Anyone who witnessed Mount Baker’s 41-28 Class 1A State Playoff opening-round win over Montesano last year knows what Jed Schleimer can bring to the running back spot.
Schleimer, as a sophomore, gashed Montesano’s defense for long runs time-after-time with a repertoire of power running and elusive moves. All said, he ripped off a career-high 191 yards on 20 carries to complement Liam Short, who carried 28 times for 213 yards.
Classic Mount Baker ground and pound.
“The first big run I had that game kind of got me going,” Schleimer said. “It was like, ‘Man, I can do this.’ Run after run, 20-yard gain, 15-yard gain, first down after first down I was like, ‘This is my game.’ I would like to have a lot more of those games this year, every game.”
Schleimer will certainly get his chance after Short graduated. Along with that opportunity, comes some lofty expectations.
Not only will Mount Baker lean on its junior to perform strongly again this fall, he has his last name to live up to.
Jed is the fourth Schleimer to carry the football at Mount Baker. Joe, Jim and Jake each had strong careers before Jed, but by all indications the junior is up for the challenge.
“It’s pretty cool,” said Schleimer of being able to carry on that family tradition. “Coach Lep(per) is expecting a lot out of me, because all three of my brothers who played running back were pretty good. ... Part of me has a lot of weight on my shoulders, but the other part of me, I feel like I can handle it.”
Schleimer will have help, as the Mountaineers will look to spread the carries around in their Wing-T, but he should get his chance to distinguish himself as one of the premier running backs in the Northwest Conference.
“Liam was the main guy last year,” Lepper said, “and Izaiah (Schwinden) before that and Levi Wigg and Jake Schleimer before that. Now Jed is kind of the main guy, but we have some other guys. Our goal is to find that mix.”
Top running backs to watch
1. Riley Fritsch, Blaine
Fritsch is the Northwest Conference’s leading returning rusher after compiling 1,407 yards and 16 touchdowns last fall. He has quick feet and an explosive burst, which makes him very tough to tackle.
2. Nick Dritsas, Meridian
Coach Bob Ames was pleased with Dritsas’ offseason, and he brings a lot of speed to the Trojans’ backfield. After compiling 666 yards and seven TDs last fall, look for the senior to end his Meridian career in a big way.
3. Ben Broselle, Ferndale
It’s no secret the Golden Eagles love to run the ball, and only Sedro-Woolley’s Mason Elms (14.0) averaged more yards per carry with at least 20 touches than Broselle (9.4) did a year ago. With more carries, Broselle could do some serious damage.