As if Zach Sipma weren’t intriguing enough — what with the 6-foot-3, 230-pound athlete’s roster listing as wide receiver/defensive lineman — the senior has added another dimension to fascinate Lynden Christian’s fans.
Sipma scored untouched early in the fourth quarter on a 19-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Trajan Schouten. Sipma then had the LC crowd roaring when he clinched LC’s 27-8 win over Mount Baker on Friday with a stunning 42-yard scoring sprint as a running back for the game‘s final score.
With less than six minutes remaining, the memorable play began as a huge pile on third-and-2 with Sipma lugging the leather. The play ended with the big guy bursting free to demonstrate just how devastating he could be.
“We’ve had this play (shifting him to running back) all season but I think I had carried one time coming into this game,” said the personable big guy, who used his unusual combination of size and speed to finish with four catches for 60 yards and three carries for 54 yards for 114 yards total offense on only seven touches.
“We were just trying to get a first down (and run out the clock),” he said of the first touchdown of his varsity career on the ground.
Instead of cheering what would have been a noteworthy first down, the sixth-ranked Lyncs (5-1 overall, 3-1 Northwest Conference Class 1A) could celebrate early while reversing a 24-8 win by second-ranked Mount Baker (6-1, 3-1) in the first round of league play three weeks earlier.
If the Lyncs and Mountaineers both win their final two league games, they would tie for the title for the second consecutive season.
“This had to be our best game,” LC coach Dan Kaemingk said, while recalling the origin of “Mustang” — the play on which Sipma joins the backfield.
“Coach (Jonathan) VanHulzen put that play (Sipma at running back) into our playbook last spring and I said, ‘That’s the best thing I’ve seen in a long time.’ ”
It’s admittedly supposed to be “only” a short-yardage play, since the Lyncs are blessed with talented senior runners Easton Stremler, Levi Korthuis and versatile Jackson Corkill, all of whom play nearly every meaningful snap both ways. Sipma does too, but until Friday it was mostly as a blocker and defender.
Stremler ran for 80 yards on 19 carries and scored LC’s first touchdown from the 2 in the opening quarter, following a 19-yard catch by Corkill on a fine sideline pass by Schouten. The series began from Baker’s 22 after an errant punt snap.
Korthuis used his speed and moves to get open over the middle in the third quarter and gave the Lyncs the lead for good at 13-8 with a 21-yard catch from Schouten, who completed 9 of 10 passes for 118 yards and two scores, giving him eight scoring passes and more than 1,000 yards for the season. A muffed punt helped set up the scoring opportunity for Korthuis.
Baker took an 8-7 lead with 3:49 left in the opening quarter after Davin Beason recovered a fumble at LC’s 17-yard line. Toby Jefferson scored from the 1 and added a two-point conversion run after a series of penalties put the ball on the 1-yard line.
The Lyncs, who amassed 296 yards, including 160 on the ground, turned in their top defensive effort. They limited the Mountaineers to 187 yards, including 68 on 18 carries by Jefferson and 109 yards on 7-for-19 passing by Mason Jacoby.
With Baker up 8-7 in the second quarter, Corkill made a crucial defensive play when he saved a touchdown by tackling Ayden Rodriguez on the 10-yard line after Rodriguez gained 62 yards on a pass from Jacoby. Two plays later, standout Lyncs defensive back Jude Veltkamp intercepted a pass in the end zone, making both his theft and Corkill’s rundown tackle two of the most meaningful plays of LC’s season.
From the point of Veltkamp’s interception with 2:53 left in the first half, Baker did not get past midfield the rest of the game.
Rodriguez and Jason Lee had interceptions for the Mountaineers, whose defense was unfortunate enough to see the Lyncs start their four scoring drives from Baker’s 22, 37, 45 and 50.
“This was two evenly matched teams playing such a clean game. We have so much respect for them,” Kaemingk said of Baker while praising the effort of his defense. “We both have respect for each other.”
Sipma echoed that thought, saying he “100 percent respected Baker.”
And now everyone’s going to have to have to respect Sipma in yet another way.
Friday’s other high school football games
Sedro-Woolley 14, Lynden 7: The NWC Sky Division loss to title hopeful Sedro-Woolley (6-1, 3-1) means the Lions (5-2, 3-1) must beat Blaine on Friday at Lynden to guarantee a Week 9 bye for the crossover round, which matches the bottom three finishers in the six-team Sky Division and the top two Lake Division finishers plus Liberty of King County.
The Sky Division is officially designated as the stronger group, and thus the Sky’s top three finishers have byes in Week 9.
Lynden’s Brock Heppner tied the game at 7-7 with a 2-yard touchdown in the second quarter. He finished with 62 yards on 15 carries and caught four passes for 48 yards for a 110-yard night.
