Coaches are about as likely to say they have a favorite team from one year to the next as a parent is to say they have a favorite child – it just doesn’t happen.
But if you listen closely to what they say, sometimes you’ll get a hint or two.
Lynden football coach Curt Kramme likes the group of players he has this year. Though even he admits it might not be the most talented squad he’s had, he uses words like “heart,” “work ethic” and “togetherness” to describe it.
“Every time we step on the field, we say play for something else,” Lions senior Brody Weinheimer said. “That’s the biggest thing. … Just play for something other than yourself.”
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Lynden needed every bit of togetherness, toughness and determination it could muster Saturday against equally determined Black Hills and its slippery running back, Kyler Nygren. The Lions got exactly what they needed to emerge with a hard-fought 31-21 victory over the Wolves in the first round of the Class 2A state playoffs at Civic Stadium.
The Lions (10-1) move on to face Spokane West Valley in the state quarterfinals on the road.
“I couldn’t be prouder of these guys,” Kramme said. “That was a good football team we beat there today. They played hard, and they had an explosive player, and he got loose a couple times today, as I figured he probably would. I told our offense we needed to score 30 points today, and that’s what we did.”
The 30th and 31st points may have been the biggest of the game, as they came after Black Hills climbed back into the game with a 23-yard, one-handed touchdown grab by Noah Brewer to make the score 24-21 with 7:39 remaining.
The Lions’ response? A methodical dose of Jacob Hommes and Weinheimer runs that covered 68 yards in 10 plays and consumed 4 minutes, 15 seconds before Weinheimer scored his third touchdown of the game.
“A big part of it was depth,” Black Hills coach Kirk Stevens said. “They had some guys they could rotate through there. We had enough guys going two ways. That drive, they ate up a lot of clock, and we were just tired enough we couldn’t get that stop. I think that depth showed.”
Lynden definitely did its best to wear down the Wolves, as Hommes ran for 166 yards on 31 carries and Weinheimer compiled 102 yards on 22 attempts behind the blocking of Trey Labounty, Brennan Roebuck, Ed Andrews, Tanner Steele and Jacob Kettles.
“Our offensive line was getting good push the entire time,” Weinheimer said. “Every time I ran the ball, I was just thinking run as hard as you can. I kept telling myself, ‘Yeah you’re tired, but keep running.’ ”
The Wolves had a pretty good running game of their own with the speedy and elusive Nygren, who piled up 149 yards on 19 carries, including first-half touchdown runs of 50 and 37 yards.
“Both of them, he just kind of slipped out on the line of scrimmage,” Weinheimer said. “That was the big key was to stop him there. He was a heck of a runner and slippery.”
Lynden managed to sledgehammer two 2-yard scoring runs by Weinheimer around Nygren’s touchdown for a 14-14 halftime score.
Lynden backup kicker Isaiah Baseden, filling in for Nick Parris, who was injured on a failed 2-point conversion last week, booted a 29-yard field goal with 1:44 left in the third to break the tie and give the Lions a lead they would not relinquish.
“I knew all the kicks that I had done all year led up to it,” Baseden said. “I just had to do what I had done before.”
Lyn – Brody Weinheimer 2 run (Isaiah Baseden kick)
BH – Kyler Nygren 50 run (Drew Kimmel kick)
BH – Nygren 37 run (Kimmel kick)
Lyn – Weinheimer 2 run (Baseden kick)
Lyn – Baseden 29 FG
Lyn – Rylan Severson 24 pass from Jacob Hommes (Baseden kick)
BH – Noah Brewer 23 pass from Christian Williams (Kimmel kick)
Lyn – Weinheimer 1 run (Baseden kick)
RUSHING – Black Hills: Kyler Nygren 19-149, Christian Williams 8-(-7). Lynden: Brody Weinheimer 22-102, Jacob Hommes 31-166, James Marsh 4-20, Jacob Kettels 1-1.
PASSING – Black Hills: Christian Williams 8-17-0-80. Lynden: Jacob Hommes 8-18-2-99, Austin Anderson 0-1-0-0, James Marsh 1-1-0-6.
RECEIVING – Black Hills: Nate Kindell 3-23, Kyler Nygren 2-22, Jacob Briggs 1-2, Noah Brewer 1-23, Austin Hensley 1-5. Lynden: Brody Weinheimer 1-8, Rylan Severson 7-69, Aason Weidenaar 1-28.