Thursday, Sept. 22, marked the first day of fall, and as the weather begins to get a bit more crisp, the importance of Whatcom County football games starts to ratchet up. The 1A NWC enters the league portion of its schedule this week, after the 2A NWC and most teams in the 3A Wesco North started last week. Here’s a look at where Whatcom County’s 11-man teams rank heading into Friday, Sept. 23:
1. Squalicum (1)
The Storm passed its first 3A Wesco North Division test, despite playing without usual starting quarterback Garrett Sorenson for a second straight week. Do-everything senior Ben Peterson filled in and once again showed he’s the most dangerous player on the field when he has the ball in his hands.
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2. Ferndale (2)
The Golden Eagles had to wait an extra week before playing their first 3A Wesco North Division game, as they dispatched with 4A South Kitsap last week. Ferndale was dominant up front in that game, as the offensive line paved the way for three backs to rush for more than 140 yards.
3. Mount Baker (3)
The Mountaineers have lost just one 1A NWC game since dropping down to Class 1A in 2012. Think they’re excited to get into league play this week against Nooksack Valley? It’s a good bet Jed Schleimer is, as he rushed for a state single-game record 521 yards last year against the Pioneers.
4. Lynden (5)
The Lions rebounded nicely from their Week 2 loss to Ferndale by beating Bellingham 34-14 in last week’s 2A NWC opener. Lynden is definitely getting things done a little differently this year, rushing for 679 yards and nine touchdowns while only accumulating 423 yards and four TDs through the air.
5. Blaine (4)
The Borderites found out the hard way last week that they may not be on the same level as the top teams in the 2A NWC with a 52-20 loss to Sedro-Woolley. The good news they still might be the top team in the second tier, and that may get them into the postseason. A win this week over Bellingham would definitely help.
6. Nooksack Valley (8)
The Pioneers’ offense has been on a tear the last two weeks, piling up 993 yards of total offense and putting 93 points on the board. The big question, though, is can they stop Mount Baker’s Schleimer in their 1A NWC opener after allowing him to run for 643 yards and eight TDs in two meetings last year.
7. Meridian (7)
The Trojans came within a blocked extra point with two minutes to play of sending their top-10 battle with Cascade Christian to overtime last week. Though Meridian now has lost two straight, this is the time of year when Bob Ames’ boys start to shine, with the start of 1A NWC play.
8. Bellingham (6)
The Red Raiders’ return to the 2A NWC last week didn’t go as well as they hoped with a 34-14 loss to Lynden, but this team has come a long ways, considering the last time Bellingham played the Lions in 2013 before leaving the league they lost 48-6. The Red Raiders need to bounce back this week against Blaine.
9. Lynden Christian (9)
The Lyncs turned away a two-point conversion attempt by Cashmere in the game’s closing moments to give coach Dan Kaemingk his first win since returning to coach the team. LC seems to be making improvements each week, a trend it hopes to continue as it prepares to enter the 1A NWC portion of its schedule.
10. Sehome (10)
After allowing 49 points each of the first two weeks, the Mariners held Lakewood to 14 in their 2A NWC opener last week, and they doubled their point production from the first two weeks with 12 points. Obviously, the next step is to notch their first win, and this week’s game against Anacortes presents an excellent opportunity to do just that.