TACOMA - Max Laib was the first Freeman football player to press his lips to the Class 1A state championship trophy on Saturday, Dec. 7, at the Tacoma Dome following the Scotties' 31-13 victory over Mount Baker.
Marcus Goldbach quickly followed, making sure he got his chance to savor the school's first title.
In a way, it was almost symbolic of what happened with Freeman's rushing attack in the game.
Laib was given the first chance against the Mountaineers in the 1A title game, and when he didn't have quite the results Freeman sought, the Scotties turned to Goldbach. The 5-foot-11, 195-pound junior running back didn't disappoint.
After getting only 5 yards and three-first half carries, Goldbach took over in the second half, rushing for 149 yards on 18 carries.
"It's a team effort," said Goldbach, who made his presence felt in the first half by returning the opening kickoff 91 yards for a TD. "We go back and forth from him to me. We've done that all year. I'm kind of used to it. I think Max is feeling a little sick, and that's why his performance is a little off today."
That's the benefit of having two 1,300 yard rushers - when one is a little off, the other can step in and carry the team to a victory, or in this case, a state championship.
Mount Baker had to be pleased with its efforts containing the speedier Laib during the first half. Though he was slipped the ball 14 times, he gained only 43 yards.
"Our kids just played hard and did pretty good assignment football," Mount Baker coach Ron Lepper said. "I think we got a couple of pretty good shots on him. I think it took him out a little bit, and then they went to No. 6 (Goldbach) and they made some adjustments and started running more zone and iso out of the I. They'd get things rolling and then cut back. Give them some credit for making that adjustment, but we just couldn't get clean hits."
The biggest reason for that, quite literally, was Freeman's offensive line, which averages more than 250 pounds per man, which started to exert its will on the smaller Mountaineers.
"I think their line did a good job of getting on our guys, and we weren't able to get a clean shot on him," Lepper said. "They're a good football team, obviously. We knew it was going to be a challenge coming in. That kid, he ran hard, and their line did a good job of getting bodies on our guys."
And the result was big chunks of yardage for Goldbach.
It started on Freeman's first drive of the second half, when he gained all 91 yards on eight hard-nosed carries right up the middle, as Goldbach gobbled up double-digit chunks of yardage all the way down the field. He capped it off with a 16-yard TD run.
With the center of Mount Baker's defense softened up, Goldbach started breaking a few runs to the outside, as he continued to pile up the yardage and added a 3-yard TD run early in the fourth to put the game away.
"It's really easy to run when the line gets a 4-yard push right off the bat," Goldbach said. "I had so many holes to pick from. It's really easy to do. It's not me exploiting the defense, it's the line pushing them back. ... They started sending guys in the middle. They stated sending blitzes and stuff to stop that run, and I just popped it outside because I saw open holes."
Reach David Rasbach at email@example.com or 360-715-2286.
Reach ANDREW LANG at firstname.lastname@example.org or call ext. 862.