Never in his craziest dreams did Sehome senior Max Diehl ever see himself throwing a touchdown pass to Taylor Rapp.
Or to anyone else, for that matter.
Diehl, who started the season as a tight end/linebacker, showed he could play quarterback, too, as the Mariners learned in their 22-6 non-league win over Bellingham on Friday, Sept. 11, at Civic Stadium.
“No, never,” said Diehl, talking with a wide grin of expecting to play quarterback when the season started. He threw a classic game-clinching 57-yard scoring pass to University of Washington recruit Rapp on the last play of the third quarter.
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“I hadn’t played quarterback since fifth grade, but I thought (considering the team’s unexpected needs) it was a good idea to try, since I know the plays,” Diehl said of being asked to convert to help provide quarterback depth to go with junior Nic Roger, who started against the Red Raiders. “But I didn’t expect to play so much tonight. It was amazing, throwing to Taylor.”
Starting quarterback Gavin Kaepernick sustained a serious knee injury in last week’s season-opening loss to defending Class 1A state champion Cascade Christian, forcing Mariners coach Bob Norvell to seek depth at the position, since he wants Rapp to take his usual star turns at running back and safety, not quarterback.
“Max is a smart kid,” said Norvell. “We just had to find some depth (Rapp was pressed into duty last week when Roger also was injured).”
Rapp was impressed with Diehl’s throw.
“Max was thrown into the fire, and he executed,” said Rapp, who displayed his Division I caliber speed on his score. “He hit me in stride (perfectly).”
Diehl also threw a 44-yard pass to Jeffrey Werner. But the versatile senior learned how the other half lives, too, when Bellingham sophomore Zach Lorenz returned his second interception of the game 82 yards to spoil Sehome’s shutout with 2:25 remaining in the fourth quarter.
On Sehome’s first series, Roger hit Marcus Montag for 16 yards, setting up a 23-yard scoring run by Daton Nestlebush, who led the Mariners (1-1) with 61 yards rushing on nine carries.
In the second quarter, Montag’s 38-yard interception return set up a 3-yard touchdown by tough 210-pound linebacker Zach Zimmerman for his first varsity touchdown.
“Those are good people to run behind,” Zimmerman said of Norvell’s surprising play call. “It worked.”
Bellingham coach Ted Flint could be proud of the spirit his Red Raiders (0-2) displayed during a tough way to start the season — with losses to Squalicum and Sehome. Bellingham is playing an independent schedule and will now play primarily smaller schools while continuing to build the Red Raiders’ program.
Bellingham quarterback Nick Knutson completed 17 of 33 passes with one interception for 87 yards. Sehome’s three quarterbacks connected on 6 of 22 passes with two interceptions for 137 yards.
In all, the Mariners used the game to try eight ball-carriers and six receivers along with three passers.
Sehome -- Daton Nestlebush 23 run (Cooper Rogers-Rombold kick)
Sehome -- Zach Zimmerman 3 run (kick failed)
Sehome -- Safety, Bellingham punter stepped out of end zone while snagging high snap
Sehome -- Taylor Rapp 57 pass from Max Diehl (Rodgers-Rombold kick)
Bell -- Zach Lorenz 82 interception return (kick failed)
RUSHING — Bellingham -- Isiah Harrington 10-14, Dakota Johanson 5-9, Ethan Fields 8-16, Chris Thompson 2-6, Nick Knutson 1-(minus 9). Sehome: Daton Nestlebush 9-61, Taylor Rapp 5-25, Kevin Sun 7-16, Zach Zimmerman 1-3, Anton Arena 3-7, Jace Rinker 1-4, Tanner Patrick 3-(minus 2), Marcus Montag 3-(minus 14).
PASSING — Bellingham -- Nick Knutson 17-33-1-87. Sehome -- Nic Roger 3-11-0-32; Max Diehl 3-8-1-105; Marcus Montag 0-3-1-0.
RECEIVING — Bellingham -- Isiah Harrington 7-20, Joseph Worley 5-29, Noah Hadfield 1-18, Ethan Fields 2-9, Brahm vanWoerden 1-7, Chris Thompson 1-4. Sehome: Taylor Rapp 1-57, Marcus Montag 2-25, Jace Rinker 1-7, Kevin Sun 1-4, Jeffrey Werner 1-44.