and time again using the Wing-T, got beat in the trenches following a strong first two quarters of play.
Coach Jamie Plankovich admitted as much after the game.
"They came out in the second half, and we were having a hard time establishing much of anything at the line of scrimmage," he said.
It showed. The Golden Eagles only had one rush for more than 10 yards in the second half following Joey Akers' 60-yard TD to open the third quarter. This is the same Ferndale team that touts three ball carries nearly averaging 8 yards per carry. The same team that's averaging 380 rush yards per game.
Northwest Conference leading rusher Marcus Nightingale was bottled up all night, running for only 8 second-half yards. He finished with 44 yards on 13 carries. Even Ferndale's third featured back, Daniel Jones, who entered the night averaging 70 yards per game, managed 36 yards.
Plenkovich gathered his team in the end zone following the loss and told them they will watch the tape and fix the mistakes that happened against Sedro-Woolley. With a powerhouse matchup against No. 1-ranked Lynden, which has arguably the stingiest defense in the NWC, on the horizon, Ferndale will need to work out its second-half shortcomings in the run game.
SOMERS SHOWS TALENT AT QB FOR LYNDEN
Lynden's Sterling Somers, a 6-foot-4 sophomore football/basketball prospect, looked like he could eventually wind up as one of the league's best quarterbacks as the unbeaten Lions topped Bellingham 48-6.
Somers, the backup quarterback and last year's C team signal-caller, received a chance to play significant minutes in the first half. He combined with top-notch senior receiver Jalani Phelps for a 51-yard touchdown pass. Somers went 5-for-5 for 103 yards and also completed a 22-yard scoring pass to Trey Shagren, who looked a lot like graduated brother Dak Shagren on the play.
Lynden's starting quarterback, junior Lucas Petersen, looked like the season-long standout he has been as he helped Phelps finish with four catches for 103 yards. Petersen broke at least three tackles on a 35-yard scoring run and finished with 60 yards rushing and 51 passing in limited time. Phelps now has 28 catches for 453 yards and five touchdowns.
Somers said he loves sports so much, "I'll just see where both of them take me." He said he only knows he would like to help the Lions win more state titles and would like to play one of his two sports in college.
Lynden's leading rusher and scorer, Trent Postma, didn't play while resting an injury but could have if he had been needed, coach Curt Kramme said. He figures to be needed in the final three regular-season games against playoff hopefuls Burlington-Edison, Ferndale and Squalicum.
Meanwhile, Bellingham coach Steve Wilson, whose team has been disrupted by numerous injuries, couldn't help but express pride in his young team's defensive effort against such a formidable foe: "This was the first time all season we have consistently swarmed toward the ball," he said.
HAZLETT SPREADS THE LOVE FOR SQUALICUM
Anacortes defeated Squalicum 29-16 on Friday, Oct. 11, at Anacortes High School, but the loss can't be put on the shoulders of Storm quarterback Clark Hazlett. Hazlett threw for 224 yards on 20-41 passing with a touchdown and two interceptions, but his incompletions were mostly due to Anacortes locking down its coverage on his receivers.
Hazlett was forced to spread the ball around, finding six different players for completions. Despite the high volume of passes, Hazlett was only sacked once in the game. He scrambled around a couple of times trying to find open receivers, but mostly enjoyed a comfortable passing pocket the entire game.
"I really want to emphasize how good my line was," he said, adding that he felt his linemen were leaders for the team against Anacortes.
Tensions in the trenches boiled over near the end of the game as a Seahawks lineman appeared to take down a Squalicum offensive lineman after the play, forcing referees and Storm coach Reed Richardson to separate the two teams. Both teams received unsportsmanlike conduct penalties for the extracurricular activities on the play.
FUNDAMENTALS KEY TO IMPROVING FOR BOTH BAKER AND LC
Within every game there are two battles: the one with the other team and the one with the fundamentals. A team can win a game, but the coach will still have endless fundamentals to work on, things that need to be tweaked.
A few things need fixing on both teams after Mount Baker defeated Lynden Christian 49-14 on Friday, Oct. 11.
For Mount Baker, the score was great, but the Mountaineers weren't satisfied with fumbling five times, three of them recovered by the Lyncs.
"Those things happen, I don't have an answer for why," Mount Baker coach Ron Lepper said. "We just need to get better and not put the ball on the ground."
On the other side, Lynden Christian knows it has to get the passing game going with sophomore quarterback Lucas Roetcisoender. He threw three interceptions in the game, but coach Galen Kaemingk knows it isn't all the quarterback's fault.
"He's in a tough position," Kaemingk said. "I got to do a better job at giving him plays to be successful with. When he steps up and sets his feet, he's got a good arm."
LUMMI DISPLAYS POTENT RUSHING ATTACK IN 71-6 WIN
No matter who Lummi gave the ball to on the ground, they got the job done. There were a total of 11 Blackhawks who carried the ball in Friday's victory over the Crescent Loggers.
The Blackhawks tallied six total rushing touchdowns, four of which came in the first quarter.
They racked up 331 rushing yards all together. The longest play of the night came from sophomore Malachi Roberts as he broke tackles left and right on his way for a 70-yard score.
The Blackhawks also dominated the run game on the defensive side of the ball. They only gave up 36 yard on 24 carries and did not give up a rushing touchdown.
Even after what he called a near-perfect game against Friday Harbor, Blaine coach Jay Dodd wasn't admitting to any specifics when he said his team has a lot of things to work on for next week.
"Meridian is really good," he said of next week's opponent. "Meridian is big and strong and physical. They have two really good running backs, an outstanding quarterback and their defense is also outstanding, so our work is cut out for us."
While Blaine's smaller and inexperienced line handled Friday Harbor, they will have a tougher time against Meridian. And even though Friday Harbor was just 9-for-25 passing, much of that was due to pressure from the pass rush resulting in hurried throws. The secondary was vulnerable, getting burned a few times on long passes.
If they are to succeed next weekend, the Borderites may be working on secondary coverage this week in practice.
What Blaine needs to keep from this week's impressive win is discipline: It had no turnovers and just one 5-yard penalty. That resulted in sustained drives, and, if the old adage is correct that the best defense is a good offense, Blaine should feel good about its chances against a bigger and more experienced Meridian team.
LOOKING AHEAD TO WEEK 7
CLASS 2A/3A GAME OF THE WEEK
BURLINGTON-EDISON AT LYNDEN
7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 18
If the Lions can beat the Tigers, they'll have a win over all the NWC 2A teams in contention with them for the top seed into the district playoffs.
CLASS 1A GAME OF THE WEEK
BLAINE AT MERIDIAN
7 p.m Friday, Oct. 18
Two of the three unbeaten teams in NWC 1A play will square off. The winner will then face Mount Baker in either Week 8 or Week 9 in a game that likely will decide an automatic berth to state.