The most meaningful Sehome-Bellingham football game of the 21st century became the most memorable comeback as well. But, believe it or not, the rivals must do it all over again this week in their first district 2A playoff game — and this one will be an elimination game.
On Friday night at Civic Stadium, the unprecedented 21st century sight of a high percentage of Sehome students mobbing their beloved team on the field proved how big their final Lake Division game was.
The Mariners erupted in joy in the final seconds of their big-play-spiced 54-27 win and their schoolmates soon smothered them with love after the Mariners wrapped up a share of their first league title since 2001.
Now, because the Red Raiders and Mariners finished No. 3 and No. 4 in the Ratings Performance Index among five Lake teams in seeding contention plus Liberty from King County, Sehome and Bellingham learned they must meet again on Friday, Oct. 26, at Civic.
Last-place Lakewood of the stronger Sky Division was assured the top seed against No. 8 Anacortes, resulting in the six remaining teams being seeded by RPI — 1 vs. 6, 2 vs. 5 and 3 vs. 4. Thus, it will be Bellingham vs. Sehome all over again.
Bellingham, which shared its first crown since 1987, and Mountlake Terrace made it a three-way tie for the championship in the new Lake Division of the Northwest Conference.
All three teams finished 4-1 in conference and 5-3 overall. Against Mountlake, Bellingham won and Sehome narrowly lost.
It’s no wonder that Sehome coach Kevin Beeson said, “We always preach to our kids, ‘Never look at the scoreboard.’ ”
That’s why the Mariners said they felt they had a lot more than a prayer of catching the Red Raiders even after Bellingham built a 21-0 advantage in the game’s first eight minutes.
“This was absolutely our best game defensively,” said linebacker/running back Dylan Roberts, who rushed for 173 yards on 21 carries and scored two touchdowns.
Receiving star Austin Roberts felt the same way.
“I didn’t think anything (when Sehome was down 21-0),” said Austin, who caught a 13-yard go-ahead touchdown pass from sophomore Jacob Kaepernick for a 28-27 lead when Felipe Arreola-Martinez kicked the extra point on the Mariners’ first series of the second half.
“I just knew our defense would keep pounding,” said Austin, who finished with 109 yards receiving on five catches. “We were waiting for that” (the go-ahead score).
Sehome shut out the Red Raiders in the second half while scoring twice more in the third quarter on a 12-yard pass from Kaepernick to Brett Meggyesy, who caught six passes for 101 yards, and a 13-yard run by Dawson Smith. The Mariners tacked on two scores in the final quarter on Dylan Roberts’ 43-yard run and Smith’s 10-yard gallop.
Kaepernick played his most stylish game, throwing for three touchdowns while completing 19 of 25 passes to seven different receivers for 329 yards. He did not suffer an interception until Bellingham’s Isiah Harrington and Issac Ninneman pilfered his final two passes of the game.
“Jacob was just amazing,” Dylan Roberts said.
“Jacob’s throws were really on the money,” Austin Roberts said.
As for Kaepernick, he said that because he had faith in his defense, “I didn’t feel any pressure at all.“
Bellingham’s three first-quarter touchdowns came on a game-opening 76-yard kickoff return by Harrington, a 63-yard dash by Jack Fields on the Red Raiders’ second play from scrimmage, and a 5-yard run by quarterback Morgan Cavalier after Harrington set up the score with a 40-yard dash.
The Raiders, however, suffered a major loss when Fields injured a hamstring on his score and could not return.
Smith scored Sehome’s first touchdown on a 1-yard plunge and Kaepernick pulled the Mariners within 21-14 on an 8-yard jump pass to Christian Knudtson. But Bellingham temporarily halted Sehome’s rally with a 17-yard pass from Cavalier to Spencer Lee to make it 27-14.
That bulge lasted only a few seconds, thanks to the shifty Dylan Roberts’ dazzling 62-yard run after a flip from Kaepernick and Roberts’ ensuing 5-yard scoring blast. That made it 27-21, the way it stood at halftime.
“We came out early on defense trying to do everyone else’s job,” Beeson said. “I just told the kids to stop trying to do too much and to trust each other.”
Defensive coordinator Jordan Chalfont said that’s exactly what happened.
“We went back to basics,” he said. “I’m proud of our guys for going up well against such a big, physical team.”
Sehome’s first six scoring drives ranged from 60 to 98 yards as the Mariners amassed 532 total yards. Bellingham finished with 304 yards rushing, with 112 by Elijah Kongshaug, but was held to 30 yards passing.
