THE BELLINGHAM HERALD
TACOMA - With one receiver standing 6-foot-7 and another measuring in at 6-foot-3, the Lynden football team knew there were mismatches to be had against a much smaller Tumwater defensive backfield in the Class 2A state championship game on Saturday, Dec. 7, at the Tacoma Dome.
"Knowing that I'm bigger than everybody and I can jump, it makes it fun," Scooter Hastings said.
While Hastings and Jalani Phelps certainly had plenty of fun on Saturday - Hastings finished with a team-high 113 yards and a touchdown, and Phelps had three catches for 43 yards - it was a receiver measuring in slightly under 6 feet that had one of the bigger days for the Lions.
Sophomore Jordan Wittenberg caught nine passes for 100 yards - most of which seemed to turn third downs into first downs or came at other crucial points in drives to help Lynden claim the 2A state title for the third straight year with a 38-28 victory.
"Jordan is a stud," said Lions quarterback Sterling Somers, who passed for 263 yards and a TD. "We've known about him all year long. We know to look for him. His back's a little sore, but he had a huge day for us."
Wittenberg certainly showed no ill effects of the back.
While Phelps and Wittenberg were able to get open just simply by out jumping defensive backs, the Lions came up with schemes to help Wittenberg find open spaces on the field.
"I worked all week on 12s, which is vertical with a bend," Wittenberg said. "That was pretty much my play and jailbreak screen. It worked. When we went to those, good things happened."
Wittenberg made most of those good things happen in the second half, when he logged five catches for 69 yards, including one for 35 yards. An 11-yarder later in the third helped set up Jaremy Martin's touchdown to put Lynden up 35-13.
Some Wittenberg's success definitely came in part thanks to Tuwater fearing what Phelps and Hastings could do to them.
"Our height was a big advantage," Phelps said. "Scooter was able to make a big play and all our receivers are threats. There's no real way to match up against that. If you double team me, Scooter will beat you. Jordan, Cameron and Trey, they'll all hurt you, too."
Hastings may have hurt the Thunderbirds worst in the first quarter when he caught a short pass on an 8-yard curl route from Somers, spun and raced another 40 yards for a touchdown to put Lynden up 14-0.
"I was supposed to go deep at first, but they were playing off," Hastings said of the play. "So Coach changed the play to a little 5-yard route over the top. I just made a little move and ran as fast as I could."
Hastings rarely saw single coverage the rest of the game, and that opened opportunities for other receivers.
"Once he (Somers) threw that touchdown to Scooter down the sideline, I was like, 'Wow, we're going to do something special,"' Wittenberg said. "It was so special."
Reach David Rasbach at email@example.com or 360-715-2286.
Reach DAVID RASBACH at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 715-2271.