The Lynden football team is alive.
After improbably making it in to the Class 2A bi-district playoffs on their RPI ranking, the Lions’ defense dominated on the road against 2A NWC foe Sedro-Woolley, defeating the familiar the Cubs 28-7 Friday.
With the win, the underdog Lions move on to the state tournament, and the Cubs’ season is over. As the bi-district’s No. 3 seed, Lynden will travel to face the District 4 No. 2 seed in the first round of the 2A state playoffs next weekend.
The game was very different from the last time the two teams met. On Sept. 22, Sedro-Woolley defeated Lynden 34-20 in Lynden with an unstoppable running game, while the weather was still arguably summer. Tonight, with snow on the ground and the temperature hovering below 32 degrees, the Cubs were held scoreless until the final minutes.
“I’m so proud of these guys – unbelievably proud. It would’ve been so easy to give up, and these guys never did,” a jubilant Lynden coach Blake VanDalen said.
Junior quarterback James Marsh came up big for Lynden, rushing for the Lions’ first three touchdowns and passing for the last one. He also snagged two interceptions, one in the end zone for a touch back.
But the true star of the game was a new name, even to those following the team this season.
Junior Grant VanderYacht, who until just two weeks ago was on the JV squad, made an impact on both sides of the ball.
“He grew in the program, he started dominating in JV; we gave him a shot, and he had a great game,” VanDalen said.
VanderYacht had numerous big moments. He made a 36-yard reception on the sideline over the top of a Cubs cornerback. On the defensive side, he had two momentum-killing interceptions, including one in the end zone.
He added a couple of highlight-reel catches later, including one for a touchdown.
Turning point of the game
With the score 7-0 late in the first quarter, a big Lynden hit created a fumble, that Lynden recovered.
Marsh fired the 36-yard pass to VanderYacht before running it in for a touchdown to put the Lions ahead by two scores at the half.
Unsung hero of the game
The Lions’ defensive line looked explosive. It penetrated the backfield of the run-heavy Cubs at will, recording six tackles for a loss.
VanDalen gave credit to the defensive coordinator and line coach for the strong play.