Lynden (12-1) overcame sub-freezing temperatures and strong winds to earn a 33-6 Class 2A state semifinal win over Ellensburg last week in Moses Lake. The Lions scored on their first three possessions and were never seriously threatened. Sterling Somers completed 15 of 19 passes for 205 yards and two TDs and ran for 108 yards and two scores on 17 rushes. Jordan Wittenberg caught five passes for 106 yards and a TD, and Lynden’s defense limited Ellensburg to 197 total yards.
Lynden’s offense from Week 1 has looked to be in midseason form. Only twice have the Lions scored less than 30 points, but that doesn’t mean Lynden hasn’t dealt with adversity along the way. Without running back Trent Postma for several games, the Lions at times have leaned heavily on their passing game. Junior Sterling Somers is completing 65 percent of his passes and has thrown for 2,979 yards and 35 touchdowns. He’s had a great receiving corps, which includes Jordan Wittenberg, breakout senior Jonathan Whetnall and Scooter Hastings, to throw to. Wittenberg leads the group with 83 receptions, 1,420 yards and 14 TDs. Somers and Postma have supplied the Lions’ rushing attack. Postma has 831 yards and nine TDs, and Somers has compiled 592 yards and nine scores. The engine behind Lynden’s offense is a talented line composed of seniors Bryce Sterk, Caden Lair, Derron Dunnigan, junior Jensen Mayberry and sophomore Tanner Steele.
The defensive side of the football has been a work in progress for the Lions. They haven’t been the dominant force they were a season ago, but Lynden is beginning to peak at the right time. The defense, which has battled countless injuries, is giving up 20.2 points per game but has been rock solid since the postseason began a month ago. Lynden has a strong front, led by 6-foot-5, 230-pound senior defensive end Bryce Sterk, whose 74 tackles rank second on the team. Last year’s 2A state player of the year, Trent Postma, who leads the team with 78 tackles, and Jensen Mayberry man the linebacker spots. Jordan Wittenberg and Jonathan Whetnall are strong cornerbacks, and safeties Noah King and Connor Shine have done well replacing injured Lions’ starters.
Players to watch
Somers has put together a phenomenal year behind center, throwing for nearly 3,000 yards and 35 touchdowns. He’s also a threat with his legs, using his 6-foot-5, 205-pound build to gash defenses for 5 to 10 yards at a time. Even the biggest moment doesn’t seem too much for Somers to handle. He guided the Lions to a state championship a year ago, and flawlessly navigated his offense through this year’s postseason. Expect for him to be at his best against Sedro-Woolley.
Sterk is a freakish athlete and an imposing threat on both sides of the ball. He’s a tone setter, and on offense has been responsible for both keeping Somers upright and paving the way for Trent Postma and others. At defensive end, Sterk‘s 74 tackles ranks second on the team, and he’s a nightmare to block in the pass rush. He sacked Ellensburg’s quarterback three times last week and will be paramount in slowing down Sedro-Woolley’s run game.
An early injury during last year’s state title game held Postma out most of the contest. He’ll undoubtedly be itching to perform all four quarters this time around, especially now that he’s at full strength following some early-season injuries. The Lions gave up a season-high 373 rush yards against Sedro-Woolley in Week 8. That was with Postma sidelined. The senior leads the Lions with 78 tackles and will surely be a difference maker against the Cubs.
Lions keys to the game
1. MAKE ’EM EARN IT
Even though Lynden’s defense has improved over the second half of the season, Sedro-Woolley’s offense is strong enough to move the ball. Preventing big plays will be key. Mason Elms and Carter Crosby can score on any given play. If Sedro-Woolley puts points on the board, the Lions must make the Cubs earn it with 10-to-12-play drives.
2. UNVEIL THE WEAKNESS
The Lions’ offense is predicated on finding a defense’s weakness and exposing it. Sterling Somers and Jordan Wittenberg carved the Cubs’ secondary for 360 passing yards in October. Surely, Sedro-Woolley will give Lynden different looks this time around. The quicker the Lions discover the Cubs’ weakness, the better.
3. DON’T FALL ASLEEP
The Cubs do a great job of lulling defenses to sleep before taking deep shots to their speedy receivers. Lynden has a pair of newly inserted safeties in the mix in Noah King and Connor Shine. Both have been strong contributors coming down in run support, but they must stay alert for the Cubs’ deep pass plays.
to the final
|Sept. 5||King’s||W 48-22|
|Sept. 12||at Lakewood||W 38-21|
|Sept. 19||at Squalicum*||W 49-24|
|Sept. 26||Anacortes*||W 35-7|
|Oct. 3||Sehome*||W 35-17|
|Oct. 10||at Burlington-Ed.*||W 23-21|
|Oct. 17||Ferndale*||L 37-35|
|Oct. 24||at Sedro-Woolley*||W 33-30|
|Oct. 30||Blaine*||W 28-21|
|CLASS 2A NW DISTRICT PLAYOFFS|
|Nov. 7||Shorecrest||W 42-7|
|CLASS 2A STATE PLAYOFFS|
|Nov. 15||River Ridge||W 41-21|
|Nov. 22||Hockinson||W 52-28|
|Nov. 29||Ellensburg||W 33-6|
*NWC 2A/3A game
Lions state playoff history
|1974||1A||Lost in first round|
|1977||1A||Lost in semifinals|
|1979||1A||Lost in first round|
|1981||1A||Lost in quarterfinals|
|1982||1A||Lost in quarterfinals|
|1985||1A||Lost in quarterfinals|
|1988||1A||Lost in semifinals|
|1994||3A||Lost in first round|
|1996||3A||Lost in quarterfinals|
|1997||3A||Lost in first round|
|1998||3A||Lost in semifinals|
|2004||3A||Lost in semifinals|
|2007||2A||Lost in semifinals|
|2010||2A||Lost in first round|
Lions team statistics
|5.1||Yards per rush||4.4|
|10.2||Yards per pass attempt||6.8|
|7.5||Yards per offensive play||5.4|
|20.5||First downs per game||14.9|