Just one week remains in the 2016 high school football regular season, so it’s about time to take a peek ahead and see what Whatcom County football teams can expect when it comes to positioning themselves for the postseason.
Class 3A: At press time for this story on Saturday, Oct. 22, the Ferndale-Squalicum football game had not yet kicked off, but the race still cleared up a little bit Friday, Oct. 21. Whichever team emerged from Saturday’s battle with an unblemished record will be crowned 3A Wesco North Division champion and receive the Wesco’s No. 2 seed to the Week 10 quad-district playoffs Nov. 4 or 5. They would host the Metro League’s No. 5 seed in a winner-to-state game, the winner of which will host the West-Central District’s No. 4 in a first-round game in the state playoffs. With Arlington’s 22-21 loss to Oak Harbor Friday, the loser between the Golden Eagles and Storm was guaranteed second place in the division and receive the Wesco’s No. 4 seed to the quad-district playoffs. They will host the South Sound Conference’s No. 3 seed in a winner-to-state game, the winner of which will travel to meet the Sea-King District No. 1 in the first round of state.
Class 2A: Lynden’s 31-17 win over Burlington-Edison Friday clinched the 2A NWC title for the Lions. As the North No. 1 seed, they will host the South No. 4 seed in the Class 2A Northwest District playoffs Nov. 4 or 5 in a winner-to-state game. Sedro-Woolley is locked in as the North No. 2 seed, and Blaine has clinched at least a spot in a tie-breaker for the district playoffs. Blaine currently stands third in the 2A NWC standings and plays Burlington-Edison Thursday, Oct. 27. If the Borderites win, they lock up the North No. 3 seed. If they lose Thursday, they would be the North No. 4 seed if Lakewood loses either of its final two games – Thursday Oct. 27 against Bellingham or Nov. 1 against Burlington. Should Burlington beat Blaine and lose to Lakewood and Lakewood beat Bellingham, all three teams would finish tied for the third and fourth spots with 4-3 league records and a win and and loss in games against each other. A tie-breaker would need to be used to determine which teams would get the North’s third and fourth seeds to the district playoffs.
Class 1A: Mount Baker clinched the outright 1A NWC title with Friday’s 41-12 win over Lynden Christian and will host the Cascade Conference No. 2 seed in the Nov. 4 or 5 Class 1A Northwest District playoffs in a winner-to-state game. Meridian moved ahead of Nooksack Valley for the 1A NWC’s No. 2 seed to district with Friday’s 47-20 win over the Pioneers. If the Trojans beat Mount Baker in Week 9 or Nooksack Valley loses to Lynden Christian, Meridian would get the No. 2 seed and travel to face the Cascade’s No. 1 seed in the district playoffs. If Meridian loses and Nooksack Valley wins, the teams would be tied with 3-3 league records and a win and a loss against each other. Meridian would then host a game to break the tie Nov. 1, according to Nooksack Valley athletic director Tom Harmon, who also said this week’s 1A NWC games will be moved to Thursday to accomodate the potential tie-breaker. At press time, the 1A NWC schedule on nwcathletics.com still listed both Week 9 games as being on Friday.
Class 1B: Lummi hosts Neah Bay Friday, Oct. 28, in a game that will determine the Northwest Football League 1B title and which team gets a higher seed into the quad-district playoffs. The top seed in District 1/3 receives an automatic berth to the state playoffs, while the No. 2 seed will host the District 2 No. 4 seed in the quad-district playoffs Nov. 4 or 5.
Squalicum’s 3A Wesco North Division game against Arlington has been moved to Thursday, Oct. 27. Kick off still is set for 7 p.m. at Arlington.
The move appears to have been made to accomodate the possibility of a tie-breaker involving Arlington.
With the win over Nooksack Valley, Meridian controls its own destiny, as it hosts to Mount Baker next week. With a win over the Mountaineers, the Trojans can take the second 1A NWC playoff spot and eliminate Nooksack Valley. Defeating the undefeated juggernaut is easier said than done, however.
“Their playbook, now, has got all these extra things that fold out and their kids play hard,” Meridian coach Bob Ames said. “They’re so fundamentally sound.”
Ames is a master at talking up his opponents, but the third-ranked Mountaineers really are that good. Meridian lost 41-28 in the their first meeting Oct. 7
Nooksack Valley needs a win over Lynden Christian next week to have a chance at a tie-breaker against Meridian. Lynden Christian is 1-7 this season, and the Pioneers won the first meeting 35-32 at home.
Execution pays off
Tenacity proved to be the difference in Lynden’s 31-17 victory over Burlington-Edison Friday, which helped the Lions capture the 2A Northwest Conference title.
“There’s not any one thing I can point to,” Lynden coach Curt Kramme said. “It’s just that we found way to execute.”
And execute, they did. Holding a comfortable 17-3 lead in the third quarter, the Lions surrendered two touchdowns in a span of six minutes, tying the game at 17.
“They’re a quality offense,” Kramme said, “and that quarterback is a fine quarterback.”
But Lynden quarterback Jacob Hommes darted 36-yards on a third-and-10, setting up his 7-yard touchdown dash to give the Lions a 7-point advantage.
“Running the ball worked really well,” Hommes said.
Lynden’s defense caused and recovered a fumble on Burlington-Edison’s next possession, giving the Lions the ball with three minutes remaining.
“I thought we took away their running game,” Kramme said. “We made them throw. And then we were getting enough pressure on their quarterback. That kind of made some of his throws less accurate.”
Hommes put the game out of reach with another 7-yard scoring run.
“We found way to get the ball down the field,” Kramme said. “We found ways to get out of our own way too.”
Starting off right
The Bellingham football team may have forced Anacortes to turn the ball over seven times in its 32-14 win, Friday, but the real difference in the game was the field position advantage Bellingham had.
Eight out of Bellingham’s 13 possessions started in Seahawks’ territory, and each of the Red Raiders’ five touchdowns were scored starting on the opposite side of the 50-yard line. Six of those eight times were due to Anacortes turning the ball over in its own territory.
In contrast, only two of the Seahawks’ 12 drives started in Bellingham territory, and Anacortes only scored on one of those drivers.