Lynden and Sedro-Woolley Part I was for the Northwest Conference crown. Part II is for the ultimate prize.
The NWC’s state prowess has become evident as the Class 2A State Playoffs have wound down. The conference’s four postseason seeds — Lynden, Sedro-Woolley, Squalicum and Burlington-Edison — each reached at least the quarterfinals.
Now after more than a month of postseason football, only the state’s best 2A teams remain. Both reside in Washington’s northwest corner, and this one’s brimming with intriguing storylines.
Will Sedro-Woolley coach Dave Ward get revenge on Lynden coach Curt Kramme, whose Lions beat Ward’s Archbishop Murphy Wildcats 17-16 in the 2011 Class 2A state title game?
Which absent player, Lynden’s Trent Postma or Sedro-Woolley’s Carter Crosby, from the team’s first matchup will make a larger impact this time around? Lastly, how will Lynden’s defense handle Sedro-Woolley’s run game, and how will the Cubs’ secondary slow down the Lions’ pass game?
Those questions will be answered when the NWC rivals meet at 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 6, at the Tacoma Dome.
Playing any team a second time in a season presents an interesting dynamic, Kramme said.
“You always go back and look at the film, but playing the same team you’re not certain if they will play you with the same strategy,” said the Lynden coach in a phone interview. “I tell the guys, it doesn’t matter what happened before. The only thing that matters is how well we play (this time).”
Few similarities exist between both clubs.
The Lions have won six of the last eight 2A state championships and will be playing for their fourth straight title. The Cubs, on the other hand, are playing in their first state-title game since 1983. Lynden is an established power. Sedro-Woolley is an upstart behind a hall of fame coach.
Both teams have contrasting offenses, too.
The Lions, due mostly to injuries and an all-star cast of receivers and quarterbacks, have relied heavily on the pass game. Lynden has regularly torched defensive backfields, throwing for 3,354 yards this season. Sedro-Woolley does most its damage on the ground. The Cubs have ran for 3,306 yards with only 995 pass yards.
But both styles have proved efficient. Lynden’s averaging 37.8 points per game, while Sedro-Woolley is averaging 36.5 points.
The Lions threw for a season-high 360 yards in the team’s first meeting back in Week 8 at Sedro-Woolley, and the Cubs ran for 373 yards. Lynden built a sizable lead before Sedro-Woolley’s late rally fell short, as the Lions walked away with a 33-30 win.
There’s little reason to believe the state championship shouldn’t again be a close one, but don’t expect to see the same style of game.
“The game is not going to be the same as it was,” Ward said in a phone interview. “We have gotten better since we played them. We can’t rely on the same plays. They are going to be well-prepared to stop certain things. We have to continue to be balanced on both the inside and outside run game and be able to throw the ball, so they respect our pass game.”
Lynden also has improved since Week 8, and the Lions’ biggest strides have come on defense.
In back-to-back games against Ferndale and Sedro-Woolley, Lynden yielded 665 rush yards. The Lions have only given up 418 ground yards in four postseason games.
The Cubs have several players, Mason Elms, Carter Crosby, Anthony Cann, to name a few, who score on any given play, and Kramme placed an emphasis on forcing Sedro-Woolley into long drives and not giving up big plays.
“If we get them down, we still have a chance on the next play,” Kramme said.
Rallying to the ball on defense, hitting hard and making sound tackles will surely be key for the Lions, while Sedro-Woolley will be looking to slow Lynden’s pass game.
With two great football minds going head-to-head, anything and everything should be expected Saturday afternoon.
“It will be a good game,” Kramme said. “We have players. They have some players. It’s what a state championship game is supposed to be, and I’m looking forward to it.”