Top 10: Best plays from 2018 high school football state championships
Trajan Schouten feels blessed to be in position to help Lynden Christian make a drive toward what could possibly be its best two-season football showing.
For that, the senior quarterback says he can thank seven graduated seniors as well as a raft of talented returnees.
“I do feel my leadership has improved,” said Schouten, a standout as a junior in his first varsity season while leading the Lyncs to a 10-3 records last year, a Northwest Conference 1A co-title with Meridian, the Class 1A state semifinals and its best season in 16 years. “A lot of that leadership is what I learned last year. Our seven seniors were a great example of what leadership should be.”
At 6-foot-2½ and 200 pounds, Schouten may earn a spot somewhere to play in college, but that isn’t foremost in his thinking.
“I’ll think about college after the season,” said the senior, whose grade-point average (3.8) is as good as his passing statistics. “Right now, I’m focused on what we’re doing at LC … I‘m very fortunate to be at LC now.”
Coach Dan Kaemingk, in his 25th season, has a well-earned reputation for keeping his players focused. He gets to know many of them early as a Lynden Middle School teacher.
“I didn’t start playing tackle football until seventh grade,” said Schouten.
Bryce Bouwman, now a reliable senior defensive back and wide receiver, and Schouten shared duties at quarterback for four years through their sophomore season on the junior varsity.
Bouwman also helps give the Lyncs admirable depth at quarterback, where the heir apparent is 6-4 junior Logan Dykstra.
The Lyncs are well stocked at almost every position, a luxury at a 1A school. But Schouten, as much as anyone, says he knows not to take anything for granted. He fully realizes how competitive the NWC’s four-team 1A league is.
The coaches of the four teams have a combined total of 115 years of head coaching experience in Whatcom County, which is often cited around the state for its remarkable 1A program depth.
Week 1 provided a fine example: Mount Baker, third last season, claimed a 21-14 win over 2018 2A finalist Lynden, and fourth-place Nooksack Valley fell 14-13 in overtime to 2A state qualifier Sehome.
“It’s a great league,” said Schouten, who did not lose a start last year until Newport’s 27-14 win in the state semifinals.
A shoulder injury kept him out of consecutive losses to Meridian and Mount Baker.
“I did a lot of work over the summer,” he said, not only weight lifting but physical therapy to help strengthen his shoulder. “I definitely do feel stronger.”
But he said the entire team “did a lot of work.”
This showed in LC’s 49-6 win over 2A Bellingham — a game in which the Red Raiders were very much in the running in the first half.
“I threw the longest pass of my career, but to the wrong guy,” Schouten said with a touch of irony, when asked how he responded so well to Andre Triplett’s 94-yard interception return, pulling the Red Raiders within 13-7 nearly four minutes into the second quarter.
But these experienced, depth-laden Lyncs were not to be discouraged. They immediately responded with a 16-play, 74-yard drive capped by Schouten’s touchdown pass to Cole Moorlag. The Lyncs gobbled up more than eight minutes and showing they are a lot more than Schouten’s passing arm, which produced 1,866 yards and 21 touchdowns last season.
Schouten finished 13 for 21 for 131 yards, including touchdown passes to Jackson Corkill and Zach Sipma.
Schouten talked about what an effective job the offensive line provided. It’s an experienced group — Will Faber, Erik Veening, Davis Gatterman and Kase Lautenbach are all seniors and Roman Meenk is a promising sophomore. Senior Luke Timmer has been contending with injuries.
Schouten said the Bellingham game taught the team “about how we needed to step up.”
Unfortunately, they’ll have to wait a week, as Friday’s game against Neah Bay was cancelled. LC will face what figure to be stiff tests at home against 2A Blaine Sept. 20 and against Mount Baker in a league opener Sept. 27.