With Mount Baker running back Jed Schleimer tallying 1,125 rush yards on just 68 carries (16.5 yards per rush) through the first four weeks of the season, including a state-record 521 yards last week, most would expect him to get more than just 12 carries in the Mountaineers 33-28 win over Meridian.
He tallied 20 yards on those 12 carries, but did find the end zone once. Carson Engholm instead emerged as the lead back, taking 21 carries 120 yards and the pass game, captained by quarterback Mason Bass threw the ball 24 times for 258 yards.
So why the change in scheme all of a sudden for the smashmouth Mounties?
“They put 26 (Nick Dritsas) on him (Schleimer) everywhere he went. I would too if a kid comes off running like that,” coach Ron Lepper said. “Jed had to swallow his pride and he made some big blocks for us and made key plays when we needed it.”
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Bellingham Herald
Lepper knew the Trojans would have all eyes on Schleimer going in, so he let his receivers know to expect to get the ball often. Thomas Barbo was the recipient of most of the throws, catching seven balls for 184 yards and a touchdown.
“It was a lot of fun,” Barbo said.
T.J. Bass had two touchdown catches, including the game winner, Mason Bass was more than competent in the pocket after throwing an interception, and the Mountaineers showed they’re more than a one-man show.
Powell, Westerhoff shining at cornerback
One of the biggest questions for Squalicum’s defense heading into this season was who would fill the void at cornerback after the Storm graduated both its corners last fall.
Well, the answer has been Darious Powell and Noah Westerhoff, and the two, who are also standout guards on the basketball team, have thrived thus far.
During Squalicum’s 54-31 win over Burlington-Edison, the two were tasked with slowing down the Tigers’ passing game when they went into desperation pass mode.
Both did well defending Burlington-Edison’s many athletes. Powell and Westerhoff also have carved out roles on the offensive side of the ball as No. 3 or 4 options in the pass game.
Wittenberg’s big night boosts Lynden
Leading the way in receiving yards Friday was senior Jordan Wittenberg.
Wittenberg hauled in six catches for 140 yards and a huge touchdown at the end of the first quarter after Lynden recovered an onside kick. The 49-yard touchdown was one of three 30-yard completions from quarterback Sterling Somers.
“Sterling was on a roll today. Even warming up he was dropping dimes,” Wittenberg said.
In the second quarter, Wittenberg found himself catching another ball, but this one was from Sehome’s quarterback Jace Rinker. His touchdown to end the first quarter and this interception gave Lynden enough momentum to run away with the game.
Heading into the night, Wittenberg was second in the Northwest Conference in receiving yards. He trailed Derek Cherryholmes of Burlington-Edison by only seven yards.
“I’m just coming out here doing what I do, helping the team get a win like we did tonight,” Wittenberg said. “If you’re second you always want to be first.”
Dodd displays confidence in Kortlever
Even though junior quarterback Jalen Kortlever was under tremendous pressure all night, Blaine coach Jay Dodd displayed confidence in his junior quarterback during Blaine’s 48-8 loss to defending Class 2A state champion Sedro-Woolley.
With Blaine trailing 20-0, two minutes left in the first half and the Borderites on their 17-yard line, Kortlever was still assigned to pass three consecutive times. Even though all three fell incomplete, it was still an impressive display under the Cubs’ fierce pass rush.
Sedro-Woolley quarterback Devin Willard made Blaine pay, throwing a 9-yard touchdown pass to Gavin Holdt with 29 seconds remaining for a 27-0 halftime lead. Willard finished with four scoring passes.
Even so, Kortlever had the gumption and accuracy to find Jonathan Starcer with a 36-yard touchdown pass on Blaine’s first series of the second half, after Eric Davis recovered an onside kick to set up the score.
Blaine saw too much of speed-laden Sedro-Woolley senior Carter Crosby, in his first game this season. He scored twice in the first quarter, on a shovel pass that he turned into a 52-yard touchdown and on a 23-yard run. Crosby also scored with only 3 minutes and 27 seconds remaining on a 54-yard scramble while playing quarterback.
“We didn’t know how they would utilize him,” said Blaine coach Jay Dodd, since Crosby can display his speed at any offensive backfield spot.
The Cubs showed the type of depth they’ll need to move into state contention, using seven rushers, six pass-catchers and three quarterbacks in the first half.
Ferndale’s run game prevails again
Ferndale sure can run the football. In their game against Anacortes the Golden Eagles scored six rushing touchdowns and ran for 311 yards on 26 carries, for an impressive 12 yards per carry.
That’s right, Ferndale averaged a first down each time they ran the ball.
Several massive runs pushed this average up — most notably an 81-yard touchdown run by sophomore Cole Semu.
Ferndale’s running productivity was the key to their entire offense. Coach Jamie Plenkovich focused on the run early. Ferndale’s first three touchdowns were by running backs. This forced Anacortes to line more defenders up near the line of scrimmage, which then created holes in the secondary that sophomore QB James Hinson exploited.
Hinson finished the game nearly perfect, 6 of 7 passing with 127 yards and a touchdown. Much of this productivity, in addition to Hinson’s natural talent, was thanks to the rushing game.
Lucas Roetcisoender injured during LC-NV game
A scary moment transpired at Lynden Christian High School as the Lyncs took on the Nooksack Valley Pioneers.
Starting linebacker and QB Lucas Roetcisoender went down after being part of a tackle late in the third quarter. After the play a couple of Pioneers players tried to help Roetcisoender up, but he stayed down on the grass barely moving.
Roetcisoender was taken off in a stretcher and he was being rolled out he lifted up his arm and gave a thumbs up while the crowd cheered. Nooksack Valley players ran over and showered him with words of encouragement.
According to head coach Galen Kaemingk Roetcisoender’s parents went to the hospital with him and that he was able to move his arms and legs.
“He had a bit of neck pain and we just wanted to be safe,” Kaemingk said. “He was answering all the questions the medics were asking and he was even making jokes.”