BELLINGHAM - Ferndale's large contingent of players - most of whom logged their first varsity snaps - eagerly waited in a horseshoe pattern toward the east end zone of Civic Stadium to engulf coach Jamie Plenkovich for a postgame celebration.
High-fives were exchanged. Celebratory yells were belted out. It was a much different feeling than six days ago when Ferndale suffered its first loss of the season.
Truthfully, it was a much different team, Golden Eagles quarterback Cooper Clark said.
"We were ticked after last week," said the signal-caller. "To be honest, we were getting cocky for a while. After we lost, it gave us a good reality check. It kind of woke us up, and we can't come out expecting to win every time."
Battling winning expectations was put to the test again this week against a Bellingham club still searching for its first win after being decimated with injuries.
Ferndale displayed its take-no-one-for-granted attitude early and often, scoring six touchdowns through the first quarter and a half as the Golden Eagles earned a lopsided 61-28 Class 2A/3A Northwest Conference win Thursday, Oct. 17.
Plenkovich said after a good Monday meeting, he believes his team has decided how it wants to play the rest of the year, although facing the Red Raiders (0-7, 0-4 NWC 2A/3A) didn't provide much of a measuring stick.
Plenkovich's main goal was to get a lot of athletes playing time. He accomplished it.
"We wanted to hopefully get off to a fast start and get a lot of kids in the game," he said. "We have a lot of kids that practice all year long that don't get a ton of opportunity under the lights, and that was the goal tonight."
Six different Golden Eagles (6-1, 4-1 NWC 2A/3A) scored first-half rushing touchdowns, and all nine Ferndale ball carriers had at least 20 rushing yards through the first two quarters. Combined, the Golden Eagles rushed for 280 first-half yards.
Junior back Christian Cameron paced the team, finishing the game with a team-high nine carries for 62 yards, which included a 1-yard TD run late in the first quarter.
Joey Akers scored twice in the first half, amassing 43 yards on four carries. Kier Munzanreder, who did most of his damage in the second half, recorded a team-high 93 yards on six attempts.
Ferndale's quick scoring was aided by Bellingham's three lost fumbles in the first 11:03 of the game. The Golden Eagles reeled off 48 straight points before Red Raiders wide receiver Kailen Hayes took an end-around 36 yards for a score with 59 seconds left until halftime. The touchdown cut Ferndale's lead to 48-6, and the running clock was instituted most of the second half.
Hayes, who provided a bright spot in Bellingham's bumbling offense, scored three of the Red Raiders' four TDs. He caught a 20-yard score from quarterback Eric Thompson in the third quarter and ran for 63-yard touchdown on the same end-around play he scored on in the first half.
"It's awfully nice to have athletes like him," said Bellingham coach Steve Wilson of Hayes. "We have a few athletes, and it's nice to give them the ball in the open field."
Bellingham, which has now been outscored 163-48 its last three games and is low on healthy bodies, suffered two more injuries Thursday night, but Wilson said his team will continue trudging along.
"We have a very good group of guys," he said. "They just enjoy being out here. They are tough enough to keep strapping it on and keep going. They have good character, and it shows. It's easy to win. It's hard to lose, and it's hard to show good character when you lose, and our guys are doing a good job of showing good character."
Ferndale didn't attempt a pass the entire game, and Thompson finished 11 of 15 for 136 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
Golden Eagles Austin Honeycutt, Marcus Nightingale, Brady Bauthues, Daniel Jones and Luke Scarborough also scored touchdowns.
Ferndale hosts Lynden next in a showdown of Whatcom County powers at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 25, while Bellingham travels to play Anacortes next at the same time and date.
Reach Andrew Lang at email@example.com or call 360-756-2862.
Ferndale 28 20 6 7- 61
Bellingham 0 6 6 16- 28
FERN - Daniel Jones 20 run (Andrew Higginson kick)
FERN - Marcus Nightingale 4 run (Higginson kick)
FERN - Joey Akers 26 run (Higginson kick)
FERN - Christian Cameron 1 run (Higginson kick)
FERN - Akers 5 run (Higginson kick)
FERN - Austin Honeycutt 15 run (Higginson kick)
FERN - Brady Bauthues 13 run (kick fail)
BEL - Kailen Hayes 36 run (run fail)
FERN - Kier Munzanreder 30 run (kick fail)
BEL - Hayes 20 pass from Eric Thompson (run fail))
FERN - Luke Scarborough 27 run (Higginson kick)
BEL - Hayes 63 run (Melvin Deal pass from Thompson)
BEL - Deal 14 run (Deal run)
First downs 24 12
Rushing Att-Yards 53-461 20-141
Comp-Att-Int 0-0-0 11-15-1
Passing yards 0 136
Penalties-yards 6-40 1-5
Fumbles-lost 2-2 5-4
RUSHING - Ferndale: Christian Cameron 9-62, Kier Munzanreder 6-93, Dalton Neer 5-49, Josh Williams 5-17, Joey Akers 4-43, Austin Honeycutt 4-32, Jake Leavitt 4-26, Luke Scarborough 3-40, Marcus Nightingale 3-27, Brady Bauthues 3-21, Daniel Jones 2-26, Taylor Bellefeuille 2-25, Cody Tilton 2-5, Kyle Baker 1-(-5) . Bellingham: Melvin Deal 5-20, Kailen Hayes 2-99, Tanner Aliff 5-25, Eric Thompson 8-(-3).
PASSING - Ferndale: none. Bellingham: Eric Thompson 11-15-1-136.
RECEIVING - Ferndale: none. Bellingham: Kailen Hayes 4-49, Tanner Aliff 3-35, Elijahwa Ninnemann 3-14, Tristan Hurley 1-38.
Reach ANDREW LANG at firstname.lastname@example.org or call ext. 862.