High School Football

Blaine, Meridian, Nooksack football teams hoping their playoff bubbles don’t burst

Blaine’s Riley Fritsch, from left, Meridian’s Andrew Logan and Nooksack Valley’s Tre Silva will have to wait a few more days to see if they will get to carry their teams to the postseason.
Blaine’s Riley Fritsch, from left, Meridian’s Andrew Logan and Nooksack Valley’s Tre Silva will have to wait a few more days to see if they will get to carry their teams to the postseason. The Bellingham Herald

Though the Week 10 playoff picture came into focus with the conclusion of the regular season Friday, Oct. 28, three Whatcom County football teams will have to live on the bubble for a few more days.

With Meridian’s 49-7 loss to Mount Baker and Nooksack Valley’s 32-21 victory over Lynden Christian on Friday, the Trojans (4-5, 3-3 1A NWC) and Pioneers (5-4, 3-3) finished in a tie for the second and final playoff spot out of the Class 1A Northwest Conference with matching league marks and head-to-head wins.

The teams will play a Kansas Tiebreaker – much like an overtime period in high school or college football, where each team gets a chance to score from their opponent’s 25-yard line – at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Sedro-Woolley High School. The tiebreaker winner will move on to the Class 1A Northwest District playoffs and travel to King’s (6-2) for a 7 p.m. winner-to-state game Saturday.

Blaine (6-3, 4-3 2A NWC) is the third area team still with some doubt about what next week will hold. Despite a 17-12 loss at Burlington-Edison on Thursday, the Borderites have clinched at least a tie to move on to the Class 2A bi-district playoffs. But because Lakewood’s Sept. 23 game at Burlington-Edison had to be suspended because of the nearby Cascade Mall shooting, that game will not be completed until 5:30 p.m. Monday.

If the Tigers (6-2, 4-2) win Monday’s game, they will receive the No. 3 seed out of the 2A NWC, and Blaine would claim the league’s fourth and final berth to the bi-district playoffs and face Liberty (8-0), the top seed from the southern leagues (Kingco, Wesco and Cascade), in a 7 p.m. winner-to-state game Friday at Liberty.

If Lakewood (3-5, 3-3) wins Monday’s game, the Borderites, Cougars and Tigers would all have 4-3 league records, including a win and a loss in games against each other, meaning a three-way tie for the third and fourth seeds. A Kansas Tiebreaker would have to be used to determine which two teams would move on to the bi-district playoffs Tuesday at a time and site to be determined. The third seed would play at Archbishop Murphy (9-0), while the fourth would play at Liberty on Saturday.

Here’s a look at what other playoff-bound Whatcom County teams can expect next week:

▪ As Wesco 3A North Division champion, Squalicum (9-0) received the Wesco’s No. 2 seed to the 3A quad-district playoffs and will host Metro No. 5 seed Rainier Beach (7-2) at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Civic Stadium. The winner receives the Northwest District’s No. 2 seed to state and will host the District 3 No. 4 seed (the KingCo No. 3 seed or Bonney Lake) in the first round of the state playoffs Nov. 11 or 12.

▪ As runner-up in the 3A Wesco North, Ferndale (8-1) received the Wesco’s No. 4 seed to the 3A quad-district playoffs and will host South Sound Conference No. 3 seed Capital (6-3) at 4 p.m. Saturday at Civic Stadium. The winner receives the Northwest District’s No. 4 seed to state and will travel to face the District 2 No. 1 seed (Wesco No. 7 or O’Dea) in the first round of the state playoffs Nov. 11 or 12.

▪ As the 2A NWC champion, Lynden (8-1) will host the No. 4 seed from the southern leagues, Granite Falls (4-5), in the 2A bi-district playoffs at 7 p.m. Saturday at Civic Stadium. If Lynden and South No. 1 seed Liberty win their bi-district playoff games, the district would use its RPI system to break the tie for seeding to state. Liberty had a higher RPI before Week 9 games (1.0497 to 0.9800), and would likely get the top seed to state, giving Lynden the No. 2 seed, which would mean it would host the District 4 No. 3 seed Nov. 11 or 12. If the Lions were to get the top seed out of the bi-district, they would host the District 3 No. 4 seed in the first round of state.

