Mount Baker running back Liam Short’s bruising running style has been well documented, but in the Mountaineers’ biggest game this season, sophomore back Jed Schleimer proved Short’s not the only Baker back that’s a handful to bring down.
When asked about the duo’s performance postgame, Baker coach Ron Lepper at first could only laugh in disbelief.
“Offensive line did a nice job, and then our running backs just ran wild tonight,” Lepper said. “Just the effort, there were times they got hit early, kept their hands down for balance. I mean, it was a lot of fun to watch.”
There was no stopping Short and Schleimer Friday, Nov. 14, at Civic Stadium.
They ran through tackles, outran defenders, worked off blocks and simply wouldn’t go down without a fight.
The pair combined for 404 rushing yards, leading Mount Baker to a 41-28 Class 1A State Playoff opening-round win over Montesano.
Baker (9-2) will face either Eatonville or Charles Wright Academy next week in the 1A quarters.
“First off I have to give a lot of props to my offensive line,” said Schleimer, who ran for a season-best 191 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. “They came out first quarter, (played hard) throughout the game all 48 minutes, played Mount Baker football and just sealed the game for us.”
Short benefited greatly from Schleimer’s breakout performance, running for 213 yards and two TDs on 28 carries.
Both backs helped Baker race out to a 21-0 lead, setting the tone with physical, grinding drives.
Montesano’s defense had no answer for Baker’s wing-T in the first half. The Bulldogs gave up touchdowns on the Mountaineers’ first four possessions, and Baker averaged 8.9 yards per carry through the first two quarters.
Mount Baker did a nice job of keeping Montesano off-balance early, as Schleimer, Johnny Mata, Carson Schmidt and Zach Yurchuk logged the Mountaineers’ first-half TDs.
“We really controlled the ball when we had it,” Lepper said. “It takes some wind out of the other team when you can do that, hit them in the mouth play after play.”
Despite building a three-touchdown advantage, Montesano rallied back to make the game interesting. The Bulldogs, led by do-it-all quarterback Anthony Louthan, who ran for 112 yards and threw two touchdown passes, ventured on long TD drives on their own.
Montesano scored twice before the half, trailing 28-14 at the break, and the Bulldogs added an early touchdown in the third to trim the Mountaineers’ lead to 28-21 with 8:47 to go in the third.
But Baker answered with a 12-play, 80-yard touchdown drive capped off by a Short 14-yard TD run, extending the Mountaineers’ lead to 35-21 with 3:43 left in the third.
Following a Montesano punt, Short all but iced the game with 22-yard touchdown run midway through the fourth quarter.
“It means everything,” said Baker offensive lineman Chad Cohn of seeing his running backs perform like they did Friday. “We get fired up. They get fired up. We are pretty close, so when they do well we start going hard. It’s just great.”
The win also exacted some revenge for Baker, which lost to Montesano in the state semifinals 28-6 two years ago.
The Mountaineers finished with 458 rushing yards, quarterback Mason Bass was 2 of 4 for 33 yards with a 11-yard TD pass to Schmidt and defensive back Ruvim Tikhonov had a late interception to seal the game for good.
Reach Andrew Lang at email@example.com or call 360-756-2862. Follow @bhamsports on Twitter for Whatcom County sports updates.
MB — Jed Schleimer 9 run (kick fail)
MB — Carson Schmidt 11 pass from Mason Bass (Short run)
MB — Johnny Mata 8 run (Zane Smith kick)
Mont. — Logan Truax 41 pass from Anthony Louthan (Louthan kick)
MB — Zach Yurchuk 12 run (Smith kick)
Mont. — Truax 5 run (Louthan kick)
Mont. — Kylar Prante 9 pass from Louthan (Louthan kick)
MB — Liam Short 14 run (Smith kick)
MB — Short 22 run (kick fail)
Mont. — Kyle Englund 19 run (Louthan kick)
MBFirst downs1927Rushing Att-yards37-22456-458Comp-Att-Int10-19-12-4-1Passing yards17933Penalties-yards7-366-40Fumbles-lost0-00-0
RUSHING — Montesano: Anthony Louthan 17-112, Kyle Englund 9-57, Tanner Birdsall 7-32, Logan Truax 3-6, Kylar Prante 1-17. Mount Baker: Liam Short 28-213, Jed Schleimer 20-191, Zach Yurchuk 5-31, Johnny Mata 2-18, Mason Bass 1-5.
PASSING — Montesano: Anthony Louthan 10-19-179-1. Mount Baker: Mason Bass 2-4-33-1.
RECEIVING — Montesano: Kylar Prante 8-134, Loga Truax 2-45. Mount Baker: Jed Schleimer 1-22, Carson Schmidt 1-11.