The Bellingham football team is playing its first league schedule since 2013. To be successful, the Red Raiders must step up their game to match some of the top teams in the state, rely on their depth and lean on their veteran leaders.
1. A new ballgame
After playing nonleague schedules the past two seasons, the Red Raiders now are playing a full league schedule in the 2A Northwest Conference. While it gives them a more realistic chance to reach the postseason, it also means they’ll have to face state powers such as Lynden, Sedro-Woolley, Burlington-Edison and Lakewood in the regular season.
2. The more the merrier
Depth will be key for the Red Raiders, as they had more than 40 players turn out for the 2016 season. Injuries and other circumstances are part of high school sports, and Bellingham will have to rely on its depth as the season progresses.
3. Stick to your guns
Bellingham will rely on veterans who have been through the program during the unattached schedules the past two seasons. Those veterans are on both sides of the ball but will most likely be led by quarterback Nick Knutson and his main protector, Nick Oesterling.