High School Football

Blaine returns to postseason with 2A bi-district playoff at Liberty

Blaine running back Riley Fritsch turns the corner as he heads for the end zone to score a touchdown against Bellingham Sept. 23 in Blaine.
Blaine running back Riley Fritsch turns the corner as he heads for the end zone to score a touchdown against Bellingham Sept. 23 in Blaine. For The Bellingham Herald

Blaine at Liberty

The Blaine football team makes its first postseason appearance since 2013 on Friday, Nov. 4, when it travels to play eighth-ranked Liberty in the Class 2A bi-district playoffs.

Time: 7 p.m.

Site: Liberty High School

1103 FOOT Blaine (2)

Scouting the Borderites: Blaine suffered a 17-12 loss at Burlington-Edison Thursday and dropped to the No. 4 seed out of the 2A NWC. The Borderites make their first postseason appearance since 2013. Riley Fritsch rushed for 113 yards on 19 carries against Burlington and stands third in Whatcom County with 1,223 yards and 16 touchdowns this season. Quarterback Jalen Kortlever has helped make Blaine balanced offensively, passing for 1,466 yards and 15 TDs this year. His top target has been Whatcom County receiving leader Anthony Ball (756 yards, nine TDs).

Borderite to watch: Long snapper Braden Otto got a little early experience on the field at Liberty participating in the Rubio Long Snapping Camp last month. He was honored as one of the top participants from Washington, California, Oregon and Idaho. With Otto and kicker Kyle Sentkowski, who has eight field goals this season, Blaine should feel confident if the game comes down to a late field goal.

Blaine’s key to victory: The Borderites’ defense has stepped up the past three weeks, limiting their last three opponents to 24 points combined and 173.0 yards of total offense per game. Another strong performance will give the Borderites a shot at making it to state.

Scouting the Patriots: Eighth-ranked Liberty put the finishing touches on its regular season with a 51-0 victory over Sammamish on Oct. 21. Coming from a mostly 3A league, Liberty earned the top seed from the bi-district’s southern leagues and will receive the top seed to state if it wins, based on the bi-district’s RPI system. Though Liberty averaged 43.9 points per game, it was led by a defense that allowed more than 20 points only twice this season and has posted shutouts three of the last four games. Against Sammamish, Liberty got interceptions from Khalil Manning, Alex Olague and Mikey Walter.

Patriot to watch: Reily Larson led the Patriots with 95 yards on five carries, inclduing a 25-yard touchdown run in the win over Sammamish. Blaine must focus on making sure he doesn’t break off any runs for big chunks of yardage.

Liberty’s key to victory: Liberty’s defense forced four turnovers against Sammamish. The last thing Blaine needs is to give quarterback Austin Regis and the offense extra opportunities, as the Patriots have proven to be plenty capable against mostly Class 3A competition.

Herald prediction: Liberty 28-20

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