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Red Raiders top 2A Highline with defensive performance

Bellingham’s football will be at least .500 at season’s end. That is a guarantee after Bellingham’s big win over 2A Highline, which plays out of Burien.

The Red Raiders (5-4) traveled the two hours to face the Pirates and handed it to them 41-14 on Friday, Oct. 31, at Highline Stadium.

Highline is also the first 2A team the Red Raiders have beat on the season. The previous 2A teams the Red Raiders have played were Squalicum and Sehome. Bellingham is also a 2A school.

It was a performance led by the defense, which had three interceptions and two defensive touchdowns.

But it didn’t start well for the Red Raiders’ defense. On Highline’s first drive, the Pirates drove the length of the field to make it 7-0.

“They started out playing well, they had us on our heels,” Bellingham coach Ted Flint said in a phone interview. “After that, we settled down and controlled the game.”

Bellingham responded immediately with a touchdown of its own.

On Highline’s next possession, the Red Raiders blocked a field goal and ran it back for a touchdown to make it 14-7.

“We pretty much dominated after that,” Flint said.

The Red Raiders went on to score 27 more points and only a late Highline touchdown could counter.

Tanner Aliff and Kalien Hayes both had big days, Flint said, but no stats could be provided until after Flint reviewed the game film. Flint also highlighted his offensive line as a key to the win, saying they controlled the line of scrimmage all night.

Despite the continued strong performances of Aliff and Hayes, it was still the defense that impressed the most.

“Our defense played the best game they have this year,” Flint said. “They had several personal stops, turned the ball over a couple times — three interceptions.”

The Red Raiders play Friday Harbor on Thursday, Nov. 6, at Friday Harbor. Kickoff is scheduled for 5 p.m. They beat Friday Harbor once already this season — a 21-19 win on Oct. 3.

“They’re excited,” Flint said. “They want to finish with a winning season.”

But even with a loss next Thursday, the Red Raiders have accomplished something a Bellingham team hasn’t done since 2008 — have a non-losing season.

In 2008, the Red Raiders finished 5-4. Since then, they’ve gone 10-41 and, this season, decided to go independent instead of being a part of the tough Northwest Conference.