The lines of people used to stretch out of the stadium past the music building two hours before the 7 p.m. kickoff. If they were a little late, people couldn’t find a seat after 5:30 p.m. and would end up standing in a sea of yellow, blue and green all the way around the field.
That’s how crucial the Ferndale-Lynden football game was in the 1990s and early 2000s. If you were a Whatcom County football fan, you simply didn’t want to miss it.
Ferndale and Lynden will write another chapter in their storied rivalry on Friday, Sept. 9, at Lynden, but this year’s game is a bit different, at least to Lynden coach Curt Kramme.
“They’re still one of the best programs in the state, ever,” Kramme said. “But the game has definitely lost some of its luster.”
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The reason, Kramme said, is because the game is no longer a conference battle and therefore will have no impact beyond bragging rights. In years past, the winner usually had the inside track to the league title or better postseason positioning. But not this year, after Ferndale left the Northwest Conference along with Squalicum to play in the 3A Wesco North division.
“Every game is important to us,” Kramme said, “but if we have a couple of guys injured, we’ll sit them this Friday to be ready for league play against Bellingham next Friday. That’s the most important game to us right now.”
Ferndale coach Jamie Plenkovich and his squad are entering this week’s game with the same attitude as they’ve had in previous meetings with Lynden.
And they’d like to regain those bragging rights, after suffering a 34-7 loss to the Lions in 2015.
“A lot of our guys grew up with guys from Lynden,” Plenkovich said. “The intensity will be extremely high, as it always is on Friday.”
Even if the rivalry, which seems meant to be played in mid-October, is now scheduled for early September, it still has produced a number of storied names – from Josh Kraght to Jake Locker, Jaremy Martin to Jonathan Le, Luke Christianson to Matthias Wilson, Jordan Wittenberg to Rocky Sandusky and countless others. The teams have combined to win 886 games and nine state titles.
As many times as they’ve met, one game stands out in the memories of each coach. Not surprisingly, they were in games that were eerily similar.
“I’ll always remember two years ago, when we weren’t supposed to win and did, 37-35, at Lynden,” Plenkovich said. “The atmosphere in and out of the stadium was so crazy after that win; the crowd was going crazy.”
Lynden finished the 2014 regular season 9-1 – its only loss to a 3-6 Ferndale team.
Kramme, who has been coaching at Lynden since 1991, said he remembers a game from 1994.
“We went over to Ferndale as underdogs in ’94,” Kramme said. “We beat them at their stadium to get the No. 1 seed for the playoffs. We established ourselves that year as Northwest Conference contenders.”
Even though Friday’s game won’t have those kinds of implications, the atmosphere figures to be just as intense. Both teams are excited to write another chapter in this historic rivalry.
“Lynden is an extremely well-coached football team with athletes on both sides of the ball,” Plenkovich said. “We’re excited for Friday. It will be a fun game, and our team will play hard and fast.”