Blaine and Meridian have had more than their share of rugged running backs who could carry 30 or more times per game in recent years, but this season it’s bombs away for both teams.
Both squads showed why, as Blaine senior Jalen Kortlever and Meridian junior Simon Burkett combined to pass for 501 yards and seven touchdowns. But the Borderites (2-0) turned in enough big plays to claim a wild 45-35 nonleague win over the Trojans (1-1) on Friday, Sept 9.
Blaine sophomore Chase Abshere caught five passes for 112 yards, including touchdowns of 30 yards – with a sensational diving grab – and 6 yards, and Brian Davis kicked a 28-yard field goal, as the Borderites scored 17 consecutive points in the third quarter, snapping a 21-21 tie.
Blaine star Anthony Ball caught two first-half touchdown passes despite double coverage, and the old reliable, senior Riley Fritsch, gained 64 yards on 16 carries while scoring Blaine’s first and last touchdowns.
Kortlever on target
“I’m really pleased because we played so hard,” Meridian coach Bob Ames said. “That Blaine kid (Kortlever) didn’t miss a throw, didn’t miss a read all night.”
Kortlever completed 11 of 16 passes, including four touchdowns. He connected with Ball four times for 52 yards and Alfonso Dermendziev twice for 60 yards, including a diving 52-yard grab to set up Ball’s 5-yard touchdown catch on the final play of the first half.
“Alfonso really made big plays,” Blaine coach Jay Dodd said of the senior who is playing offense for the first time.
Burkett zeroes in
Meridian ran 40 plays from scrimmage in the first half compared to Blaine’s 15. Burkett threw for scores of 4 and 11 yards to junior TJ Dykstra. Junior Tony Schleimer – who gained a game-high 74 yards on 14 carries – scored on a 7-yard run.
Burkett finished 19 for 33 for 277 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for another score. He threw to six receivers, including seven completions to Dykstra for 120 yards. Dykstra’s 66-yard catch-and-run set up Burkett’s 5-yard scoring pass to Dawson Phillips with six seconds to play. Bryce VandenHaak gained 107 total yards and Schleimer had a combined 131.
“Meridian showed a lot. I think they’ll be right up there,” in the Northwest Conference 1A scramble, Dodd said.
Mer -- T.J. Dykstra 4 pass from Simon Burkett (Jordan Birnel kick)
Bla -- Riley Fritsch 10 run (Kyle Sentkowski kick)
Mer -- Dykstra 11 pass from Burkett (Birnel kick)
Bla -- Anthony Ball 36 pass from Jalen Kortlever (Sentkowski kick)
Mer -- Tony Schleimer 7 run (Birnel kick)
Bla -- Ball 5 pass from Kortlever (Sentkowski kick)
Bla -- Chase Abshere 30 pass from Kortlever (Sentkowski kick)
Bla -- Sentkowski FG 28
Bla -- Abshere 6 pass from Kortlever (Sentkowski kick)
Mer -- Burkett 1 run (Birnel kick)
Bla -- Fritsch 2 run (Sentkowski kick)
Mer -- Dawson Phillips 5 pass from Burkett (Birnel kick)
RUSHING: Blaine – Riley Fritsch 16-64, Jalen Kortlever 4-(-4), Garrett Adams 1-0, Julian Gonzalez 1-2. Meridian – Tony Schleimer 14-74, Simon Burkett 7-47, Cole Roberts 5-36, Oscar Madrigal 1-0, Bryce Vandenhaak 10-34.
PASSING: Blaine – Jalen Kortlever 11-16-224-0. Meridian -- Simon Burkett 19-33-277-0.
RECEIVING: Blaine – Anthony Ball 4-52, Chase Abshere 5-112, Alfonso Dermendziev 2-60. Meridian: T.J. Dykstra 7-120, Tony Schleimer 4-57, Bryce Vandenhaak 3-63, Lucas Hemenway 2-17, Dawson Phillips 2-12, Andrew Logan 1-8.
Blaine kicker corrected Sept. 12, 2016.