High School Football

His No. 1 focus following his record-breaking junior year wasn’t on running the ball

Mount Baker’s Jed Schleimer dives through Sultan defenders into the end zone for a touchdown in a Class 1A Northwest District playoff game Nov. 4 at Civic Stadium in Bellingham. Schleimer has been selected the All-Whatcom County Football Player of the Year.
Mount Baker’s Jed Schleimer dives through Sultan defenders into the end zone for a touchdown in a Class 1A Northwest District playoff game Nov. 4 at Civic Stadium in Bellingham. Schleimer has been selected the All-Whatcom County Football Player of the Year. eabell@bhamherald.com

How do you prepare to follow a record-setting junior season, in which you set your school’s season rushing record and break the state’s single-game yardage benchmark?

If you’re Mount Baker senior Jed Schleimer, you focus your attention on playing defense.

“Our mantra is if the other team doesn’t score points, they can’t win,” Schleimer said. “So I focused on defense.”

And for good reason – Schleimer was asked to take on more defensive responsibility in 2016. Rather than focusing on just playing linebacker, the Mountaineers asked Schleimer to take on more of a hybrid linebacker-safety role, allowing the defense to easily switch between 4-4 and 4-3 formations.

Mount Baker coach Ron Lepper said Schleimer’s speed, which makes him dangerous when he has a football in his hand on offense, made him a natural fit for the new assignment, and Schleimer said he enjoyed being a “Swiss Army Knife” for the unit.

“He’s got the ability to play defensive line pretty good, if we wanted to put him there,” Lepper said. “He helped us move other people around and put them in positions that made us better defensively.”

And Schleimer was still a threat on offense, rushing for a Whatcom County-high 1,904 yards and 36 touchdowns, breaking the Mount Baker career rushing and scoring records in the process, helping the Mountaineers advance to the Class 1A state quarterfinals for a fifth straight year and sharing Northwest Conference 1A Player of the Year honors with teammate T.J. Bass.

Not surprisingly, Schleimer also was selected The Bellingham Herald’s All-Whatcom County Football Player of the Year for the second straight year.

Schleimer’s adjustment on defense took time, Lepper said, as the senior had to learn his responsibilities in the secondary, which didn’t always mean attacking the ball carrier. But Lepper said as the season progressed, “He helped make us a lot more versatile.”

The defense wasn’t the only place Schleimer had to make a transition.

The Mountaineers entered the season missing half of the offensive line that helped Schleimer to his record-setting success as a junior. No longer could Schleimer and the Mount Baker offense expect their line to “knock guys 6 yards off the ball every time,” Lepper said.

“Heading into the season, we were a little scrupulous of how we would do,” Schleimer said. “But the guys stuck with it, worked hard and really came together.”

Schleimer ended up surpassing 100 rushing yards in 10 of 12 games this season and had two 200-yard games.

Adjusting to a retooled offensive line was far from the only change, though, as junior Carson Engholm developed a larger role in the running game, rushing for 1,347 yards and 19 touchdowns.

But Schleimer, who is the last in a long line of Schleimer brothers to play football for Mount Baker, obviously continued to make the most of his opportunities, averaging 9.5 yards per carry on 201 carries.

“Sure, it’s impressive he rushed for over 5,000 yards and all the touchdowns he scored the last four years, but the thing that really stands out to me is he averaged more than 9 yards per carry over his career,” Lepper said. “With the number of touches he had, that’s pretty impressive.”

Not bad for a guy focusing most of his attention on the other side of the ball during the offseason.

All-Whatcom County Football Players of the Year

2005: Jake Locker, Ferndale

2006: Chris Bolt, Lynden

2007: Sean Hurlbut, Meridian

2008: Casey Locker, Ferndale

2009: Jordan Hastings, Lynden

2010: Zach Slesk, Meridian

2011: Josh Kraght, Lynden

2012: Josh Kraght, Lynden

2013: Jaremy Martin, Lynden

2014: Bryce Sterk, Lynden

2015: Jed Schleimer, Mount Baker

2016: Jed Schleimer, Mount Baker

2016 All-Whatcom County football team

Player

School

Yr.

