The 2016 high school football season hits the midway point this week, as area teams start battling to make postseason runs in October. Here’s a look at how the Whatcom County 11-man programs shuffle out after the first four weeks in The Bellingham Herald’s power rankings:
1. Squalicum (1)
The Storm has sailed through the first two weeks of 3A Wesco North play, but things get a little bit tougher Friday, Sept. 30, when it hosts unbeaten Oak Harbor. Squalicum’s defense will be tested, as the Wildcats have averaged 44.0 points per game this season, but the Storm has averaged 46.0.
2. Ferndale (2)
The Golden Eagles posted their second shut out victory of the season last week in the 3A Wesco North opener against Arlington, and running backs Justice Powell, Cole Semu and Ben Broselle combined to rush for mover than 275 yards for the second straight week and the third time this season.
3. Lynden (4)
That monkey’s finally off their back. After three straight losses to Sedro-Woolley, including one in the 2014 state title game and another that kept them out of the state playoffs last year, the Lions stepped up with a strong all-around effort to beat the Cubs last week. They can’t led down against Lakewood.
4. Mount Baker (3)
Jed Schleimer doesn’t need to set state single-game rushing records to have a big game. He proved last week he can inflict just as much damage catching the ball, pulling in four passes for 92 yards and two TDs to help the Mountaineers win their eighth straight 1A NWC game.
5. Blaine (5)
The Borderites bounced back by earning a 24-17 win over Bellingham last week in a game that could prove to be important for advancing to the district playoffs. Riley Fritsch was a workhorse with 31 carries for 209 and is putting heat on Schleimer for the county rushing lead.
6. Meridian (7)
The Trojans needed to come back from a poor first quarter to get the win in their 1A NWC opener against Lynden Christian. Getting a pair of 100-yard rushing performances from Tony Schleimer and Simon Burkett definitely helped the rally, as did three TD passes from Burkett.
7. Nooksack Valley (6)
Despite last week’s loss to Mount Baker, the Pioneers definitely are not the same team that allowed a state single-game rushing record in that same game last year. And with Casey Bauman an his 272.5 yards passing per game, Nooksack Valley should rarely be out of any games.
8. Bellingham (8)
The Red Raiders’ return to the 2A NWC hasn’t netted any victories, yet, but Bellingham was quite competitive in last week’s loss at Blaine. Things won’t get much easier this week with a game against No. 8 Burlington-Edison, but the team is definitely continuing to make strides.
9. Lynden Christian (9)
Don’t write the Lyncs off, yet. They gave Meridian all it could handle in its 1A NWC opener last week. If they can keep improving, there’s no reason to think they can’t thrust themselves into the middle of the postseason race, especially with a another couple big games from quarterback Colby Flint.
10. Sehome (10)
What appeared to be the Mariners’ best chance to get a win this year slipped away with last week’s 35-27 loss to Anacortes, despite 176 total yards from Marcus Montag. Now Sehome must try to steal a win from one of five teams expected to battling to advance to the district playoffs.