High School Football

Mount Baker looking to reach state for fourth straight season

Mount Baker lineman Paul Lebedev established himself as one of the premier football players in the conference last season, and he serves as one of Baker’s emotional leaders.
Mount Baker lineman Paul Lebedev established himself as one of the premier football players in the conference last season, and he serves as one of Baker’s emotional leaders. The Bellingham Herald

While most Whatcom County residents celebrated the Seattle Seahawks’ NFC Championship miracle come-from-behind win over the Packers last January, Mount Baker coach Ron Lepper felt for Green Bay.

More than two months had passed since the Mountaineers were left reeling from a numbing 29-28 Class 1A State Playoff quarterfinal overtime loss to Eatonville.

But watching the Packers’ collapse evoked a painful sting Lepper had witnessed first hand months prior.

“It didn’t really hit me to be honest with you until I watched the Seahawks-Packers game, and I knew exactly how the Packers felt,” Lepper said. “That was tough. That was tough right there, but that was last year.”

The past is in the past, and 2015 welcomes plenty of reasons for the Mountaineers to be optimistic, as Baker, which is ranked No. 8 to start the season, will look to reach the Class 1A State Playoffs for the fourth consecutive season.

Lepper doesn’t plan to deviate from the team’s physical, run-first style, even with the loss of lead back Liam Short.

Mount Baker brings back standout offensive linemen Paul Lebedev, Chad Cohn and Kolten Zender, senior starting quarterback Mason Bass returns and Jed Schleimer, who proved his potency last year running for 830 yards and nine TDs, is back for his junior season.

Joining Schleimer will be Jeremiah Cronk and Thomas Barbo, and they will need to produce if Baker hopes to get anywhere close to the 281.7 rush yards per game it averaged last fall.

“He’s probably going to be a little bit of the focal point coming into the season,” Lepper said of Schleimer. “What’s helped us in the last few years is we’ve had some success in spreading the ball around a bit.”

Defensivley, Baker brings back four starters, and Lepper will lean on players such as linemen Lebedev and Cohn and linebackers Zender and Schleimer.

Lebedev, who was a second-team all-state offensive lineman and a two-way all-NWC 1A first-teamer last year, is coming off a nasty knee injury, but Lepper said he seems ready to go.

One of Baker’s biggest question marks will be its secondary. It graduated all four starters, but Lepper is hoping Vadim Kotsyuba, Sam Stargell, William Pilat and Junior Camacho can fill the void.

“We just don’t want to beat ourselves,” Lepper said. “That is kind of our main goal give ourselves an opportunity and come fourth quarter not to beat ourselves and play our style of ball.”

Key numbers

5

Offensive starters from 2014 returning for Mount Baker in 2015.

4

Defensive starters from 2014 returning for Mount Baker in 2015.

6.7

Average yards per rush

for Mount Baker

last season.

32

Total pass completions by Mount Baker quarterbacks last year.

Players to watch

PAUL LEBEDEV

Mount Baker, Sr., OL/DL

Lebedev established himself as one of the premier football players in the conference last season, and he serves as one of Baker’s emotional leaders.

JED SCHLEIMER

Mount Baker, Jr., RB/LB

Schleimer finished with the seventh most yards in the NWC last year. Imagine his production as a featured back.

MASON BASS

Mount Baker, Sr., QB

Bass ran the offense like a well-oiled machine last fall. Expect him to evolve in his second year starting.

KOLTON ZENDER

Mount Baker, Sr., OL/LB

Zender is a two-way starter who can create big holes in the run game and stuff the run defensively.

Three keys to 2015

1. NO “I” IN TEAM

Lepper said his teams have been fortunate to strike up strong chemistry the past few seasons. If players are willing to play for their teammates rather than themselves, Lepper said that will go a long way in determining success.

2. GIVE YOURSELF A CHANCE

Mount Baker should be talented enough to compete in every game, but that won’t happen if the Mountaineers beat themselves. Lepper emphasized the importance of his team giving itself a chance late in games by not hurting itself.

3. HELP WANTED

Baker’s rushing attack was potent last year because of its line but also because it had three backs who could run the ball. Schleimer will get his yards, but the Mountaineers need a few others backs to emerge.

Projection

Mount Baker returns plenty from last year, and with the pieces in place, including a budding star in Schleimer, expect the Mountaineers to be a favorite in the NWC 1A race and be back in state come November.

2015 schedule

Date

Opponent

Time

Sept. 4

at Sedro-Woolley

7 p.m.

Sept. 11

Oroville

7 p.m.

