Lynden senior James Marsh and junior Brock Heppner couldn’t ask for more help from their teammates — including each other.
Alternating with superb performances at both quarterback and wide receiver, they turned in rousing efforts as the Lions (9-0) qualified for the Class 2A state tournament with a 47-0 win over Blaine in the Northwest District elimination round of the football playoffs Friday at Civic Stadium.
“We feel we’ve earned the opportunity for a home game,” said Lions coach Blake VanDalen, referring to a select committee’s seeding meeting Sunday for the 16-team tournament, one of the state’ s six by class.
If the Lions receive one of the four No. 1 seeds, their first two games figure to be at home if they win their opener.
Marsh said he’s having so much fun also playing wide receiver and safety — pretty much new to him on the varsity level — as well as quarterback that he’s fine with Heppner also getting plenty of snaps under center.
“I just want to win and to stay on the field as much as possible,” said Marsh.
“I’ve watched James’ humble attitude,” Heppner said, explaining how the three-sport standout inspires him.
As for VanDalen, he still can’t quite believe his good fortune in having so much talent in his second season as head coach after many years serving as an assistant with the late, legendary Curt Kramme.
“Aren’t they just something special?” VanDalen asked about his quarterbacks. “They’re like coaches on the field. I’m so thankful for their selfless way of putting the team first.”
Lynden took a 38-0 halftime lead while scoring on every possession and did not punt for the third consecutive game. Nor did the Lions suffer a turnover.
Eric Martin-Mann opened the game with a 46-yard kickoff return and Marsh soon scored on a 25-yard run while picking his initial opening perfectly.
After Blaine’s spirited three-play goal line stand at the 1-yard line, junior Marko Samoukovic made it 10-0 with a 24-yard field goal. Marsh soon followed with a 21-yard interception return and he immediately threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Kobe Elsner.
Heppner made it 24-0 with a nifty 19-yard touchdown scramble.
At that point, senior Carson Bode’s interception set up Bode’s amazing 24-yard touchdown catch on a throw from Marsh, despite aggressive defensive coverage.
“Somehow the ball came into my hands (in a battle with the defender),” said Bode. “Then somehow I pinned the ball to the back of my legs (as he went down in the end zone).
“That was my first touchdown catch this year,” said Bode, who had three scores last season.
That wasn’t the only great catch of the night. Marsh soon followed with a one-handed grab in the end zone on a nifty throw from Heppner, not long after Elsner’s interception.
“I had a great view of that catch, and I can’t believe how Marsh caught that touchdown pass with one hand,” said Blaine coach Jay Dodd, shaking his head in amazement.
In all, Marsh caught four passes from Heppner for 95 yards and a touchdown, ran six times for 59 yards, completed four of five passes for 76 yards and two touchdowns, and made his interception return. Heppner ran 10 times for 65 yards and his score and completed 6 of 7 passes for 110 yards and a touchdown.
On Lynden’s first possession of the second half, Samoukovic didn’t hesitate to risk his perfect kicking season, now 35 for 35 on conversions and 7 for 7 on field goals, not counting a blocked kick at the end of the first half two weeks ago.
He booted a 38-yarder with plenty to spare, matching his longest official kick.
Lynden’s last score came on a 67-yard scamper by quick sophomore Caleb Wheeler early in the fourth quarter.
“I have to say what an amazing job coach Jay Dodd did this season,” VanDalen said of the Borderites, who finished 5-5 after going 1-9 last year. “It would have been easy to roll over last week (instead, Blaine rallied for a 28-10 win in an elimination game against Mountlake Terrace) after that earlier (40-0) loss to the same team.”
Despite Friday’s disappointment against a team with overwhelming talent, Dodd expressed pride.
“Just pride in our guys for the way we played in October and even tonight,” the 10th-year coach said of Blaine’s three-game winning streak. “The guys just kept wanting to improve.”
In the first half, the Lions amassed 321 total yards and limited the Borderites to 44 yards.
Friday’s stars (based on information received): James Marsh and Brock Heppner, Lynden, combined to produce 310 yards passing and running and five touchdowns in a 47-0 win over Blaine; Brett Meggysey, Sehome, caught six passes for 111 yards and set two school receiving records in a 37-9 win over Archbishop Murphy; Trajan Schouten and Levi Korthuis, Lynden Christian, had 169 yards passing and 122 yards rushing, respectively, in a 42-14 win over King’s; Dawson Logan, Meridian, produced a combined 236 yards and four touchdowns passing and receiving in a 59-8 win over South Whidbey as all four winners qualified for state (details in this roundup).
In other Friday games:
Sehome 37, Archbishop Murphy 9: The co-champion Mariners (7-3) became the only Lake Division team in the Northwest Conference to qualify for 2A state with a 37-9 win to eliminate Sky Division power Archbishop Murphy (4-3) in Everett, giving the Mariners their biggest win in many years. Senior wide receiver Brett Meggysey provided a special highlight with six catches for 111 yards, setting school records for receptions in a season (49) and career (82). It was likely the best defensive performance for the Mariners, from whom Jay Travier intercepted two passes and Austin Roberts and Timothy Malo stole one pass apiece, with Travier extending his school records to nine interceptions for the season and 15 for his career. Sophomore quarterback Jacob Kaepernick completed 15 of 28 passes for 241 yards and touchdown passes to Malo, Christian Knudtson and Michael McLin, who helped Kaepernick surpass 1,300 yards for the season. Dylan Roberts accounted for the other two scores while rushing for 87 yards on 18 carries. It was the fifth consecutive win for Sehome, which will learn its first-round opponent some time Sunday, like all the other playoff qualifiers from Whatcom County. Joining Lynden and Sehome at 2A state coming out of the Northwest District were Burlington-Edison, a 29-12 winner over Lakewood, and Liberty (8-2) of King County, a 31-28 victor over Sedro-Woolley.