Otherwise, the Cubs’ defense limited the Lions to their lowest offensive totals of the season. Sedro-Woolley held Lions rushing leader Steven DiLorenzo to 37 yards on 13 carries and 28 yards on four catches.
Eric Bode helped keep the Lions in the game with an interception on the 2-yard line
“Sedro executed a good game plan well and we made too many mistakes,” Lions coach Blake VanDalen said.
Squalicum 31, Stanwood 12: The Storm (5-2, 3-2) claimed a Wesco 3A North win and clinched a spot in the seeding crossover round for the top four finishers in the North and South.
The first three finishers will play each other in Week 9 to determine the top six seeds for the district playoffs in Week 10, in which only the winners will advance to the state 3A round of 16. The two fourth-place finishers will play a loser-out game in Week 9.
Defense was a highlight against Stanwood as Elliott Aslan made two interceptions and Garrett Jabbora had one while Reed Richardson recovered a fumble. Ben Schlenbaker ran twice for touchdowns and Dedrick Mitchell caught a touchdown pass from Mason Binning.
The Storm is on an offensive roll with three consecutive wins, including a 37-14 victory over Ferndale on Oct. 12. In that game, Storm coach Nick Lucey noted that Whatcom County rushing leader Schlenbaker ran for 281 yards on 27 carries including three touchdowns. Schlenbaker scored a fourth touchdown on an interception.
Cesar Vasquez caught a 60-yard scoring pass from Binning. Vasquez caught four passes for 105 yards and Binning completed 8 of 21 for 153 yards. Addison Shrock kicked a 23-yard field goal. Squalicum’s defensive highlights included interceptions by Kai Posey and Billy Scammell and a recovery by lineman Ben Paz after he forced a fumble.
Marysville-Pilchuck 42, Ferndale 14: Dylan Carson, one of the best runners in Northwest Washington, rushed for 269 yards and three touchdowns for the Tomahawks (7-0, 5-0), who were tied 14-all after the first quarter but wrapped up the win with a 21-point third quarter for the game’s final points.
Ferndale (3-4, 3-2) stands in fourth place and still can qualify for the Week 10 round of play-in games for the right to play in the state Round of 16.
Jacob Broselle led the Golden Eagles against Squalicum with 80 yards rushing and freshman Isaiah Carlson and sophomore Ryan Pelton combined for more than 100 in another example of potential.
Meridian 27, Nooksack 18: The Trojans (2-5, 2-2) clinched the third and final 1A crossover playoff position for regional play-in competition in Week 10 while rallying from an 18-14 halftime deficit against Nooksack (2-5, 0-4).
Senior quarterback Cam Webster, a first-year signal caller, completed 19 of 27 passes for 175 yards with no interceptions and a 7-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Johnson. Webster ran 26 times for 80 yards and scored three touchdowns, with two in the fourth quarter. Trent Martin rushed for 83 yards on 15 carries to help set up Webster’s two fourth-quarter touchdowns.
Meridian allowed touchdown runs by Nooksack’s Dane Winter for more than 40 yards and Scout Whittern for 59 yards before the Trojans could shut down the Pioneers in the second half.
Lakewood 34, Blaine 16: Zane Rector scored on a 15-yard pass from Will McKinney and McKinney ran for a 12-yard touchdown for the Borderites (1-6, 0-4) in what coach Jay Dodd felt was a competitive effort against Sky Division co-leader Lakewood (6-1, 3-1). Dodd said Oscar Caridad ran for more than 150 yards to surpass 700 for the season.
“It was a big step for us as far as improvement,” said Dodd, whose team is in its first season in the Sky Division. He said his team will play either Liberty or Sehome in an elimination game in Week 9.
“Our offensive line had its best night of the season,” Dodd said. “We’re excited about the improvement we’re showing.”
Mountlake Terrace 21, Bellingham 12: Quarterback Morgan Cavalier scored on a 60-yard run at the end of the first quarter and threw a touchdown pass to Connor McKay in the third quarter, but Mountlake Terrace (3-3, 1-1) scored the game’s final touchdown against the Red Raiders (1-5, 0-2) in a Lake Division game at Civic Stadium.
Bellingham will face Sehome on Friday at Civic Stadium. Sehome (4-2 and 2-0) played a non-league game Saturday against West Seattle.
WEEK 8 GAMES
Mount Baker at Meridian, 7 p.m.
Nooksack at Lynden Christian, 7 p.m.
Bellingham vs. Sehome at Civic Stadium, 7 p.m.
Blaine at Lynden, 7 p.m.
Stanwood at Ferndale, 7 p.m.
Lummi at Naselle, 5 p.m.
Oak Harbor vs. Squalicum at Civic Stadium, 7 p.m.