In this 40th-anniversary season of Blaine’s only state football championship, the late Curt Kramme would not have been more pleased and humbled if he had been able to join his old teammates at halftime Friday.
There they were, men and women in their late 50s with precious memories of a special guy they played with and cheered for with the Borderites.
The 1978 state Class 1A champions were all bursting with pride, sporting orange jerseys with “Kramme” and “1” on the back. Yet, never again will “1” be worn by a Blaine football player after his number was retired as the current team remained on the field to help honor him before an overflow crowd.
Yes, even though the Borderites lost to unbeaten Lynden Christian 14-3, “It was a great night to be a Borderite,” as the announcer proclaimed with fitting enthusiasm. It was the third win for the much-improved Class 1A Lyncs (3-0) over a Class 2A Northwest Conference team.
To the younger half of Whatcom County fans, Kramme is remembered as a marvelous tactician whose Lynden teams won seven state titles — Kramme would never have wanted that phrase to be worded “who won seven state titles” — and went 248-61 in 26 years as head coach.
But to the Blaine graduates who played with him, he will forever be revered for his leadership and his character as well as his athletic ability. They showed they will never stop missing Kramme, who died of cancer on April 22, 2017, about three months after being inducted into the Washington State Football Coaches Hall of Fame.
“Curt was the kind of quarterback who very much knew what he was doing. You just couldn’t rattle him,” said Lynden Christian coach Dan Kaemingk, after being prompted to talk about an unforgettable day when he faced Blaine’s indomitable Kramme when Kaemingk was a sophomore quarterback in 1978.
“I (earlier that year) had a broken hand and I got a second opinion from a doctor to be allowed to play,” Kaemingk said. “I missed the bus and my mom drove me to the game. I was sent in during the fourth quarter and we drove for a touchdown. On the conversion, in the right (east side) corner on this field, I kept rolling and rolling and rolling and threw a (game-winning) two-point conversion. Then we got a pick.”
Kramme wasn’t fazed. In fact, that was the last time he played in a Blaine football loss. There were 10 wins to come, including 20-7 over Granger for the first state football title won by any Whatcom County team (playoffs began in 1973).
“That 14-12 loss to LC was the best thing to happen to us,” said Darryl Sharp, a linebacker/guard who led the Borderites in tackles after the team endured a 1-2 start. “With Curt leading us, we never lost again.”
Sharp also played a role in Kramme’s biggest “win” — “I was best man at Curt’s wedding,” he said.
Kramme’s widow, Wendi Lee Kramme, accepted a specially framed “No. 1” jersey as Curt’s mother Gayla, daughter Zoe and brother Pat were the family members able to join Wendi for the ceremony.
Kramme’s brother Bert — Pat recalled that Bert’s 37-yard field goal against Granger set a long-lasting 1A record for a title game — passed 31 days before Curt did. Pat treasured playing when Curt began his coaching career as a Blaine assistant in the 1980s.
“I sure appreciated how the (current) Blaine team stayed out for the ceremony,” Pat said, by way of thanking coach Jay Dodd, his players and staff and the entire school community.
One of Kramme’s other teammates, Greg Flint, expressed well what seeing No. 1 retired meant:
“Curt was the leader, of the Borderites and at Lynden, and the respect all the kids had for him … well, Curt walked the talk.”
In Friday’s battle, Blaine (2-1) became the first team to score on LC when Bryce Kamrath kicked a 24-yard field goal, capping a 65-yard, 14-play opening drive. The Lyncs, however, limited the Borderites to 133 more total yards the rest of the game.
Levi Korthuis rushed 26 times for a hard-earned 67 yards for LC, including a 5-yard second-quarter touchdown following a key 23-yard pass from Trajan Schouten to Tanner Feenstra. Blake DeRuyter added the first of two extra points.
Zach Sipma, a 6-foot-3, 230-pound sophomore, forced a Blaine fumble into the end zone in the final minute of the third quarter and Davis Gatterman fell on the ball to score the first touchdown of his life.
Sam Faber and Jude Veltkamp had interceptions for the Lyncs, whose pressure up front helped limit Blaine sophomore quarterback Will McKinney to 11 for 30 passing for 129 yards, including seven catches for 58 yards for Derek Machula.
Friday’s stars: Jacob Kaepernick, Sehome, completed 18 of 27 passes for 218 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. Watkiko Leighton, Ferndale, returned an interception more than 50 yards to set up the winning touchdown and scored on a pass. Cole Roberts, Meridian, rushed for 150 yards on only 10 carries and scored on 72- and 30-yard runs.
