What could possibly make a homecoming victory any better? For Meridian High School, the taste of victory was sweetened by a dominant performance against Nooksack Valley, keeping itself in the Class 1A Northwest Conference playoff hunt.
The 47-20 win Friday, Oct. 21, came in front of a large Meridian crowd that weathered a sporadic downpour.
Meridian scored less than two minutes into the game and did not look back. Its methodical offensive attack culminated in 27 first-half points, including a touchdown pass thrown by junior running back Tony Schleimer with 6 seconds left in the first half.
Schleimer received the handoff, feigned a run play, then found junior TJ Dykstra open in the corner of the end zone. Meridian rolled from there.
Nooksack Valley Junior quarterback Casey Bauman was able to extend plays with his legs and find his targets for much of the night, but Meridian’s defense would not break.
Star of the game
Bauman threw for more than 300 yards, often stretching plays and allowing his receivers to get open.
“Our receivers did a great job of getting off the line fast,” Bauman said. “I just trust them to throw the ball up to them and they’ll make plays.”
Play of the Night
With less than eight minutes remaining in the second half, Meridian sophomore quarterback Simon Burkett found Schleimer on a screen pass. Schleimer looked to be wrapped up but was able to duck a tackle and find space for a 26-yard touchdown.
What it means
With the win, Meridian stays in the hunt for the top playoff spot but will have to defeat a formidable Mount Baker team next week. Nooksack Valley is also vying for the league’s final playoff position but will need to defeat Lynden Christian and hope Meridian loses to Mount Baker to force a tie.
Nooksack Valley athletic director Tom Harmon said if there is a tie, Meridian will host Nooksack Valley in a tiebreaker game Nov. 1.
Unsung hero of the game
Schleimer carried the ball 24 times and proved to be a triple threat. He ran for one touchdown, caught another and threw for a 6-yard touchdown.
Mer – Cole Roberts 3 run (Nick Sebastian kick)
Mer – Tony Schleimer 2 run (kick blocked)
NV – Tre Silva 30 pass from Casey Bauman (Jordan Veening kick)
Mer – Schleimer 26 pass from Simon Burkett (Cole Roberts run)
NV – Michael O’Bryan 12 pass from Bauman (Veening kick)
Mer – TJ Dykstra 6 pass from Schleimer (run failed)
Mer – Andrew Logan 18 pass from Burkett (Schleimer run)
Mer – Burkett 1run (run failed)
NV – Colton Kautz 7 run(kick blocked)
Mer – Roberts7 run (kick failed)
RUSHING – Nooksack Valley: Devin Lackey 7-29, Colton Kautz 6-16. Meridian: Tony Schleimer 24-118, Cole Roberts 17-99, Simon Burkett 4-7, Andrew Logan 2-39.
PASSING – Nooksack Valley: Casey Bauman 17-27-2-326. Meridian: Simon Burkett 12-18-1-204, Tony Schleimer 1-1-0-10
RECEIVING – Nooksack Valley: Michael O’Bryan 7-87, Tre Silva 4-100, Kyle Veldman 4-89, Colton Kautz 1-44, Jeremy Dykes 1-6. Meridian: TJ Dykstra 4-96, Tony Schleimer 3-57, Andrew Logan 2-16, Dawson Phillips 1-13, Baker Otter 1-12, Cole Roberts 1-9, Lukas Hemenway 1-7.