After a regular-season-ending loss to Nooksack Valley on Oct. 31, Blaine coach Jay Dodd was none too pleased about his team's inability to run the ball, especially in the second half.
And when the coach isn't pleased, things tend to get fixed.
That certainly happened for the Borderites on Friday, Nov. 8, in their 35-21 Class 1A Tri-District victory over Port Townsend at Civic Stadium.
Blaine came out and established the running game early.
On its first two touchdown drives, Blaine attempted only two passes, completing one for 29 yards to Josiah Westbrook, who set up the Borderites' first drive at the 14 with his interception.
By halftime, Blaine had 122 yards on 17 carries and two Cole Muder touchdowns for their efforts. Muder had 95 yards on 13 carries.
"Establishing a run game was big for us tonight," Dodd said. "That allows us to do other things in the pass game and whatnot. We just established a run game and got our linemen going and into their run blocks. We didn't do a good job of that week, and we struggled in the second half running the ball against Nooksack, and that's why we lost the game. So our offensive line did a good job of coming out and getting into people and moving the line of scrimmage, and linemen like to do that kind of stuff."
While Port Townsend doesn't make the trip to Whatcom County all that often, there were a couple of familiar face standing on the north sidelines.
Former Squalicum girls' basketball coach and teacher Steve Wilson is now the athletic director for the Redskins. His son, Zach, is a starting wide receiver/defensive back for the team.
Wilson said the job developed "very quickly," and he, Zach and the rest of their family are adjusting well to life on the Olympic Peninsula.
FERNDALE'S RUN GAME STUFFED
Ferndale's struggles running the ball against Bellevue became apparent early on, indicating the Golden Eagles' offense would have trouble moving the ball.
Joey Akers and Marcus Nightingale, who have both ran over and around Northwest Conference defenders for a combined 1,916 yards, could hardly gain a single yard. It was amazing to see how productive an offense could be for nine weeks, then how dominated it was Friday night in Bellevue.
Bellevue's penetration up front gave the two Ferndale backs nowhere to go. The Wolverines' main enforcer inside was 6-foot-3, 290-pound Marcus Griffin.
"It was tough sledding in the run game, obviously," Ferndale coach Jamie Plenkovich said. "When we can't run the ball, when any team can't run the ball, you're going to be in trouble."
That was certainly the case against Bellevue.
Quarterback Cooper Clark ended up throwing 16 passes, which is more than a third of the attempts he's had all season. He was somewhat effective, though, completing half of those balls for 68 yards.
Akers finished the year with 1,000 yards and 14 TDs on 157 carries, and Nightingale had 948 yards and 11 TDs on 149 rushes.
LYNDEN'S OFFENSE SEARCHES FOR RHYTHM
Though Lynden crushed Sultan 35-7 in a first round Class 2A Bi-District game Friday, Nov. 8, at Lynden High School, the Lions had problems getting into a rhythm offensively.
In the first half, quarterback Sterling Somers' receivers were dropping balls thrown right to them. On one particular pass, both receivers in the area appeared to lose the ball in the stadium lights as Sultan's cornerbacks were trying harder to haul in the pass than the Lions were.
But thanks to solid running by Somers and running back Trent Postma in the first half, the Lions stayed out of trouble and in the lead. When the offense was more focused on running, Lynden's receivers were more prepared to play their part when a passing play was called.
Lynden receivers Jalani Phelps and Scooter Hastings each made great catches when Somers put the ball just out of the Turks' reach.
"We just needed to get in a rhythm (in passing)," Lynden coach Curt Kramme said. "Jalani came back from having a few drops and made some nice catches."
Kramme said the schedule will be off for his team this week, as they wouldn't know who they would play until the evening of Saturday, Nov. 9, but he plans to drill his team on fundamentals in the coming week.
ZIEGLER DOES IT ALL FOR SEHOME
Sehome quarterback Daniel Ziegler is the foundation of the Sehome Mariners football team. On Friday, Nov. 8, he proved why.
He took part in all five touchdowns of Sehome's 35-13 win over Lakewood, which included throwing, running and returning. He is the do-it-all guy.
He is often the fastest player on the field and he combines it with his quick feet and football IQ, but when it comes down to taking credit, he never takes the glory.
"My blocking was great," he said about his 60-yard punt return for a touchdown.
"Evan Miksovsky makes me look good," he said about the ball he floated straight into the hands of his receiver for a touchdown.
But with 218 all-purpose yards and five touchdowns in a Class 2A Tri-District tournament game, Ziegler deserves more credit for the Mariners' success than he'll ever give himself.
SPECIAL TEAMS KEY IN LYNCS' WIN
Lynden Christian's defense was a powerhouse in the Lync's 50-7 victory over Life Christian Academy on Friday, Nov. 8, at Lynden Christian. The Lyncs only allowed 225 total yards all game.
Aside from not letting Life Christian move the ball very efficiently, the Lyncs also caused them to give up the ball a total of six times - two fumble recoveries and four interceptions. They forced Life Christian to commit six fumbles all together.
Lynden Christian's sophomore quarterback, Lucas Roetcisoender, was very pleased by the way the defense got the ball, allowing him to do his work more often.
"The defense just continues to improve everyday," Roetcisoender said. "Special teams just did its job well and got us the ball."
Special teams was partially to credit in the big 29-0 first-quarter start, as it forced and recovered a kick-off fumble right after a touchdown, then on the ensuing kickoff successfully completed an on-side kick. The Lyncs' coach, Galen Kaemingk, was very proud of the way his defense and special teams attacked the ball.
"We had three scores before they could even run an offensive play," Kaemingk said. "It allowed our kids to relax a little bit and play."
The Lyncs victory is one that proves to Kaemingk his team is moving in the right direction and will boost his team's confidence going into the offseason.
"We had a very positive season," said Kaemingk. "Last year we didn't win this many games, and tonight we ended our year with a great victory."
PIONEERS EYE BRIGHT FUTURE
The Nooksack Valley Pioneers may have had their season end, but eyes are already looking to a bright future with the incoming senior class. With around nine to 10 juniors playing every game, the experience adds up.
Everybody save for two seniors on the offensive line, Blake Warner and Leni Halaapiapi, are coming back next year for the Pioneers and are ready to show off what they can do.
This weeks' playoff schedule is far from set, with a number of games late Saturday still having an impact on who local teams will play. But here is a preliminary glance, with times, dates and sites not yet set:
CLASS 2A STATE PLAYOFFS
? Franklin Pierce/Kingston winner at Lynden
? District 5/6 No. 3 at Sedro-Woolley
? Sehome at Aberdeen/Tumwater winner
CLASS 1A STATE PLAYOFFS
? Woodland at Mount Baker
? Blaine at Tenino
? Meridian at Cashmere
CLASS 1B QUAD-DISTRICT PLAYOFFS
? Lummi vs. District 4 No. 2