Sept. 18

Cascade

7 p.m.

Sept. 25

Nooksack Valley*

7 p.m.

Oct. 2

at Meridian*

7 p.m.

Oct. 9

Lynden Christian*

7 p.m.

Oct. 16

at Nooksack Valley*

7 p.m.

Oct. 23

Meridian*

7 p.m.

Oct. 30

at Lynden Christian*

7 p.m.

*NWC 1A game

2015 Roster

No.

Player

Yr.

Ht.

Wt.

Pos.

4

Jed Schleimer

Jr.

6-2

196

RB/LB

5

Zandy Zender

So.

5-8

135

WR/DB

9

Carson Brandland

So.

5-10

154

QB/LB

10

Mason Bass

Sr.

6-0

175

QB/DB

11

Sergey Fandalyuk

Jr.

5-10

128

WR/DB

21

Jonathan Ehlers

Jr.

5-7

140

RB/DB

22

William Pilat

Jr.

5-5

131

WR/DB

24

Carson Engholm

So.

6-0

156

RB/DB

26

Junior Camacho

So.

5-8

149

RB/DB

31

Dillon Weaver

Jr.

5-7

154

WR/DB

32

Thomas Barbo

So.

6-2

184

RB/LB

41

Vadim Kotsyuba

Sr.

6-1

171

RB/DB

42

Jeremiah Cronk

Sr.

5-9

161

RB/LB

44

Chase Barter

So.

5-9

136

WR/DB

47

T. J. Bass

Jr.

6-4

236

TE/DL

51

Paul Lebedev

Sr.

6-0

217

OL/DL

52

Luke Steeves

So.

5-10

185

OL/DL

53

Michael Barton

Jr.

5-9

187

OL/LB

55

Noah Rathjen

Fr.

5-7

186

OL/LB

58

Kolton Zender

Sr.

5-9

204

OL/DL

59

Wyatt Marsing

Jr.

6-0

156

OL/DL

60

Eddie Whirley

Sr.

5-9

Sr.6

OL/DL

61

Will Hunter

Jr.

6-0

171

OL/LB

66

Gene Fleming

Jr.

6-0

196

OL/DL

67

Kyler Steeves

So.

5-10

160

OL/DL

73

Jordan Mitchell

Jr.

5-10

256

OL/DL

74

Cory Bergh

Sr.

5-9

206

OL/DL

75

Maxwell Tolman

Jr.

5-10

236

OL/DL

76

Chad Cohn

Sr.

5-10

261

OL/DL

77

Braxton Shannon

Jr.

5-10

221

OL/DL

78

Mark Moroz

Jr.

5-11

272

OL/DL

80

Hayden Linderman

So.

5-9

162

TE/LB

84

Jesus Torrero

Jr.

5-7

138

RB/DB

88

Sam Stargell

Sr.

6-1

174

TE/DB

2014 Season recap

RESULTS

(9-3, 5-1 NWC 1A)

Date

Opponent

Result

Sept. 5

Sedro-Woolley

L 35-7

Sept. 12

at Oroville

W 54-6

Sept. 19

at Cascade

W 42-6

Sept. 26

at Nooksack Valley*

W 24-14

Oct. 3

Meridian*

W 33-25

Oct. 10

at Lynden Christian*

W 31-20

Oct. 17

Nooksack Valley*

W 21-11

Oct. 24

at Meridian*

L 10-9

Oct. 30

Lynden Christian*

W 20-0

CLASS 1A NORTHWEST DISTRICT PLAYOFF

Nov. 7

Cedar Park Christian

W 70-13

CLASS 1A STATE PLAYOFFS

Nov. 14

Montesano

W 41-28

Nov. 22

Eatonville

L 29-28

*NWC 1A game

INDIVIDUAL LEADERS

Rushing

Att.

Yards

Avg.

TD

Liam Short

217

1,530

7.1

17

Jed Schleimer*

117

830

7.1

9

Zach Yurchuk

66

512

7.8

9

Johnny Mata

16

162

10.1

3

Thomas Barbo*

18

135

7.5

2

Passing

Cmp.

Att.

Yds.

TD

Int.

Mason Bass*

27

53

473

10

3

Balyn Jacoby

4

11

73

1

1

Receiving

Rec.

Yards

Avg.

TD

Ruvim Tikhonov

11

236

21.5

4

Carson Schmidt

4

95

23.8

4

Johnny Mata

6

76

12.5

1

Jed Schleimer*

7

61

8.7

2

Cody Zender

3

55

18.3

0

*returning player

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