In other Friday games:
Squalicum 43, Oak Harbor 40: The Storm (7-1, 5-1) claimed the Wesco North 3A title and will play Wesco South champion Snohomish (6-2, 6-0) for the 3A championship Friday, Oct. 26, at Snohomish, said Squalicum coach Nick Lucey. The teams will play for the first and second seeds in Week Ten elimination games. Spencer Lloyd rushed for about 150 yards and scored the winning touchdown with about two minutes left, followed by a two-point conversion pass from Lloyd to Devante Powell. Ashton Toctocan sealed the win with an interception for the game’s only turnover. Powell rushed for more than 100 yards and a touchdown and returned a kickoff nearly 90 yards to score. Lloyd also threw a touchdown pass to tight end Collin McEachran of more than 30 yards.
Meridian 13, Mount Baker 9: The Trojans (6-2, 4-1) took the NWC 1A lead over Baker (5-3, 3-2) with one round remaining, but both teams are assured playoff spots in Week Ten. Meridian quarterback Dawson Logan sustained a wrist injury early in the third quarter and could not return. The Trojans scored in the first half on a 30-yard interception return by lineman Adam Kruzich and made it 13-0 on a short third-quarter touchdown run by Cole Roberts. Baker scored on a short pass from Kaleb Bass to Michael Kentner and a safety. Dylan Hickok, whose 20-yard run highlighted the drive on which Roberts scored, took over at quarterback when Logan was injured. His status was to be determined over the weekend.
Lynden Christian 41, Nooksack Valley 0: LC (6-2, 3-2) amassed 503 yards against the Pioneers (3-5, 0-5) and posted big numbers to clinch a playoff position: 19 for 26 passing for 298 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions by junior Trajen Schouten; 200 yards receiving for Tanner Feenstra; and 149 yards rushing on 19 carries by Levi Korthuis, including a 44-yard run for LC’s first score followed by a 5-yard run to make it 34-0 in the third quarter. Sam Faber caught scoring passes of 8 and 12 yards while Jalen Apol made an 11-yard touchdown grab and Feenstra snagged a 25-yard touchdown throw. Either Meridian, Baker or LC will have to play a third-place play-in game Oct. 30, but this week’s games, both Thursday, will determine whether a tiebreaker of some sort will be needed if there is a three-way title tie.
Ferndale 56, Stanwood 26: The Golden Eagles (3-5, 3-3) claimed the fourth playoff spot in Wesco North 3A and will play an elimination game Friday against Meadowdale (3-5, 3-3) at Edmonds Stadium for the seventh and final Wesco playoff position in Week 10. Coach Jamie Plenkovich estimated the Eagles amassed about 500 yards, including more than 200 for Gader Fox, who scored multiple touchdowns. Jacob Broselle returned a kickoff for a touchdown for the second consecutive game and also scored on a long run and finished with more than 100 yards. “I’m proud and impressed with how the kids have responded to adversity,” Plenkovich said. “Even when we were 1-5, I thought we had a chance to break through because we were having good practices.”
Lynden 38, Vancouver College 16: The NWC Sky Division 2A champion Lions (8-0, 4-0) claimed a non-league win as Eric Martin-Mann ran for 114 yards on 13 carries and a 38 yard touchdown and scored on an 88-yard pass-run play from James Marsh on the game’s second play. Brock Heppner rushed 11 times for 64 yards and scores of 2 and 8 yards, while Grant VanderYacht caught an 11-yard scoring pass from Marsh. Marko Samoukovic kicked a 29-yard field goal, his seventh, and went 5 for 5 on conversions —making him 29 for 29 overall. The Lions will have a bye in Week Nine and will play an elimination game in Week Ten against a Week Nine survivor of the first elimination round.
Blaine 34, Anacortes 8: The Borderites (4-4, 2-3) will play an elimination game Friday at Mountlake Terrace (5-3, 4-1) in the opening round of the 2A district playoffs, to go along with the other three elimination games: Cedarcrest vs. Liberty of King County, Lakewood vs. Anacortes, and Sehome vs. Bellingham. The four winners will play in Week Ten against the top four Sky Division teams. No other information was provided.
Naselle 54, Lummi 6: The Blackhawks (6-3 including two forfeit wins, 2-3) lost on the road and will finish the regular season at Darrington on Friday. Because they are in the stronger half of the Northwest B1 League, the Blackhawks are assured playoff participation. No other information was provided.
Thursday, Oct. 25
Lynden Christian at Meridian, 7 p.m.
Nooksack at Mount Baker, 7 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 26
Sehome vs. Bellingham at Civic Stadium (elimination game), 7 p.m.
Blaine at Mountlake Terrace (elimination game), 7 p.m.
Lynden, first-round playoff bye
Squalicum at Snohomish, 7 p.m.
Ferndale at Meadowdale (at Edmonds Stadium) (elimination game), 8 p.m.
Lummi at Darrington, 7 p.m.