Lynden Christian 42, King’s 14: The Lyncs (8-2) qualified for 1A state for the first time since 2007 as junior quarterback Trajan Schouten completed 15 of 22 passes for 169 yards, including a 25-yard touchdown pass to Zach Sipma to help LC take a 21-0 first-quarter lead. Easton Stremler scored the first touchdown with an 11-yard run and Jackson Corkill tallied the third score with a 68-yard sprint on the way to 100 yards on four carries, which also included a 35-yard sprint, to go with five catches for 44 yards in the senior’s most productive game. Levi Korthuis finished with 122 yards on 18 carries and scored the fourth and fifth touchdowns on runs of seven and one yards, respectively, to help the Lyncs take a 42-0 advantage after three quarters. Blake DeRuyter made good on all seven conversion kicks. The Lyncs’ solid defensive effort against Kings (4-6) included an interception by Bryce Bouwman and a fumble forced by Sipma and recovered by Dylan Kaemingk to set up early touchdowns. Corkill’s biggest game followed similar recent efforts by Tanner Feenstra (eight catches for 200 yards) and Jalen Apol (seven catches for 119 yards), showing the Lyncs have developed three big-play threats to go along with Schouten and Korthuis. The Lyncs have improved from 3-6 last year.
Meridian 59, South Whidbey 8: The 1A Northwest Conference co-champion Trojans (7-3) qualified for a return to state while amassing 321 yards and holding the Falcons to 36 in the first half, led by linebacker Dylan Hickok, while taking a 49-0 advantage. Senior quarterback Dawson Logan, running and passing only in the first half, gained 62 yards on seven carries and scored on 14- and 1-yard runs while completing 9 of 11 passes for 174 yards and scores of 21 yards for Kevin Galiano and 36 yards to Cameron Webster, who caught three passes for 91 yards. Logan has accounted for 29 touchdowns and more than 2,300 yards combined running and passing. Galiano, a junior who caught four passes for 54 yards, made what was likely his longest run with a 44-yard scamper on a reverse for the first touchdown. Senior defensive lineman Adam Kruzich then recovered a mishandled punt snap in the end zone for his second defensive touchdown in a three-game span and also blocked a punt. Cole Roberts, returning after an illness, made it 21-0 with a 17-yard scoring run and had 45 yards on six carries. Junior kicker Taylor Snook booted a 28-yard field goal and all eight conversions. Junior running back Trent Martin capped the win with a 31-yard touchdown dash.
Eastside Catholic 44, Ferndale 7: The Golden Eagles (4-6) saw a three-game win streaked snapped by the perennial 3A state title-contending Crusaders (9-1) in an elimination game. The hosts amassed 364 yards and limited Ferndale to 129, although the Eagles scored twice in the second half, including a touchdown by Jacob Broselle that ended the shutout in the third quarter.
Nooksack Valley 26, Stanwood 16: The 1A Pioneers (5-5) salvaged a .500 season with a non-league win over the 3A Spartans for Nooksack’s second consecutive victory. No other information was reported.
In Tuesday’s 1A district pigtail game: Mount Baker improved to 6-4 with a 61-0 win at Granite Falls, advancing the Mounties to a Saturday winner-to-state game against Bothell Cedar Park Christian (the game started too late for this story). The Mounties led 54-0 at halftime against Granite (2-8) thanks to Kaleb Bass’ three scoring passes, with a pair to Michael Kentner and one to Waylon Kentner. Sam Barrett and Jason Lee both rushed for more than 100 yards; Barrett scored once and Toby Jefferson ran for two touchdowns. Kobee Malone and Ayden Rodriguez also scored on runs.
In Saturday’s games:
Squalicum 53, Central Kitsap 13: The Storm (8-2) amassed 636 yards including 520 rushing against the Cougars (6-4) to qualify for 3A state with a plethora of big plays, as senior quarterback Spencer Lloyd rushed for 216 yards on 18 carries and scored four touchdowns and junior Devante Powell gained 141 yards on 14 carries and scored twice at Civic Stadium. The highlight was a double pass for a 58-yard touchdown from Lloyd to Dedrick Mitchell back to Lloyd for 58 yards and a tie-breaking touchdown and a 20-13 lead. The Storm scored the final 47 points after falling behind 13-6 in the first quarter. In the final period, freshman Ben Schlenbaker sprinted for a 65-yard touchdown and sophomore Steven Owens also showed off Squalicum’s future potential, when he broke free for a 75-yard touchdown. The Lloyd-Mitchell-Lloyd touchdown pass came on third and 13 from Squalicum’s 42 yard line midway through the second quarter.
Mount Baker 49, Bothell Cedar Park Christian 10: The Mountaineers (7-4) qualified for their seventh consecutive 1A state berth as Michael Kentner caught two touchdown passes from Kaleb Bass and scored a third touchdown with a fumble return. Waylon Kentner also caught a scoring pass from Bass while Kobee Malone ran for two touchdowns and the team’s leading rusher, Sam Barrett scored one TD to help Baker to a 35-3 halftime lead. The Mounties who shut out Granite Falls 61 Tuesday in a play-in game, likely set some sort of school record with 110 point in two games during the same week. Baker joined Meridian and Lynden Christian at state, giving the Northwest Conference three of the 16 1A berths. In their three state qualifying victories, the NWC teams combined to score 150 points and allowed only three in the first halves combined. Cedar Park kicked a field goal for the game’s first points.