This isn’t the Lummi football team of years past.
No longer will the Blackhawks defiantly fill the night air with pass after pass regardless of the elements. There’s no longer that need to challenge national scoring records.
Sure, Lummi can still put points on the board, but they don’t need to break 70 every time out.
The reason is simple: the Blackhawks can play a little defense, too. High-energy, attacking, lock-down defense.
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“We have a lot of energy now,” junior Hank Hoskins said. “The seniors want to get out there and really hit people. It’s their last season, so they want to go out with a big ol’ bang. So everybody’s trying to go their hardest.”
Their hardest has been pretty impressive through the first two rounds of the Class 1B State Playoffs. After blanking Lyle-Wishram in the first round last week, the Blackhawks defense came within two long, late-game scoring plays of pitching another shutout in the state quarterfinals on Friday, Nov. 21, as the Blackhawks beat Lopez Island 60-14.
The Blackhawks advance to the semifinals for a third straight year and likely will face rival Neah Bay — assuming it beats Lake Quinault/Wishkah Valley in its quarterfinal on Saturday, Nov. 22 — on either Friday or Saturday, Nov. 28-29, at the Tacoma Dome. The Red Devils have ended Lummi’s season in the state playoffs each of the past three years — the past two in the semifinals.
“We need to play better defense,” Hoskins said of the key to beating Neah Bay. “We kind of broke down our defense and didn’t fill the holes last time. We need to play hard on D.”
That’s something the Blackhawks have done the past two weeks. After limiting Lyle-Wishram to 10 yards of total offense last week, Lummi held Lopez to 81 yards through the first three quarters, and 40 of that came on one screen play.
Both Lobo touchdowns came long after the running clock had started and Lummi had pulled its starters.
“I told the guys, ‘Hey listen, the problem (Lopez has) is they don’t have a whole lot of subs, so they almost have to keep playing their first team,’” Lummi coach Jim Sandusky said. “I told them at halftime, ‘Listen I want you guys to go out and play a solid third quarter, and then I’m going to let the young guys play.’ I said, ‘It’ll still count as a shutout as far as we’re concerned, because we’re taking our No. 1 defense out.’”
And for the second straight week, that No. 1 defense was spectacular, though it got an assist Friday from Mother Nature, who saved some sideways rain for the first state playoff game to be played at Lummi Nation School after the installation of artificial turf three seasons ago.
Lopez mishandled the opening kickoff, and though the Lobos were able to corral the loose ball, it was a harbinger of things to come, as they would put the ball on the turf seven times during their first 17 touches of the game and 12 times total. Though Lummi pounced on only two fumbles, the Lobos’ troubles allowed the Blackhawks defense to pin its ears back and attack, keeping Lopez moving in the wrong direction. Jacob Roberts hightlighted Lummi’s early attacking style by recording a first-quarter safety.
“We’re playing with a little more ... controlled aggressiveness,” Sandusky said. “We’re not trying to go maniac, but just playing to the echo of the whistle. ... We started just trying to be aggressive and get eight guys to the football and eliminate lanes that they can run through. That’s something we’ve got to do against Neah Bay.”
That aggressive, hard-nosed mentality carried over to the other side of the ball, where the Blackhawks attempted a very un-Lummilike eight passes all night.
But they didn’t need any more, as they piled up 366 yards on the ground, averaging 10.5 yards on their 35 carries.
There wasn’t a whole lot of flash to Lummi’s offensive approach, as the weather basically reduced the Blackhawks to a series of different runs by whomever Lummi lined up behind center for the direct snap.
Austin Brockie led the way with his twisting style of running , gaining 148 yards on 14 carries, including a 3-yard touchdown run in the first quarter and a 56-yard score on a lateral in the fourth.
Hoskins’ more physical brand of running netted 130 yards on seven carries. He also scored four times, including Lummi’s first two TDs of the game from 13 and 5 yards out, before he added a 38-yard run 31 seconds before halftime and one of 59 yards 33 seconds into the second half to start the running clock.
Devin Cooper also had a nice game with his slashing style, gaining 65 yards on four carries and scoring on a 35-yard run.
“We’re all good runners, Hoskins said. “We just work as a team. Everybody does their job, and we have that really good chemistry working with each other.”
Lummi knows it will need more of that next week if it hopes to end a seven-game losing streak to the Red Devils dating back to 2011, that includes a pair of losses from earlier this year.
“We can’t make the mental mistakes,” Sandusky said of facing Neah Bay. “Physically, when we were where we were supposed to be, we were rock solid. We had some mental mistakes in our first game when we lost by 10 points. This last time when we played them, that was a tough one to swallow, because we had things set and we just had some mental breakdowns by two or three guys not doing their responsibility.”
Lum — Hank Hoskins 13 run (Devin Cooper run)
Lum — Safety
Lum — Hoskins 5 run (Hoskins pass from Austin Brockie)
Lum — Brockie 3 run (pass failed)
Lum — Cooper 35 run (pass failed)
Lum — Hoskins 38 run (Dino Williams pass from Brockie)
Lum — Hoskins 59 run (pass failed)
Lum — Trazil Lane 20 pass from Jonathan Casimir (Hoskins run)
Lop — Edwin Kramer 67 run (Rande Gruenwald run)
Lop — TJ Hobi 70 pass from Gruenwald (run failed)
Lum — Brockie 56 run (Stanford Hoskins run)
LumFirst downs717Rushing Att-yards25-9735-366Comp-Att-Int4-18-23-8-1Passing yards12386Penalties-yards4-195-29Fumbles-lost12-23-0
RUSHING — Lopez: Rande Gruenwald 12-18, Edwin Kramer 5-69, Ton Ahonen 1-(-17), Vinny Kramer 7-27. Lummi: Austin Brockie 14-148, Hank Hoskins 7-130, Devin Cooper 4-65, Jacob Roberts 1-(-5), Willie Jones 6-31, Jonathan Casimir 3-(-3).
PASSING — Lopez: Rande Gruenwald 3-15-2-110, Vinny Kramer 1-3-0-13. Lummi: Austin Brockie 1-4-1-47, Jonathan Casimir 2-4-0-39.
RECEIVING — Lopez: Vinny Kramer 2-40, Toni Ahonen 1-13, TJ Hobi 1-70. Lummi: Hank Hoskins 2-66, Trazil Land 1-20.