▪ As the 1A NWC champion, Mount Baker (9-0) will host the No. 2 seed from Cascade Conference, Sultan (6-3), in the 1A Northwest District playoffs, at 4:30 p.m. Friday at Civic Stadium. If King’s wins its playoff game against either Meridian or Nooksack Valley, the winner of the Sultan-Mount Baker game would get the district’s No. 2 seed to state and would travel to face the District 3 No. 1 seed in the first round of the state playoffs Nov. 11 or 12. If King’s loses, the Mountaineers or the Turks would get the district’s top seed and would host the District 4 No. 3 seed in the first round of state.

▪ By winning the coin flip over Neah Bay Friday, Lummi received the top seed out of District 1/3 and gets to avoid the first round of the quad-district playoffs. The Blackhawks next host Washington School for the Deaf, Rainier Christian or Quilcene Nov. 11 or 12 for the right to move on to the 1B state quarterfinals.

David Rasbach

Lynden reserves get their reward

On a night where the Lynden football team led 33-0 at halftime, coach Curt Kramme got a chance to reward some of his backup players with playing time in a 54-0 win over Sehome on Friday at Civic Stadium.

The third and fourth quarters featured multiple substitutes, including sophomore Eric Martin-Mann, who scored on a 13-yard run.

In the fourth quarter, sophomore quarterback Elijah VanderHaak found sophomore Carson Bode on a 29-yard touchdown pass.

“It’s great for our program,” Kramme said. “The backup guys are out there busting their butts Monday through Thursday, getting us ready for Friday, and I just really enjoy getting to see them have a chance to play under the lights on Friday night.”

Tyler Urke

Bass, Barbo producing for Mount Baker

Mount Baker sophomore Kaleb Bass is already Whatcom County’s most efficient passer.

Bass needs 14 yards for a 1,000-yard passing season for the Mountaineers – six passers came into Week 9 with more than 1,000 – but has thrown only 75 passes. He has completed 46, including four to junior Thomas Barbo for 56 yards in unbeaten Baker’s 49-7 win over Meridian on Friday.

Bass has been intercepted only twice and has thrown for 10 touchdowns. Barbo has provided major support with 21 catches for 433 yards and six touchdowns, although 1,000-yard running backs Jed Schleimer and Carson Engholm have overshadowed the talented Barbo, who also plays defense well.

Michelle Nolan

Trojans’ pass game continues to develop

Meridian is developing a talented target in junior T.J. Dykstra, who caught seven passes for 101 yards and now has 34 catches for 511 yards and five touchdowns.

Fellow junior Simon Burkett was frustrated by four Baker interceptions, but he, too, shows promise with 137 completions in 250 throws for 1,793 yards and 14 touchdowns.

Michelle Nolan

Kicker impresses with his toughness

It takes more than a school-record 48-yard field goal to impress former Blaine Mayor John Liebert.

When Kyle Sentkowski’s field goal try for Blaine on the opening play of the fourth quarter was blocked, Liebert said he couldn’t have been more impressed by the senior kicking/punting specialist’s tackle to prevent a possible touchdown by fleet Jacob Zamora, who recovered the ball and tried to advance it.

“I told (Sentkowski) that was a great play,” said Liebert, who worked with four Blaine head coaches as an assistant and still spends time on the sideline. “He showed a lot of guts.”

Zamora had already scored on touchdown catch-and-run plays of 77 and 32 yards by Hunter Anderson.

Sentkowski’s field goals of 48 and 38 yards made him 8 for 10 this season. His recent 42-yarder had already set a Blaine record.

Michelle Nolan

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