The sheer number of Lynden’s athletes stood out during the Lions’ 48-22 non-conference win over King’s Friday night, Sept. 5, in Lynden.
Between wideouts Jordan Wittenberg, Lucas Petersen and Scooter Hastings and running back Trent Postma, each one scored a touchdown of at least 40 yards.
But one major question heading into the season was who is going to play quarterback for the Lions? Sterling Somers earned the starting nod over Squalicum transfer Clark Hazlett, but both got their chance against Kings, and both impressed.
Somers, who was 7 of 9 for 167 yards and two touchdowns (and another rushing score), led the Lions on back-to-back touchdown drives to open the game.
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Hazlett, who finished 6 of 8 for 113 yards and one TD (and another one rushing), entered the game during Lynden’s third possession and led the team on another TD drive . Hazlett also played much of the fourth quarter and ran the offense well.
“Very pleased,” said Lions coach Curt Kramme of how efficient his offense was on opening night, “but I also know when I look at the film that there is going to be some stuff we’ve got to clean up. ... I think the sky is the limit for this team. We just have to keep getting better every week.”
Squalicum’s rushing attack shows diversity
Nobody really knew what to expect from first-year Squalicum coach Nick Lucey. His background as an offensive coordinator at Simon Frasor University made his debut even more enticing, and his Storm squad didn’t disappoint.
Especially on the ground.
While senior quarterback Christian Jorgensen finished 10 of 12 for 110 yards through the air, the Squalicum rushing attack was even more impressive. But more importantly, it was diverse.
Senior starting tailback Nick Manchester finished with 46 yards and two touchdowns on five carries — he hardly touched the field beyond the first quarter, and leading rusher Damek Mitchell touched the ball just three times, accumulating 69 yards and a score.
“I saw our guys playing hard,” Lucey said. “I heard pads popping, and we were aggressive.”
Jordan Campbell led the team with six carries totaling 32 yards and a score, offering yet another option for Squalicum out of the backfield.
And that’s where the Storm’s variety rushing the ball should open up throws down field for Jorgensen. Manchester and Campbell have the physicality to wear teams down, while Mitchell is the “Percy Harvin,” Lucey said, of his offense.
That platoon finished with 199 yards and five touchdowns on just 24 carries.
Pick your poison.
Pioneers’ defense slams the door
After a back-and-forth first half had Anacortes and Nooksack Valley locked up at 28, Pioneers coach Robb Myhre and his coaching staff decided to let loose senior defensive end Lathan Halaapiapi in the second.
Halaapiapi rewarded his coach’s decision by forcing hurried throws and hitting Anacortes quarterback Camden McLaughlin as he was throwing multiple times.
“Lathan didn’t get a lot of sacks, but he was very physical with their quarterback,” Myhre said after the game.
While Halaapiapi was putting pressure on the quarterback, the Pioneers secondary locked down Seahawks receivers.
“Our secondary is a proud group,” Myhre said. “The coaches made some good adjustments at halftime, and they listened.”
One key receiver the Pioneers neutralized was Anacortes’ Ty Johnson. Myhre said his Johnson’s 6-foot-2 height and athleticism created mismatches in the first half, when he had three catches for 104 yards.
But Nooksack Valley was able to key in and hold him without a catch in the second half.
The secondary’s alertness and heads-up play, combined with Halaapiapi and the defensive line rushing McLaughlin’s throws forced McLaughlin into 12 second-half incompletions. He finished the game 12 for 27 passing with just two completed passes in the second half.
The defensive success allowed Nooksack Valley’s offense to pull away in the second half, and gave the Pioneers a 49-35 win in their season opener.
Baker’s added wrinkle effective
Mount Baker didn’t have many highlights in its season-opening 35-7 loss to Sedro-Woolley, but it did have a really nice one.
Rarely do you see a 64-yard touchdown pass from Mount Baker, such as the fourth-quarter connection between quarterback Balyn Jacoby and receiver Ruvim Tikhonov.
But what the score line doesn’t show is that the play was set up because of Baker’s strength in the run game — even if it wasn’t working on Friday, Sept. 5, when he Mountaineers only had 53 rushing yards.
The play sounds complex — 35 cross block belly x-post —and it’s designed to confuse the defense.
When executed, it’s really quite simple.
Fake a hand off up the middle and find the receiver streaking up the field, hopefully all alone.
“It usually works out,” Jacoby said.
That statement couldn’t have been more true on Friday for the Mountaineers.
“The hardest part is catching it, because there’s nobody around,” Lepper said.
With this wrinkle in the offense, opponents best be careful when stacking the box against Baker.