TACOMA - The matchup between Tumwater's heralded defensive end Nick Foerstel and Lynden's offensive tackles was initially thought to be a mismatch.
After all, Foerstel, who stands 6-foot-4 and 224 pounds, had wreaked havoc on quarterbacks for the better part of his career at Tumwater, entering the Class 2A State Championship game two sacks shy of breaking the school's single-season record of 11.
And like his Tumwater teammates, Foerstel left the field on Saturday, Dec. 7, at the Tacoma Dome, just shy of making history. The senior defensive end recorded a sack on Lynden quarterback Sterling Somers in the second quarter of Lynden's 38-28 win over the Thunderbirds, but other than that he was a non-factor.
And that wasn't by shear happenstance, either.
"All week the coaches were telling us to watch film on (Foerstel) alone," said senior tackle Kody Ames. "Me and Derron Dunnigan tried to figure out patterns or do anything we could do to get an edge on him. I think we really did a good job of picking up his moves and staying in front of him."
Lynden's ability to keep the powerful defense end away from sophomore quarterback Sterling Somers did much to help the Lions stretch the field vertically. On several occasions, including a big 35-yard pass to senior wide receiver Scooter Hastings, Somers was given all the time in the world to connect with his rangy wideouts down field.
"We knew they were going to be good. We just had to dig deep within ourselves," Ames said. "That was our coaches working hard all week, telling us, 'Protect Sterling. Protect Sterling.' We knew they were going to be good."
The Lions' running game, which took a hit after the loss of junior Trent Postma to a knee injury, found success running the ball with 240-pound running back/linebacker Jaremy Martin. Martin finished the game with 90 yards and two TDs on 12 carries.
"We've struggled sometimes going downhill like that," said Ames. "Thought we did a hell of a job this game."
Lynden as a team finished with 182 yards rushing on 33 carries for two touchdowns. Other than the individual sack, Foerstel's presence on the field was rarely seen nor heard of.
POSTMA'S EARLY EXIT
Junior running back Trent Postma finished the season as the Lions' leading rusher, producing 1,324 yards and 14 touchdowns on 173 carries. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to finish the state championship game against Tumwater due to a right knee injury he sustained in the second quarter that he said was by no means serious.
"It's popped out a couple times before, and this is definitely the best it's felt since then," he said.
Postma re-injured the knee on a run off the left tackle. He got caught up in a pile of players, and once the pile dissipated, Postma laid on the ground for several minutes gripping his knee. He did manage to walk off the field under his own power, even starting the first series of the second half, but beyond that point it was all fellow senior tailback Jaremy Martin.
"It felt good, and then when we taped it up and I ran out there, I felt good," he said. "You know, give it another swing. Give another shot at it. ... It just started to tighten up really bad."
Martin was a serviceable fill-in, rushing for 90 yards and two touchdowns.
TRUSTING THE LEG
Senior kicker Alex Otano-Guenther trotted out on to the field with 1 minute, 34 second remaining with Lynden ahead of Tumwater 35-28.
Otano-Guenther was in the rare position of being able to put his team ahead by two scores of the Thunderbirds, all but sealing the win and a third consecutive state championship.
"When I got out there, I was nervous. But at the same time, I knew god would help me," he said.
He planted and launched a low liner from 40 yards out that sailed right between the uprights. The senior kicker cited an early season injury to his hip flexor as a positive because it allowed him to focus more on his technique while away.
"All I wanted to do was keep kicking, keep kicking. But I couldn't," he said. "By the time I was healthy, I felt like I could do everything in my sleep."
SEALING THE EDGES
Tumwater entered the Class 2A State Football Championships as one of the most prolific rushing attacks in the state. And while 240 yards rushing might seem like a lot, Lynden's defensive line and linebackers did well in preventing the Thunderbirds' from finding too much open space.
"That was the plan: To prevent big plays," said defensive end Bryce Sterk. "We watched other teams, the first couple plays they would just run outside and get all their points."
The Lions, for the most part, were able to keep standout running back Christian Cummings at bay. Cummings had to redirect many of his outside runs, cutting back up field to a waiting group of Lynden defenders. He finished the game with 84 total yards rushing on 15 carries.
"They had some very talented kids - big kids," Sterk said. "But I think we overcame that."
Reach DAVID RASBACH at email@example.com or call 715-2271.