It was starting to become as predictable in the month of December as Christmas – the first Saturday of the month, the Lynden football team would be playing for a Class 2A state title.
Four straight years and seven out of nine, that’s exactly where the Lions found themselves, winning titles in 2006, ’08, ’09, ’11, ’12 and ’13.
And the two seasons Lynden didn’t make the title game during that run? Well, at least they made the state playoffs.
But that string came to a abrupt halt last year, as Northwest Conference rival Sedro-Woolley handed the Lions a 21-17 Northwest District playoff loss, preventing the Lions from advancing to state for the first time since 2005 and only the fifth time in 22 years.
The guys on the team have been hungrier because of what happened last year. When we didn’t got to the playoffs last year, I think that sparked a fire in them. I’ve seen them working harder during the offseason.
Lynden coach Curt Kramme
“I don’t want to throw last year’s team under the bus, because those guys battled hard all season,” Lynden coach Curt Kramme said, “and we got the worst draw in the state as far as the opening round for the round of 32 – both teams did. So tip your cap to Sedro-Woolley.”
Needless to say, though, missing state didn’t sit well with the players.
“Football at Lynden has got a rep,” senior running back/linebacker Brody Weinheimer said. “It’s a big motivation, especially with the teams we’ve had in years past and guys like Josh Kraght, Luke Christianson and Caleb Newman – all those guys. .. The guys – all the seniors, especially the captains – are hungry. We’re ready to go out and play. We’ve been putting in the work all summer. We’re hungry to get back.”
2 Sophomores in the mix to earn starting positions for Lynden on a relatively old, but inexperienced Lynden roster, coach Curt Kramme said.
A pride of hungry lions is probably the last thing the rest of the conference wanted to see.
But Lynden could look a bit different in 2016 from what their NWC foes have come to expect.
“I think our defense is going to be strong,” Kramme said. “We always put defense first at this school. We’re known for scoring some points, but our defense sets all that up. Our philosophy has always been: if the other team doesn’t score, they don’t have a chance to win.”
The Lions could be a little bigger than usual on the line with Tanner Steele leading the way, though the team still has it’s share of the typical small, quick, nasty linemen. Jake Kettles and Trey Labounty lead a list of players likely to see time at defensive end, while Kramme is expecting big things from Weinheimer and Gage Bates at linebacker to complete what figures to be a strong front seven.
Are we going to buckle up and play hard and match an opponent’s intensity and fight harder when we face some adversity, or are we going to fold? That’s probably the biggest key for us.
Lynden coach Curt Kramme
On offense, sophomore James Marsh and senior Jacob Hommes will split time at quarterback. When he’s not taking snaps, Hommes will be sharing duties at running back with Weinheimer, running behind an offensive line that has Ed Andrew and Steele returning.
Lynden also will utilize a tight end a bit more than years past with David Bode, and they could even use some two-tight end sets if they’re able to move Labounty or Kettles off the interior five. Rylan Severson and Landon DeBruin are returning starters at receiver but, as usual, the Lions figure to have a number of talented targets.
Terry Fox (B.C.) Secondary
at Sehome (at Civic Stadium)*
*2A Northwest Conference game
Elijah Vander Haak
Grant Vander Yacht
2A NORTHWEST DISTRICT PLAYOFFS
*2A/3A Northwest Conference game
2015 statistical leaders