Mount Baker throughout the regular season and postseason established itself as a power running team with a stingy defense.
At the heart of it all was senior running back and linebacker Liam Short, who has been selected Class 1A All-Northwest Conference Most Valuable Player when the all-league teams were released earlier this week.
Short averaged 7.3 yards per carry and amassed 1,346 yards and 15 touchdowns. He also played a pivotal role on the Mountaineers’ defense, establishing himself as one of Mount Baker’s top run stoppers.
Although Short was selected MVP, he was one of the many 1A players who earned first-team recognition on both sides of the ball.
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Eight different two-way players earned both offensive and defensive first-team selections. Offensive and defensive linemen Terrel Brown (Lynden Christian), Paul Lebedev (Mount Baker), Blake Carson (Meridian) and Lathan Halaapiapi (Nooksack Valley) were among those.
Meridian running back and defensive back Nick Dritsas and tight end and linebacker Kyle Young were first-team choices on both sides of the ball, as were Nooksack Valley receiver and linebacker Willy Kingma and quarterback and defensive back Tanner Myhre.
Young led the Trojans with 566 receiving yards and seven touchdown on 27 receptions, and Dritsas ran for a team-high 666 yards and seven touchdowns on 130 carries.
Myhre completed 192 of 302 passes for 2,395 yards and 22 touchdowns, and he also ran for 742 yards and 11 TDs. Kingma proved to be Myhre’s favorite target in the Pioneers’ offense, catching a team-best 49 passes for 633 yards and six touchdowns.
Besides Short and Lebedev, other first-team selections from the NWC champion Mountaineers were offensive lineman Chad Cohn, linebacker Kolten Zender and defensive back Ruvim Tikhonov. Coach Ron Lepper earned Coach of the Year, and Tom Horsmon was chosen Assistant Coach of the Year.
Other Lynden Christian first-team selections were offensive lineman Koy Sterk, wide receiver Alex Vander Velden, running back Jordan Jansen, kicker Cody Fransen, linebacker Blake Browning and defensive back Kaden Bratt.
Jansen finished with 725 rush yards and 10 touchdowns on 144 carries, while Vander Velden recorded 443 receiving yards and seven TDs on 26 receptions.
Other Nooksack Valley first-teamers were receiver Josh Gimmaka, who recorded 492 yards and seven TDs on 38 catches and punter Brady Wood.
Class 1A All-Northwest Conference Football Team
Most Valuable Player: Liam Short, Mount Baker
Coach of the Year: Ron Lepper, Mount Baker
Assistant Coach of the Year: Tom Horsmon, Mount Baker
Offensive line: Terrel Brown, Lynden Christian; Koy Sterk, Lynden Christian; Paul Lebedev, Mount Baker; Chad Cohn, Mount Baker; Blake Carson, Meridian; Lathan Halaapiapi, Nooksack Valley
Running back: Jordan Jansen, Lynden Christian; Nick Dritsas, Meridian
Tight end: Kyle Young, Meridian
Wide receiver: Alex Vander Velden, Lynden Christian; Josh Gimmaka, Nooksack Valley; Willy Kingma, Nooksack Valley
Quarterback: Tanner Myhre, Nooksack Valley
Kicker: Cody Fransen, Lynden Christian
Punter: Brady Wood, Nooksack Valley
Defensive line: Terrel Brown, Lynden Christian; Paul Lebedev, Mount Baker; Blake Carson, Meridian; Lathan Halaapiapi, Nooksack Valley
Linebackers: Blake Browning, Lynden Christian; Kolten Zender, Mount Baker; Kyle Young, Meridian; Willy Kingma, Nooksack Valley
Defensive backs: Kaden Bratt, Lynden Christian; Ruvim Tikhonov, Mount Baker; Nick Dritsas, Meridian; Tanner Myhre, Nooksack Valley
All-State Game nominations: Tanner Myhre, Nooksack Valley; Liam Short, Mount Baker; Blake Carson, Meridian; Lathan Halaapiapi, Nooksack Valley; Kyle Young, Meridian