Pos.

Ed Andrews

Lynden

Sr.

OL

First-team All-Class 2A NWC at offensive line ... Helped Lynden advance to the Class 2A state semifinals ... Helped the Lions rush for 2,733 yards and 37 touchdowns.

Anthony Ball

Blaine

Sr.

WR

First-team All-Class 2A NWC at receiver ... Helped Blaine advance to the Class 2A bi-district playoffs ... Finished third in Whatcom County with 811 yards and nine receiving touchdowns on 55 receptions.

Thomas Barbo

Mount Baker

Jr.

DB

First-team All-1A NWC at defensive back ... Helped Mount Baker advance to the Class 1A state quarterfinals ... Part of a defense that limited opponents to 17.9 points and 169.4 passing yards per game ... Also finished fifth in Whatcom County with 708 receiving yards and had nine TDs.

T.J. Bass

Mount Baker

Sr.

DL

Selected co-MVP of the 1A NWC ... Helped Mount Baker advance to the Class 1A state quarterfinals ... A man playing against boys who was often able to take over a game ... Helped the Mountaineers limit opponents to 3.3 yards per rush attempt.

Gage Bates

Lynden

Jr.

LB

First-team All-Class 2A NWC at linebacker ... Helped Lynden advance to the Class 2A state semifinals ... Led the Lions in tackles and helped them hold opponents to 19.2 points and 251.8 total yards per game.

Casey Bauman

Nooksack Valley

Jr.

QB

First-team All-1A NWC at quarterback ... Helped Nooksack reach a tiebreaker for the Class 1A Northwest District playoffs ... Passed for 2,568 yards and 25 touchdowns and rushed for 364 yards and six scores ... Also a standout in the secondary.

Davis Bode

Lynden

Sr.

DL

First-team All-Class 2A NWC at tight end ... Helped Lynden advance to the Class 2A state semifinals ... Part of a larger-than-normal defensive line for the Lions that helped hold opponents to 3.8 yards per rush attempt ... Also played along the offensive line and at tight end.

Free Borsey

Lummi

Sr.

DB

First-team All-NWFL 1B at defensive back and receiver ... Helped Lummi reach the Class 1B state semifinals ... Played a variety of roles for a Blackhawks defense that limited opponents to 16.2 points per game ... Rushed for 448 yards and nine TDs, passed for 757 yards and seven TDs and had 415 yards and six receiving TDs ... Also had two return TDs.

Raven Borsey

Lummi

Sr.

Util.

First-team All-NWFL 1B at running back and defensive back ... Finished third in Class 1B Player of the Year voting ... Helped Lummi reach the Class 1B state semifinals ... Played a number of roles for Lummi on defense and was a standout on offense ... Caught 19 passes for 414 yards and five TDs, rushed for 709 yards and 12 TDs and had five return touchdowns.

Ben Broselle

Ferndale

Sr.

LB

First-team All-3A Wesco North at linebacker and running back ... Helped Ferndale advance to the Class 3A state playoffs ... A physical leader in the middle for the Golden Eagles, helping them limit opponents to 18.5 points and 243.2 total yards per game ... Also rushed for 1,295 yards and 19 TDs and had 491 yards and five receiving TDs.

Simon Burkett

Meridian

Jr.

DB

First-team All-1A NWC at defensive back and quarterback ... Helped Meridian advance to the Class 1A state quarterfinals ... Part of a Meridian secondary that held King’s to 124 passing yards and intercepted two passes in the Class 1A Northwest District playoffs.

Jake Burns

Squalicum

Sr.

LB

First-team All-3A Wesco North at linebacker and tight end ... Helped Squalicum reach the first round of the Class 3A state playoffs ... A physical presence for the Storm in the middle, helping limit opponents to 21.1 points and 226.9 total yards per game.

Tyson Cline

Lynden Christian

Sr.

