High School Sports

PREP FOOTBALL: Today's game preview

CLASS 2A FIRST ROUND

BELLINGHAM VS. MARK MORRIS

Time: 7 p.m.

Site: Everett Memorial Stadium

Monarchs update: Mark Morris (8-2) finished second to Woodland in the Greater St. Helens League and beat Aberdeen 22-13 in the a play-in game to earn the District 3 No. 3 seed into the state playoffs. It is the schools’ first appearance at state since 1988, when it lost to Tumwater in the first round. The Monarchs run a Wing-T offense behind a mammoth offensive line that includes sophomore guard Jake Welch, who is already being recruited by Nebraska. Fullback Matt Minium has been the main beneficiary, rushing for 894 yards and 14 touchdowns, but speedy wingbacks T.J. Suek and Brian Crawford are also dangerous. Quarterback Kyel Lambert has passed for 919 yards and 13 touchdowns, but the Monarchs are primarily a rushing team. The defense is stout up front with Welch and fellow sophomore Taylor Beck (6-0, 250) and a group of speedy linebackers, but the secondary is a bit vulnerable. Mark Morris had two shutouts this season and held high-scoring Hockinson to nine points.

Red Raiders update: Bellingham (6-4) finished fourth in the Class 2A Northwest Conference and thought it was out of the playoffs after losing a North-west District crossover play-in game to Archbishop Murphy 28-6 on Nov. 3. But the Red Raiders got a second life when the WIAA forced the Wildcats to forfeit the game and their spot in the Class 2A state playoff bracket for using an ineligible player. “I told our guys that we got all the crying about our season being done out of the way, and now this is just free stuff,” Red Raiders coach Doug Trainor said. “I expect them to go all out.” Jeremy Rick has led a strong Bellingham running game with 1,070 yards and eight touchdowns. Taylor Perry provides a second weapon with his 547 yards rushing, and senior quarterback Zack Halverson (1,139 yards passing, 7 TDs) leads a solid passing attack. The Red Raiders defense also has played well in big games, holding high-powered Lynden to seven points, Ferndale to 24 and Burlington-Edison to 28 to keep Bellingham in all three games. Though this is Bellingham’s first trip to the state playoffs since 1987, Trainor led Ballard to the Class 4A state championship game in 2003.

Key to the game: By getting Archbishop Murphy’s spot in the playoffs, Bellingham actually received the No. 1 seed out of the Northwest District. If the Red Raiders had beaten the Wildcats on Nov. 3, they would have gotten the No. 4 seed and would have had to play at Fife last weekend, but the timing of the WIAA’s decision made it unrealistic to reschedule four playoff games. Bellingham has already experienced what it feels like to have its season end, so expect the Red Raiders to come out and play like they want to avoid that disappointment for the second time in less than two weeks. Mark Morris, meanwhile, had to scrap its game plan for Archbishop Murphy one day before it expected to play the Wildcats. With this being both teams’ first appear-ance in a state playoff game in nearly two decades, expect nerves to be an issue early. Whichever team settles down and can deal with the past week’s adversity the best will likely be the one moving on to play Prosser in the quarterfinals.

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