BELLINGHAM - Sehome seniors Daniel Ziegler and Austin Vosburgh wish they could come back to play another season with the Mariners' young, potential-laden offensive line.
But the future is now for two of the quickest threats in the Northwest Conference in the wake of Sehome's 57-12 victory over Bellingham to end the regular season on Thursday, Oct. 31, at Civic Stadium, in a Northwest Conference Class 2A matchup.
While the Mariners (4-5 overall, 3-4 NWC) savored being handed "City Champ" T-shirts for the first time in the senior class's history, they were also thrilled to realize they still have a shot at the postseason.
Sehome, Burlington-Edison and Anacortes will play a Kansas Tiebreaker series on Saturday, Nov. 2, at Sedro-Woolley High School, starting at 7 p.m.
According to a pre-season numbers draw, Sehome will face the Burlington-Anacortes survivor for the NWC's No. 3 and final spot - behind Lynden and Sedro-Woolley - for the right to play a Week 10 game that could send the Mariners to the state tournament.
"I had a dream of state when I was a freshman, but I wasn't really very hopeful of it," said Vosburgh, who scored two touchdowns and had five sacks of gutty but beleaguered Bellingham quarterback Eric Thompson. "But this season, everything changed."
Ziegler, playing at quarterback only in the first half, needed just 31 plays to guide the Mariners to seven touchdowns, including his 81-yard kickoff return in the first quarter and his 39-yard scoring run on his final play.
Ziegler ran for 73 yards and passed for 151 to increase his total offense from scrimmage - not even counting his huge return yardage - to 1,828 for the season. He has 1,024 passing and 804 rushing.
The shifty senior threw scoring passes of 18 and 29 yards to senior Evan Miksovsky, who caught four passes for 73 yards. That increased the veteran basketball star's season totals to 39 receptions for 654 yards and nine touchdowns in his only high school football season.
"Our line has improved so much," said Ziegler, stressing what a pleasure it is to play with dedicated juniors Drew Norvell, Austin Rosas, Tyler Haggen, George Loeppky and sophomore Jeremy Johnson. "I feel they have great potential."
Ziegler also found Vosburgh for a 32-yard touchdown and Blaise Black chipped in with a 7-yard scoring run. Junior defensive back Gabriel Weight added the Mariners' last score with a 94-yard interception return in the fourth quarter. Senior kicker Sam Diehl went 7 for 7 on conversions and even threw a 2-point-conversion pass to Vosburgh when another conversion went awry.
"I'm so excited for the kids," Sehome coach Bob Norvell said. "It's so exciting to have a shot at the playoffs - just to have an opportunity to give it our best. I keep thinking how the kids have developed attitude and discipline - how they have learned to respect everyone."
The Red Raiders (0-9, 0-6), who suited up 24 players, finished the game on Sehome's 1-yard line, which pretty much summed up Bellingham's luck. The second half was played with a running clock, and Bellingham limited Sehome's offensive reserves to seven plays from scrimmage after intermission, due in part to Weight's interception return for the Mariners.
The Red Raiders played seriously throughout as Melvin Deal rushed 15 times for 88 yards. They scored in the first quarter on sophomore Kole Jorgenson's 4-yard reception from Thompson following wide receiver Kailen Hayes' 41-yard pass to Tristan Hurley in the first quarter. The Raiders tallied in the third quarter on junior Elijahwa Ninnemann's 66-yard fumble return.
Bellingham coach Steve Wilson could be proud of how his players responded to Sehome's first touchown with a 10-play, 69-yard scoring drive, aided by a 15-yard penalty against Sehome when the Raiders punted early in the drive.
Sehome standout Taylor Rapp was held out to give an injury more time to heal.
"This just feels so great, to have a shot at the playoffs," said Ziegler, whose kickoff return was a dazzler, considering he took the ball on one sideline and ran across to the opposite sideline before heading goalward. "I'm very, very happy for our coaches, who are just so dedicated to making us better. They're great - they'll talk football before practice, after practice, any time we want to."
Considering that the future is now, they'll be a whole lot of talk Friday at school and at practice. Ziegler and his crew wouldn't want it any other way.
Sehome 29 21 0 7 - 57
Bellingham 6 0 6 0 - 12
Sehome - Austin Vosburgh 2 run (Sam Diehl kick)
Bellingham - Kole Jorgenson 4 pass from Eric Thompson (run failed)
Sehome - Daniel Ziegler 81 kickoff return (Diehl kick)
Sehome - Evan Miksovsky 18 pass from Ziegler (Vosburgh pass from Diehl)
Sehome - Vosburgh 32 pass from Ziegler (Diehl kick)
Sehome - Miksovsky 29 pass from Ziegler (Diehl kick)
Sehome - Ziegler 39 run (Diehl kick)
Sehome - Blaise Black 7 run (Diehl kick)
Bellingham - Elijahwa Ninnemann 66 fumble return (run failed)
Sehome - Gabriel Weight 94 interception return (Diehl kick)
First downs 15 15
Rushes-yards 27-141 35-143
Comp-att-int 7-10-0 8-13-1
Passing yards 160 62
Fumbles-lost 2-1 4-2
Penalties-yards 5-75 1-5
RUSHING - Sehome: Daniel Ziegler 7-73, Austin Vosburgh 8-30, Blaise Black 4-15, Gary Vanieperen 6-26, Gavin Kaepernick 2-(minus 3), Skyler Conner 1-3, Jonny Reid 1-(minus 3). Bellingham: Melvin Deal 15-88, Tanner Aliff 9-54, Eric Thompson 10-(minus 3), Will Crawford 1-4.
PASSING - Sehome: Daniel Ziegler 6-9-151-0, Gavin Kaepernick 1-1-9-0. Bellingham: Eric Thompson 7-12-21-1, Kailen Hayes 1-1-41-0.
RECEIVING - Sehome: Evan Miksovsky 4-73, Sam Diehl 1-46, Austin Vosburgh 1-32, Joe Guevara 1-9. Bellingham: Tristan Hurley 1-41, Kole Jorgenson 1-4, Kailen Hayes 3-11, Melvin Deal 1-5, Tanner Aliff 2-1.