In other Friday games:
Sehome 42, Centralia 14 – The Mariners (1-2) received huge boosts from Jacob Kaepernick, who completed 18 of 27 passes for 218 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions, and Dylan Roberts, who rushed 15 times for 135 yards and two scores. Brett Meggysey caught seven passes for 91 yards and scored twice while Michael McLin proved a deep threat with two catches for 48 yards and one score. Dawson Smith was also productive with five rushes for 35 yards and one score in one of Sehome’s best non-league offensive performances on the road in years.
Bellingham 47, Sammamish 0 – The Red Raiders (1-2) rushed on all but one play and amassed 435 yards behind juniors Jack Fields (21 carries for 121 yards and three touchdowns) at fullback and Morgan Cavalier (9 for 101, two scores) at quarterback along with seniors Tim Edwards (10 for 96, one TD) and Towner Goodman (8 for 112, one TD) at running back. Cavalier scored on runs of 27 and 37 yards and Goodman tallied from 72 yards, while Eli Kongshaug kicked the final seven conversions. “We had all our offensive linemen back,” said coach Ted Flint, who cited linebacker Fields (tackles leader) and Connor McKay and Jackson Taylor (one interception each) for solid play.
Meridian 49, Mission (B.C.) 0 – Dawson Logan, a senior in his first year as starting quarterback, continued his progress for the host Trojans (2-1) with 9-for-18 passing for 188 yards, no interceptions and touchdowns of 27 yards to Dylan Hickok and 37 yards to Harlon Stuit. Cole Roberts averaged 15 yards per rush with 10 carries for 150 yards and scores of 72 and 30 yards as the Trojans scored 14 points in each of the first three quarters and held Mission to 57 total yards. Logan scored on a 6-yard run and Hickok tallied with a 12-yard interception return to go with four catches for 79 yards, while Dante Castaneda capped the win with a 26-yard scoring run, giving Meridian 278 yards on 29 rushes including 58 on three carries by Dominic Bash.
Mount Baker 38, Cascade 19 – In a game tied 13-all at the half, Mountaineers defenders Ayden Rodriguez (two interceptions), Mark Tikhonov (interception to set up first score), Adam Harrington, Colton Harkness and Jay Allen all proved dominant in the second half at home. Kaleb Bass threw scoring passes of more than 40 yards to Kobee Malone and Waylon Kentner while sophomore Toby Jefferson, in his first start, scored twice on the ground, and Bass and Jason Lee rushed for one score apiece. Running back Sam Barrett was out with an illness and Jefferson responded in his place as the Mounties (2-1) scored in every quarter.
Lynden 23, Lord Tweedsmuir (B.C.) 0 – The Lions (3-0) scored all their points in the first half including an 11-yard run by Eric Martin-Mann, a veteran running back in his first appearance following an injury. Brock Heppner scored on a fumble recovery and caught a 5-yard pass from James Marsh, who completed 5 of 10 passes for 51 yards. Steven DiLorenzo led the Lions in rushing with 14 carries for 69 yards and versatile two-way senior Trevin Melendez punted five times for 182 yards and a 36.4 average.
Ferndale 28, Marysville 16 – Watiko Leighton returned an interception more than 50 yards in the fourth quarter to the 5-yard line, setting up Bryan Ebe’s game-clinching touchdown run along with Daniel Stewart’s fourth conversion kick. Ebe scored the first touchdown for host Ferndale (1-2) on a run of more than 35 yards, Leighton caught a medium-range touchdown pass from Sequoyah Julius, and Gader Fox rushed for more than 100 yards and scored on a 5-yard run. Darius Washington blocked a punt, setting up Leighton’s scoring catch, and middle linebacker Uriah Guillory made a diving interception of a tipped pass.
Nooksack Valley 47, King’s 7 – The visiting Pioneers (3-0) received two touchdown passes and two touchdown runs from quarterback Austin O’Bryan, who threw a 76-yard pass to Evan Neitling for the first score and passed to Cole Eldridge for scores. Neitling suffered an apparent sprained ankle later in the opening quarter, and later Devin Lackey, Jordan Silva and Scout Whittern were credited with rushing touchdowns. Defensively, inside linebacker Cooper Clawson led the way while Tyler Rawls made an interception and Easton Zylstra was credited with a solid effort.
Marysville-Pilchuck 20, Squalicum 14 – The Storm dropped to 2-1. No other information was provided.
Friday, Sept. 21
Lynden Christian at Mount Baker, 7 p.m.
Meridian at Nooksack, 7 p.m.
Archbishop Murphy at Lynden, 7 p.m.
Blaine at Sehome (at Civic Stadium), 7 p.m.
Ferndale at Arlington, 7 p.m.
Bellingham at Cedarcrest, 7 p.m.
Lummi at Neah Bay, 5 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 22
Marysville-Getchell at Squalicum (at Civic Stadium), 7 p.m.