Senior quarterback Casey Bauman had far more to be excited about than his 13 for 15 passing for 223 yards and two touchdowns in Nooksack Valley’s 45-6 season-opening non-league win over Blaine on Friday before a home crowd.
“It’s just unbelievable,” Bauman said of how well and how efficiently a relatively inexperienced Class 1A Nooksack squad (5-4 last year) performed against the 2A Borderites (6-4 last season). “Our linemen, the running backs, the receivers, the defense – I am so grateful for their effort.”
The only negative aspect was a first-quarter ankle injury to two-way senior starter Tre Silva, who scored the Pioneers’ first points with a safety and then scored on a 3-yard run before he was forced out. He is sidelined indefinitely.
“Better than I expected,” an enthusiastic Silva responded with a broad smile when asked about his substitutes’ performances when he walked onto the sideline on crutches in the third quarter.
NOOKSACK SHOWS DEPTH
The starters and top reserves played only through the first drive of the third quarter, capped by Evan Neitling’s 23-yard touchdown for his second score. Neitling, who started on defense, finished with a team-high 65 yards on seven carries.
Jordan Veening caught five passes for 72 yards and scores of 23 and 7 yards, the latter on a beautiful fade connection from Bauman in the left corner of the end zone.
Austin O’Bryan scored Nooksack’s other TD on a 16-yard run and finished with 38 yards on five carries. Junior Baylor Galley, in his first extensive varsity action, was effective in the defensive backfield and set up three scores with a 14-yard run and catches of 35 and 19 yards.
LINE RECEIVES PRAISE
“We have two returning linemen (in two-way standouts Kirk Veldman and Luke Winter) and our three new guys, Hayden Hester, Easton Zylstra and Colt Hickey, also played well,” Bauman said. “I can’t say enough about them.”
Blaine avoided a shutout when sophomore Oscar Caridad picked up all 73 yards on seven carries, capped by a 12-yard touchdown, on the Borderites’ final possession. Starting running back Jacob Westfall, a junior, picked up 54 yards on 12 carries against Nooksack’s first string.
FEW PIONEERS MISTAKES
“What really pleased me most was how few penalties we had plus no turnovers,” Nooksack coach Robb Myhre said. “We were very disciplined.”
New Blaine quarterback Cam Ellis had several promising moments with 6 for 15 passing for 65 yards but suffered interceptions by O’Bryan and Veening.