DB

First-team All-1A NWC at defensive back and receiver ... Part of a secondary that allowed just 131.7 yards per game through the air ... Also had 393 yards and one TD receiving.

Landon DeBruin

Lynden

Sr.

DB

First-team All-Class 2A NWC at defensive back ... Helped Lynden advance to the Class 2A state semifinals ... Part of an improved Lynden defense that limited opponents to 19.2 points and 130.5 passing yards per game ... Also had 384 yards and five receiving TDs.

George De Jong

Lynden Christian

Jr.

DL

First-team All-1A NWC at defensive line and offensive line ... Should be a big part of the Lyncs’ hopes to turn things around in 2017.

TJ Dykstra

Meridian

Jr.

WR

First-team All-1A NWC at receiver ... Helped Meridian advance to the Class 1A state quarterfinals ... Finished fourth in Whatcom County with 792 receiving yards and seven TDs on 55 receptions.

Carson Engholm

Mount Baker

Jr.

RB

First-team All-1A NWC at running back and defensive back ... Helped Mount Baker advance to the Class 1A state quarterfinals ... Finished fourth in Whatcom County with 1,347 yards and 19 touchdowns on 155 carries (8.7 average).

Riley Fritsch

Blaine

Sr.

RB

First-team All-Class 2A NWC at running back ... Helped Blaine advance to the Class 2A bi-district playoffs ... Finished fifth in Whatcom County with 1,343 yards and 18 touchdowns on 236 carries (5.7 average).

James Hinson

Ferndale

Jr.

DB

First-team All-3A Wesco North at defensive back and quarterback ... Helped Ferndale advance to the Class 3A state playoffs ... Part of a Ferndale defense that limited opponents to 18.5 points and 94.6 passing yards per game ... Also passed for 1,125 yards and 17 TDs.

Jacob Hommes

Lynden

Sr.

QB

First-team All-Class 2A NWC at quarterback ... Helped Lynden advance to the Class 2A state semifinals ... Finished third in Whatcom County with 1,814 passing yards and 23 touchdowns ... Also was second in the county with 1,471 yards and 20 rushing touchdowns.

Kollin Johnson

Squalicum

Jr.

OL

First-team All-3A Wesco North at offensive line ... Helped Squalicum reach the first round of the Class 3A state playoffs ... Opened holes for a rushing game that averaged 7.3 yards per game and scored 37 touchdowns.

Trazil Lane

Lummi

Sr.

WR

First-team All-NWFL 1B at receiver ... Helped Lummi reach the Class 1B state semifinals ... Led the Blackhawks with 811 yards and 12 receiving TDs on 20 catches ... Also had two return TDs.

Winterhawk Leighton

Ferndale

Sr.

DL

First-team All-3A Wesco North at defensive line and offensive line ... Helped Ferndale advance to the Class 3A state playoffs ... A dominating force on both lines ... Helped the Golden Eagles hold opponents to 4.6 yards per rush attempt while averaging 8.4.

Andrew Logan

Meridian

Sr.

TE

First-team All-1A NWC at tight end and defensive line ... Helped Meridian advance to the Class 1A state quarterfinals ... Caught 37 passes for 479 yards and five touchdowns.

Damek Mitchell

Squalicum

Sr.

WR

First-team All-3A Wesco North at receiver ... Helped Squalicum reach the first round of the Class 3A state playoffs ... Led Whatcom County with 870 receiving yards and eight touchdowns on 48 receptions.

Ben Peterson

Squalicum

Sr.

Util.

First-team All-3A Wesco North at receiver, defensive back and return specialist ... Helped Squalicum reach the first round of the Class 3A state playoffs ... Accepted an appointment to the U.S. Air Force Academy and will play football there next fall ... Rushed for 568 yards and 12 touchdowns, passed for 182 yards and three TDs, had 436 yards and six receiving TDs, had six return touchdowns and kicked two field goals and 38 extra points.

Jarred Philips

Blaine

Sr.

