Shock, uncertainty, hurt were just a few of the emotions permeating throughout Lynden’s locker room five weeks ago after the Lions suffered a dreadful 27-0 home loss to Northwest Conference-leading Squalicum.
The defeat was Lynden’s second in three games and third out of its last four dating back to last season’s state championship loss to Sedro-Woolley.
One would have to venture back to 2008 when the Lions went 2-2 during their first four games to witness that amount of adversity in Lynden.
“Uncertainty might be a word for after the game,” senior standout QB Sterling Somers said. “I think we could have went one or two ways after that game. Personally, I was shocked. ... People were shocked, because that has never really happened”
But shock turned to acceptance and an understanding among the team that the lopsided defeat was a feeling none of the team wanted to experience again.
As early as that night, Somers said, the team vented during a group chat and became committed to turning Lynden’s season around.
And during the ensuing four weeks, the Lions have proved it.
As a team I think we all bought into really how good we could be. You could tell there was a little extra at practice and extra heart.
Lynden receiver/defensive back Jordan Wittenberg
Lynden followed the defeat with back-to-back lopsided wins against Anacortes and Sehome, and then earned a crucial home win against Burlington-Edison two weeks ago. Last week Lynden took an us-against-the-world approach, pulling off what some considered an upset over rival Ferndale on the road.
Now the Lions (5-2, 4-1 NWC), in the thick of a muddled race for postseason berths, face Sedro-Wolley in a rematch of last year’s Class 2A state title game the Cubs won 42-13 at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 23, at Lynden High School.
“For us to think we have arrived because we have had a couple of good games would be foolish,” Lynden coach Curt Kramme said. “What’s gotten us to this point is maybe an internal hunger within the kids.”
Although Kramme made clear the Lions haven’t accomplished anything yet, and they haven’t, it’s hard not to admire their turnaround, especially for a team that’s rarely encountered such extreme adversity.
“As a team I think we all bought into really how good we could be,” senior two-way starter Jordan Wittenberg said. “You could tell there was a little extra at practice and extra heart.”
The two early losses served as a wake-up call, and the Lions awoke by dispensing increased effort and making some personnel moves.
Perhaps no move has been bigger, Kramme said, than the team’s decision to move talented junior Brody Weinheimer from running back to offensive line.
We are talented enough. I told the kids back in June talent will only get you so far. It’s got to be more than talent, and maybe it took those two losses to figure out that that was true.
Lynden coach Curt Kramme
Weinheimer instantly made the Lions’ front five more athletic, and Weinheimer’s willingness to move sent a message to the rest of the team.
“After the Squalicum game, I told the boys the selfishness has to end,” Kramme said. “That, to me, was maybe one of the bigger turning points in the season when he said, ‘I will do that.’”
But it’s been a total team buy-in.
Somers and Wittenberg have put up great numbers, sure, but unheralded players such as senior defensive tackle Nathan Gomes and integral scout players Tristan Moffat and Christian Payne have played major parts in improving the Lions’ play.
“We are talented enough,” Kramme admitted. “I told the kids back in June talent will only get you so far. It’s got to be more than talent, and maybe it took those two losses to figure out that that was true.”