In every possible instance, Squalicum’s athleticism peered through.
Nick Lucey, in his first game at the helm of the Storm football team, watched on as Josiah Westbrook, Nick Manchester, Damek Mitchell and his senior quarterback, Christian Jorgensen, put on an offensive display Bellingham simply couldn’t solve in a 55-13 win Friday night, Sept. 5, at Civic Stadium.
“I was really proud with the energy the boys brought,” Lucey said. “We’re trying to establish our brand of football, trying to be physical and be aggressive. I thought we saw a lot of pads popping.”
It didn’t take long for the highly-anticipated offense to strike, putting together an 11-play, 75-yard opening drive capped by a Manchester 3-yard score to take a lead Squalicum would never relinquish.
But the sustained drive did more than punctuate the start of Lucey’s era — it illustrated the weapons he’s working with and the offensive potential they posses.
Jorgensen, operating out the shotgun and pistol the entire game, hit Mitchell with a nice touch pass for 18 yards, followed by a beautiful 22-yard gain down the seem to sophomore wideout Ben Peterson.
The senior signal caller overcame 15 yards in penalties to finish the drive 5 of 5 passing for 69 yards, Manchester stealing his thunder with a bruising TD score.
“I don’t have this one guy. I have so many guys,” said Jorgensen of Mitchell, Peterson and Westbrook. “If teams want to double-team one guy, I’ll just go to the other side. You
can’t guard it.”
Jorgensen finished an efficient 10-of-12 passing for 110 yards, including an impressive 32-yard touchdown strike to Westbrook, who showed every bit of his 6-foor-2 frame when he elevated up to snatch the ball out of the air, breaking two tackles on his way to giving Squalicum a 48-0 halftime lead.
“Obviously he’s a basketball player,” Jorgensen said laughing.
Added Lucey: “It’s just about being creative and finding ways to get them the ball.”
Countering Lucey was new Bellingham coach Ted Flint, who took over a Red Raider program that went winless in 2013. And despite the lopsided score, Bellingham, which struggled suiting up enough players to field a complete team last year, had no such trouble Friday.
“Just the atmosphere,” said senior quarterback Kalien Hayes when asked what the difference is under Flint. “With the team, guys are buying into the coach and not giving up. We’re working hard the whole game.”
The Red Raiders displayed that new-found grit by scoring two second-half touchdowns — both of which came off lengthy runs by Hayes, the first of which being an 80-yarder where he simply outran the Storm’s defense.
That in and of itself is reason, Flint said, for optimism.
“We still have a lot of things we can fix, but when it comes to effort, it was great. You can’t fault their effort,” Flint said. “But Squalicum is a great team. We kind of were shell-shocked at first because they have awesome speed.”
Bellingham couldn’t get out of its own way early, allowing the Storm to score on a blocked punt that Jack Wendling returned for a 14-0 lead. The very next offensive possession for the Red Raiders, Hayes leaked out to the right side, losing handle of the football and watching Peterson scoop it up for a 15-yard return.
From there, the Storm’s ground game began to wear down the Red Raiders’ front line to the tune of 199 yards on 24 carries. Manchester would add his second score with a 6-yard run up the middle, Jordan Campbell then going 20 yards for a TD on the next possession and Mitchell busting loose for a 51-yard run score to follow that.
Mitchell, who’s just a sophomore, made work of three would-be tacklers on the lengthy and impressive touchdown.
“Damek is kind of like our Percy Harvin,” Lucey said.
Will Nickelson added Squalicum’s final rushing touchdown late in the fourth.
Hayes led the Red Raiders with the two touchdown scores, totaling 170 yards on eight carries. Proficiency is going to be key for Bellingham moving forward, Flint said, becoming more precise while running the Wing-T offense.
In fitting fashion, the Storm broke its huddle to end the game signaling a new day for Squalicum football.
In unison, they shouted “New era.” And so it is for both teams.
Squalicum — Nick Manchester 2 run (Ben Peterson PAT)
Squalicum — Jack Wendling return off blocked punt (Peterson PAT)
Squalicum — Peterson return fumble (Peterson PAT)
Squalicum — Manchester 6 run (Peterson PAT)
Squalicum — Jordan Campbell 20 run (Peterson PAT)
Squalicum — Damek Mitchell 51 run (Peterson PAT)
Squalicum — Christian Jorgensen 32 pass to Josiah Westbrook (PAT no good)
Bellingham — Kailen Hayes 80 run (Jace King PAT)
Squalicum — Will Nickelson 6 run (Peterson PAT)
Bellingham — Hayes 15 run (PAT no good)
RUSHING — Squalicum: Damek Mitchell 3- 69; Nick Manchester 5-46; Jordan Campbell 6-32; Mac Walker 3-32; Bunji McLeod 4-17; Will Nickelson 2-6; Christian Jorgensen 1- -3. Bellingham: Tanner Aliff 10-35; Kalien Hayes 8-170; Jacob Frazier 6-22; Sean Ryder 3- -7; Colin Bigelow 1-0; Cole Allain 1-30; Chris Thompson 1-0; Zach Lorenz 1- -2.
PASSING — Squalicum: Christian Jorgensen 10-12-110-1; Darious Powell 0-1-0-0. Bellingham: Kalien Hayes 2-5-8-0
RECEIVING — Squalicum: Ben Peterson 5-39; Josiah Westbrook 2-38; Damek Mitchell 1-18; Coleman Schwab 1-30; Creighton Kaui 1-15. Bellingham: Colin Bigelow 1-14; Zach Lorenz 1- -6.