A slow start and an inefficiency in the red zone cost the Mount Baker Mountaineers their season opener to Sedro-Woolley but that’s about the only bad news for coach Ron Lepper’s squad.
It will go down as a 20-7 loss on the road, but the Mountaineers showed plenty of reasons why they’re the regarded as the top Class 1A team in the Northwest Conference on Friday, Sept. 4, as they went head to head with the reigning Class 2A state champs and didn’t look at all inferior.
“It’s a quality opponent. We’re going to learn a lot about ourselves,” Lepper said after the game. “We did some good things tonight and we did some things not so great and that’s what you want to find out. You don’t want to go out and have a cakewalk.”
It was a far different story from last season, when the Mountaineers fell to the Cubs 35-7.
This year started the same, as the Cubs jumped out to a quick lead after a botched punt on Mount Baker’s first possession led to a Devin Willard rushing TD from seven yards out. After a three-and-out by the Mountaineers, the Cubs again went on a scoring drive, capped by a 35-yard Willard TD pass to Spencer Hoover. Adrian Vasquez converted both point-after attempts to make it 14-0.
But then the tides changed. Suddenly, Mount Baker was the aggressor. Jed Schleimer carved his way through the Cubs’ defense as Mount Baker went on drives of 75 and 52 yards before both ended in the red zone with turnovers on downs.
Schleimer finished with 161 yards on 22 carries and a 6-yard rushing touchdown that came in the third quarter, which the Cubs started with a three-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that ended with a 25-yard rushing score by Quinn Carpenter.
“Personally, I think it’s pretty awesome,” Schleimer said of his big night. “I found it exciting that because people have high expectations of me, I feel like I delivered tonight.”
The Mountaineers’ entire rushing attack was on point in the first game, totaling 218 yards on 43 attempts. Carson Engholm also finished with 52 yards on eight attempts.
It was much better than last year. Last year we got stuffed pretty hard,” Lepper said. “I thought our guys made some good adjustments and gave Jed the opportunity to make some plays. I thought all our running backs ran the ball hard tonight.”
Mount Baker continues its season against Oroville next Friday, Sept. 11, in Deming.
SW — Devin Willard 6 run (Adrian Vasquez kick)
SW – Spencer Hoover 35 pass from Willard (Vasquez kick)
SW — Quinn Carpenter 25 run (kick fail)
MB – Jed Schleimer 6 run (Jonathan Ehlers kick)
RUSHING — Baker: Jed Schleimer 22-161, Mason Bass 3-4, Jonathan Ehlers 1-(-19), Carson Engholm 8-52, Thomas Barbo 1-5, Vadim Kotsuyuba 3-4, Jeremiah Cronk 5-11. Sedro-Woolley: Spencer Hoover 1-0, Wesley Culp 1-3, Carter Crosby 1-5, Devin Willard 5-13, Thor Wagoner 1-3, Bryce Hornbeck 7-96, Quinn Carpenter 9-64, Will Ennis 1-0.
PASSING — Baker: Mason Bass 6-20-2-51. Sedro: Devin Willard 4-9-0-53.
RECEIVING — Baker: Jed Schleimer 3-9, Thomas Barbo 2-30, T.J. Bass 1-12. Sedro: Gavin Holdt 2-17, Spencer Hoover 1-35, James Barney 1-1.