High School Football

Mount Baker seeks 5th straight trip to state, faces familiar playoff foe

Mount Baker’s Carson Brandland, bottom, Carson Engholm, right, and Noah Rathjen tackle Nooksack Valley’s Tre Silva Sept. 23.
Mount Baker’s Carson Brandland, bottom, Carson Engholm, right, and Noah Rathjen tackle Nooksack Valley’s Tre Silva Sept. 23. eabell@bhamherald.com

Sultan at Mount Baker

The second-ranked Mount Baker football team looks to lock up its fifth straight trip to the 1A state playoffs. The Mountaineers meet Sultan in the 1A Northwest District playoffs for a second straight year.

Time: 4:30 p.m.

Site: Civic Stadium

Scouting the Turks: Sultan dropped its second straight, 25-7 to Granite Falls, last Friday, but still grabbed the Cascade Conference’s No. 2 seed to the 1A district playoffs. The Turks fell 48-7 to King’s a week earlier. The Turks’ other loss this season came in a forfeit to Archbishop Murphy. Sultan is seeking its first trip to state since 2001. The Turks played Mount Baker in the district playoffs a year ago, losing 56-7. Quarterback Tanner Belcher threw for 101 yards in the game, but he also threw two interceptions. Sultan managed only 53 yards on 23 rushing attempts, and was led by Andy Sam’s 23 yards on eight attempts.

Turk to watch: Running back Zack Zornes was held to negative rushing yardage in last year’s playoff game, but he caught two passes for 93 yards and scored the Turks’ only touchdown.

Sultan’s key to victory: The Turks must find a way to slow Mount Baker’s running game. In last year’s meeting, the Mountaineers piled up 428 yards on 39 carries (11.0 per attempt). Jed Schleimer ran for 270 yards and five TDs on 16 attempts, while Carson Engholm added 74 yards and a score on seven carries.

Scouting the Mountaineers: Second-ranked Mount Baker wrapped up a perfect regular season with a 49-7 victory over Meridian on Friday. The Mountaineers enter as the top seed out of the 1A NWC. Schleimer rushed for 105 yards and four touchdowns against Meridian, while Engholm had 73 yards and two scores. The duo has combined for 2,550 yards and 46 touchdowns this year while averaging nearly a first down (9.8 yards) per carry. Sophomore quarterback Kaleb Bass has provided good balance, passing for 986 yards and 10 TDs this season. The Mount Baker defense has been fairly stout, as well, limiting opponents to 3.0 yards per carry, though it has given up 202.8 passing yards per game.

Mountaineer to watch: Though he’s listed at 6-foot-5, 266 pounds, tight end, T.J. Bass is bigger and stronger than most offensive tackles and plays a huge role in the Mountaineers’ running success. He also has the ability to take over a game defensively, disrupting plays when he gets penetration.

Mount Baker’s key to victory: With the success the Mountaineers have had running this year and in last year’s meeting, there’s little secret what they’ll look to do. With both Schleimer and Engholm capable of piling up big numbers, it’s hard to see Mount Baker missing out on a fifth-straight trip to the 1A state playoffs.

Herald prediction: Mount Baker 55-7