As far as picking winners goes, Week 4 was one to forget. My picks went 5-3. I was over .500, but left more to be desired as far as expert analysis goes. My incorrect selections included picking Ferndale over Burlington-Edison, Nooksack Valley over Mount Baker and Sehome over Blaine. Still, picking Bellingham to win for the first time in 16 games deserves some sort of extra consolation, right?
On tap this week gives us a pair of important early Class 1A league games. Mount Baker and Meridian will each be looking to take an early hold on the 1A race, while Nooksack Valley and Lynden Christian need a win to prevent either of them from falling in a deep 0-2 hole. Squalicum, which has is trying to brave a front-loaded schedule, is looking to avoid going 0-3, but it will be tough against the surprise of the Northwest Conference so far, Burlington-Edison. The Cubs face the tough task of playing Blaine on the road, and Sehome will undoubtedly carry a chip on its shoulder heading into Lynden after suffering a disheartening one-point defeat last week. Should be another Friday filled with good games. Here is how I believe things will shake out:
Friday Harbor (3-1) at Bellingham (1-3)
What an effort from Tanner Aliff and the Red Raiders last week. Aliff’s 449 yards ranked sixth among the all-time rushing performances in Washington state history. Bellingham snapped a 15-game losing streak, and now that its won a game, how do the Red Raiders respond? While I believe Bellingham will have ample opportunity to win more games this season, Friday Harbor is a respectable opponent. The Wolverines have players and should more than just compete against the Red Raiders. I think it will be close, but ultimately Bellingham won’t be able to recreate last week’s magic and how long can the Red Raiders get away with not attempting a single pass?
Ferndale (1-3, 1-1 NWC 2A/3A) at Anacortes (1-3, 0-2 NWC 2A/3A)
I don’t think anybody, certainly anyone inside Ferndale, expected the Golden Eagles to have one win through their first four games. The record is deceptive, as Ferndale has played some tough competition. With the increase in talent among the 2A schools, there’s only one gimme game the rest of the way and that game is this week against Anacortes. Lead back Marcus Nightingale was bottled up a week ago, but I see him running through the Seahawks’ defense. Ferndale scores early and scores often in this one as the Golden Eagles roll to a big win.
Sedro-Woolley (4-0, 2-0 NWC 2A/3A) at Blaine (3-1, 1-1 NWC 2A/3A)
These are two tough, physical teams who love to hit, and if the Borderites are still riding the euphoria of their big win against Sehome last week, this could be a good one. The Cubs are strong. I see the NWC title coming down to the Lynden-Sedro game, but nothing’s set in stone, and Blaine surely won’t lay down easily. Squalicum showed an ability last week to slow down Sedro-Woolley’s wing-T predominate offense. But its the Cubs’ defense against Blaine’s offense that I’m worried about. Sedro-Woolley has allowed 229 rushing yards on 111 carries this fall and has given up one passing touchdown to seven interceptions. If Nate Kramme and the Borderites can send the seventh-ranked team in 2A home with a loss, it would be mighty impressive.
Lynden Christian (3-1, 0-1 NWC 1A) at Nooksack Valley (2-2, 0-1 NWC 1A)
The only thing worse than starting a four-team league race with an opening loss is being the conference’s only two-loss team two weeks into league play. A loss for either team here will hurt, bad. Turnovers cost the Lyncs last week, and Nooksack Valley had trouble putting the ball in the end zone against Mount Baker’s stingy defense. Both teams are senior heavy, and I expect both to play with an edge, but at the end of the day Nooksack Valley has too much talent to fall to 0-2 in the conference. LC will hang in the first half, but I expect Tanner Myhre to lead the Pioneers to victory down the stretch.
Sehome (2-2, 1-1 NWC 2A/3A) at Lynden (4-0, 2-0 NWC 2A/3A)
The No. 1-ranked Lions just keep rolling along as they won their 31st straight game last week in a blowout win against Anacortes. And Lynden did it with a handful of starters out with injury. Not sure what the status of players such as Trent Postma and Scooter Hastings is for this contest, but the Lions are so solid all the way around I don’t know how much it even matters. The Mariners are coming off a brutal one-point loss, and I expect Sehome to come out determined, but ultimately Lynden has the athletes to slow down Taylor Rapp and company.
Meridian (3-1, 1-0 NWC 1A) at Mount Baker (3-1, 1-0 NWC 1A)
Perhaps experience is overrated. Mount Baker and Meridian entered the year as two of the most inexperienced teams in all of the Northwest Conference. But five weeks in, both programs are ranked in the top 10 in Class 1A. Coach Ron Lepper has his running game going with Liam Short leading the way, and Meridian came up with multiple big plays last week against Lynden Christian. This could end up being the game of the week, but in the end I see Mount Baker grinding down the Trojans and taking an early lead in the 1A NWC race.
Burlington-Edison (3-1, 1-1 NWC 2A/3A) at Squalicum (2-2, 0-2 NWC 2A/3A)
What a gauntlet Squalicum has been forced to navigate early in Northwest Conference play. First Lynden, then Sedro-Woolley, now upstart Burlington-Edison. The Storm need a win, plain and simple. While I still think Squalicum is one of the league’s premier teams, digging out of an 0-3 hold would be awfully tough. For the second straight week the Storm face a tough defense, but I expect coach Nick Lucey to have Christian Jorgensen and Squalicum’s offense ready to go. Should be a tight game all the way, but I expect the Storm to rally and come out with a late-night W at Civic Stadium.
Clallam Bay (3-1) at Lummi (2-2)
Not very many 2-2 teams are ranked No. 4 in their respective classification, but Lummi has built a strong reputation and opened the season with two difficult matchups. Despite the losses, the Blackhawks have been playing good ball the past two weeks, earning lopsided wins in each contest. Clallam Bay won’t be a pushover, but I fully anticipate Lummi handling its business at home this week.
Check back next week for my Week 6 predictions.
|Week 4 Picks/Results|
|Matchup||My prediction||Actual score|
|Anacortes at Lynden||Lynden 45-10||Lynden 35-7|
|Squalicum at Sedro-Woolley||Sedro-Woolley 28-21||Sedro-Woolley 30-7|
|Blaine at Sehome||Sehome 35-27||Blaine 20-19|
|Burlington-Edison at Ferndale||Ferndale 31-14||Burlington-Edison 28-6|
|Lynden Christian at Meridian||Meridian 24-20||Meridian 27-10|
|Mount Baker at Nooksack Valley||Nooksack Valley 31-21||Mount Baker 24-14|
|Bellingham at Charles Wright Academy||Bellingham 30-28||Bellingham 47-30|
|Lummi at Entiat||Lummi 48-32||Lummi 50-16|