It didn’t take long for the Ferndale and Squalicum football teams to make themselves at home in the 3A Wesco North Division – the Golden Eagles and Storm came right in, raided the fridge, grabbed the TV remote, plopped in the middle of the sofa and put their feet up like they owned the place.
They’ve certainly owned the division in 2016, with both teams winning their first four league games since joining their 3A neighbors to the south this season in convincing fashion – Squalicum by an average margin of 37.3 points and Ferndale by 35.3 points.
On Saturday, Oct. 22, the third-ranked Storm and fourth-ranked Golden Eagles will play for the division title in a 7 p.m. showdown at Civic Stadium.
This week, they finally learned what winning the division title will mean for their road to and through the 3A state playoffs.
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Squalicum athletic director Patrick Brown said the North Division champion will receive the 3A Wesco’s No. 2 seed into the Week 10 quad-district playoffs, while the 3A Wesco South Division won the draw and its champion will receive the No. 1 seed.
As the Wesco No. 2, the North Division champ will host a Nov. 4 or 5 quad-district playoff game against the Metro League’s No. 5 seed. The winner of that game will receive the Northwest District’s No. 2 seed into the 3A state playoffs, host a first-round state game against the West Central District’s No. 4 seed and likely will be on the opposite side of the state bracket from No. 1 Eastside Catholic and No. 2 O’Dea.
The second-place team in the 3A Wesco North will receive the Wesco’s No. 4 seed to the quad-district playoffs. Ferndale is guaranteed of finishing no lower than second in the division, while Squalicum could finish lower should it finish the regular season with losses to the Golden Eagles and Arlington on Friday, Oct. 28.
The Wesco No. 4 seed also will host a Nov. 4 or 5 quad-district playoff game against the South Sound Conference No. 3 seed. The winner of that game would be the Northwest District No. 4 seed to state, meaning it would have to play at the Sea-King District No. 1 seed – likely O’Dea after its 20-17 win over Eastside Catholic on Friday, Oct. 14 – in the first round of the state playoffs.
But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s enjoy Saturday’s showdown of unbeatens for the North Division title.
Big game tickets
Presale tickets for the Ferndale-Squalicum showdown will begin Monday, Oct. 17, at the Associated Student Body offices at both schools and run through Friday, Oct. 21.
Tickets bought before game day cost the same as they do at the gate ($6 for adults, $3 for students with ASB card and senior citizens), but ticket lines can be avoided. Cash and checks are the only forms of payment accepted.
Plenty of playmakers for Storm
Triston Smith may have gotten a lot of attention Friday, and for good reason after scoring five touchdowns and piling up 277 total yards in a 56-0 win over Marysville-Getchell, but Squalicum has another dangerous weapon in receiver Ben Peterson.
Coach Nick Lucey praised the senior’s work ethic, saying he received text messages from Peterson in the winter asking him when the weight room would open – even on Christmas Day.
“He’s fun to watch, and he’s made big strides since his sophomore year,” Lucey said. “He’s gotten to be very hard to tackle.”
The Marysville-Getchell defense found out the hard way, allowing Peterson to saunter into the end zone twice – untouched both times. Peterson finished with 167 all-purpose yards, two scores and kicked all but two Storm extra points for good measure. He also squared up and made a hit on defense that was featured on KING 5’s Week 7: Top 5 Plays of the Week.
Ferndale focused on next week
After Ferndale’s seventh consecutive win Friday against Oak Harbor, it might be easy to start thinking about the postseason, but coach Jamie Plenkovich said it’s not yet on the Golden Eagles’ radar.
“We’ll worry about next week first,” he said. “Wherever that takes us.”
Bellingham’s better-than-average Joe
One of Bellingham’s biggest and best seniors isn’t just another Joe. Joe Worley is listed as Joseph in the football program, but he says: “I’m OK with Joe.” He’s also OK with football.
“I didn’t start playing football until my junior year,” he said. “It’s awesome.”
Worley, who rushed for 40 yards on six second-half carries in Bellingham’s 49-18 loss to Sedro-Woolley on Friday, may be needed more now. Shortly after team rushing leader Connor Wallace scored on a 68-yard run in heavy rain and wind in the second quarter, he suffered an injury of undetermined severity and could not return.
Worley, a 6-foot-4, 250-pound multisport athlete, also caught two passes for 15 yards, including a 10-yard touchdown.
When it rains ...
Though remnants of a typhoon really didn’t hit Western Washington with much impact Friday night, Lynden and Anacortes each seemed to be battling personal storms.
The Lions and Seahawks each fumbled and lost possession on their first drive, with Lynden coughing up the ball in the red zone after threatening to score on a long drive into Seahawks territory. Anacortes fumbled five times, losing three, while Lynden fumbled twice, losing one.
Both teams struggled to move the ball in the first half and headed to the locker room with a 7-7 stalemate.
Lynden had problems getting its passing game going and was plagued with stalled drives aided by overthrown passes and dropped balls.
“When we have wide-open receivers,” Lynden coach Curt Kramme said, “that’s not executing.”
The Lions got it going in the second half, reeling off 28 unanswered points to pull away for a 35-7 victory.
“Great effort in the second half,” Kramme said. “We just executed better. … This is our first time playing in wet weather. It takes some getting used to.”
Sehome looking for a win
After another disappointing loss Friday, Sehome coach Bob Norvell spoke to his huddled team about his expectations.
“I told them at some point I’d like to have these seniors and guys that put in the hard work be able to finish a football game with a win,” Norvell said.
Twelve of 43 team members are seniors, including all-purpose player Marcus Montag. The Mariners have yet to win a game in Northwest Conference play and have lost 15 straight dating to a Sept. 11, 2015, win over Bellingham.
Blaine shows toughness
One of Blaine’s most dominating factors in Friday’s 44-7 win over Lakewood was the Borderites’ yards gained after contact.
Running back Riley Fritsch would be hit at the line of scrimmage, then push left or right around defenders, allowing him to average almost 7 yards per carry.
Being able to finish runs allowed the Borderites to score their sixth touchdown, when junior Julian Gonzalez broke five tackles and scrambled 35 yards.
While Blaine was dangerously effective on the ground, quarterback senior Jalen Kortlever was unafraid to challenge on deep throws, connecting on five passes longer than 12 yards.
The Blaine defense, meanwhile, also had a big game, pressuring Lakewood quarterback Austin Lane and sacking him four times.