OL

First-team All-Class 2A NWC at offensive line ... Helped Blaine advance to the Class 2A bi-district playoffs ... Opened holes for a ground game that rushed for 1,559 yards and 22 touchdowns.

Justice Powell

Ferndale

Sr.

DB

First-team All-3A Wesco North at defensive back ... Helped Ferndale advance to the Class 3A state playoffs ... Part of a Ferndale defense that limited opponents to 18.5 points and 94.6 passing yards per game ... Also rushed for 964 yards and 13 TDs and had 209 yards and four receiving TDs.

Manny Sabalza

Meridian

Jr.

OL

First-team All-1A NWC at offensive line and linebacker ... Helped Meridian advance to the Class 1A state quarterfinals ... Helped the Trojans rush for 2,149 yards and 29 touchdowns.

Porter Schmidt

Blaine

Jr.

DL

First-team All-Class 2A NWC at defensive line ... Helped Blaine advance to the Class 2A bi-district playoffs ... Part of an improved Borderite defensive group that limited opponents to 4.5 yards per rush attempt.

Cole Semu

Ferndale

Jr.

RB

Helped Ferndale advance to the Class 3A state playoffs ... Rushed for 1,079 yards and 10 touchdowns on 136 carries (7.9 average).

Kyle Sentkowski

Blaine

Sr.

K/P

First-team All-Class 2A NWC at kicker and punter ... Helped Blaine advance to the Class 2A bi-district playoffs ... Led the county with nine field goals made and converted 31 extra-point attempts.

Rylan Severson

Lynden

Sr.

WR

First-team All-Class 2A NWC at receiver ... Helped Lynden advance to the Class 2A state semifinals ... Finished second in Whatcom County with 814 receiving yards and 11 TDs on 60 receptions.

Triston Smith

Squalicum

Jr.

RB

First-team All-3A Wesco North at running back ... Helped Squalicum reach the first round of the Class 3A state playoffs ... Finished third in Whatcom County with 1,418 yards and 19 touchdowns on 126 attempts (11.3 average).

Tanner Steele

Lynden

Sr.

OL

First-team All-Class 2A NWC at offensive line and defensive line ... Helped Lynden advance to the Class 2A state semifinals ... A physical presence on both sides of the line who helped the Lions rush for 2,733 yards and 37 touchdowns.

Maxwell Tolman

Mount Baker

Sr.

OL

First-team All-1A NWC at offensive line and defensive line ... Helped Mount Baker advance to the Class 1A state quarterfinals ... Opened holes for two 1,000-yard backs and a ground game that averaged 8.1 yards per attempt and scored 61 touchdowns.

Mikhail Varetsky

Ferndale

Jr.

OL

First-team All-3A Wesco North at offensive line and defensive line ... Helped Ferndale advance to the Class 3A state playoffs ... Opened holes for two 1,000-yard rushers and helped the team average 8.4 yards per attempt and rush for 44 touchdowns.

Kirk Veldman

Nooksack Valley

Jr.

DL

First-team All-1A NWC at defensive line and offensive line ... Helped Nooksack reach a tiebreaker for the Class 1A Northwest District playoffs ... Part of a strong group that helped the Pioneers bounce back from a one-win season.

Kyle Veldman

Nooksack Valley

Jr.

LB

First-team All-1A NWC at linebacker and receiver ... Helped Nooksack reach a tiebreaker for the Class 1A Northwest District playoffs ... On offense, had 611 yards and three receiving TDs.

Jack Wendling

Squalicum

Sr.

LB

First-team All-3A Wesco North at linebacker ... Helped Squalicum reach the first round of the Class 3A state playoffs ... A physical presence for the Storm in the middle, helping limit opponents to 21.1 points and 226.9 total yards per game.

Luke Winter

Nooksack Valley

Jr.

DL

First-team All-1A NWC at defensive line, offensive line and punter ... Helped Nooksack reach a tiebreaker for the Class 1A Northwest District playoffs ... Part of a strong group that helped the Pioneers bounce back from a one-win season.

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