High School Football

They may not be biggest team in the 2A NWC, but don’t overlook Blaine in 2016

What to expect from Blaine football in 2016

Blaine football coach Jay Dodd and running back Riley Fritsch speak about the Borderites' keys to success in 2016.
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Blaine football coach Jay Dodd and running back Riley Fritsch speak about the Borderites' keys to success in 2016.

For the past two years, the Blaine football team has been kind of like the middle child of the Northwest Conference – a little too small to hang with many of the bigger Class 2A and 3A schools but too big to compete in 1A.

Not coincidentally, the Borderites missed the postseason in 2014 and 2015 as a 2A school after making at least the district playoffs seven of the previous eight years.

Blaine was hopeful that reclassification would give it a break, but the enrollment numbers simply wouldn’t cooperate – the Borderites again will be the smallest 2A NWC school and the third-smallest 2A school in the state.

“We were right on the edge of becoming a 1A or a 2A last February,” Blaine coach Jay Dodd said. “It’s a four-year commitment this time, so it really would have been nice. But that’s the way it went.”

We’ve got a very special senior class, and they’ve been waiting for this for a long time. Lot of good players in that senior group, and they’re ready to go.

Blaine coach Jay Dodd

But Dodd and his boys on the border are far from throwing in the towel.

With 3A Squalicum and Ferndale moving to the Wesco Conference and a strong group of returners, the Borderites believe they have a legitimate shot to put a scare in the traditional 2A NWC powers and contend for at least a postseason spot.

“I expect us to battle for a conference championship,” senior Riley Fritsch said. “I think we’re a lot more experienced. Last year, we had a lot of juniors – we didn’t have a very big senior class. ... We’ve got pretty much the same guys back, and now we’re bigger, stronger and faster.”

Preseason practices have shown that, as Dodd said there is competition at a number of positions – something a school Blaine’s size doesn’t always see.

6.2 Yards per play Blaine allowed in 2015, thanks in part to a large number of big plays. The Borderites hope to bring that number down in 2016.

“In the past, we’ve just sort of worked with certain groups of kids getting them ready for Fridays,” Dodd said. “Right now, we’re still figuring out who those players are, and it’s making everyone better.”

One position in which there’s certainty is tailback, where Fritsch has been the bell-cow back the past two seasons, rushing for a combined 2,573 yards and 29 touchdowns.

He’ll be running behind a line that returns four starters – tackles Jared Phillips and Austin Kelstrup, guard Porter Schmidt and center John Kramme.

“They’re bigger and stronger, but will they go out there and move some people?” Dodd said.

What can be challenging for us is we need to find four guys across the board that can tackle in space and make plays on defense. Typically, a school our size might have one, maybe two.

Blaine coach Jay Dodd

They’ll also be asked to protect returning quarterback Jalen Kortlever, who has Anthony Ball back as a target as well as six or seven other receivers.

As good as the offense could be, the key for the Borderites likely will be their defense’s ability to stop the big play – the team’s “Achilles’ heel” the past two seasons, Dodd said. Much of the responsibility for stopping big plays will fall on safeties Gunnar Arnason and Garrett Adams and seven or eight others competing to start at cornerback.

Dodd said he hopes to keep just seven in the box to allow the secondary to focus on stopping those big plays. Tucker Jensen will be the vocal and inspirational leader at inside linebacker, while Blaine will look for big things from Phillips and Cruz Rodriguez at outside linebacker.

2016 schedule

Date

Opponent

Time

Sept. 2

Nooksack Valley

7 p.m.

Sept. 9

at Meridian

7 p.m.

Sept. 16

Sedro-Woolley*

7 p.m.

Sept. 23

Bellingham*

7 p.m.

Sept. 30

at Anacortes*

7 p.m.

Oct. 7

at Lynden*

7 p.m.

Oct. 14

Lakewood*

7 p.m.

Oct. 21

Sehome*

7 p.m.

Oct. 28

at Burlington-Edison*

7 p.m.

*2A Northwest Conference game

2016 roster

No.

Player

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

Pos.

1

Jalen Kortlever

6-1

180

Sr.

QB/DB

2

Colby Knutzen

5-8

140

So.

WR/DB

3

Haden Anthony

5-10

150

Sr.

WR/DB

3

Riley Leach

5-7

160

So.

WR/DB

4

Chase Abshere

6-0

170

So.

WR/DB

5

Julian Gonzalez

5-8

180

Jr.

RB/LB

6

Cameron Ellis

6-1

160

Jr.

QB/DB

7

Max Miller

5-11

155

Jr.

WR/DB

9

Ben Adams

6-0

170

So.

QB/DB

10

Bryce Stanovich

6-2

160

Jr.

WR/DB

11

Gunnar Arnason

6-0

190

Sr.

WR/DB

12

Brian Davis

5-9

185

So.

WR/DB

12

Carlos Gutierrez

5-10

165

Jr.

WR/DB

13

Alex Mercado

5-7

125

So.

WR/DB

13

Dalton Mouw

6-0

155

Jr.

WR/DB

14

Alfonso Dermendziev

5-11

160

Sr.

WR/DB

15

Garrison Folk

5-7

150

Jr.

WR/DB

16

Isaiah Russ

5-9

140

Jr.

WR/DB

17

Eric Davis

6-1

160

Sr.

WR/DB

20

Trenton Denhartog

6-0

150

Jr.

WR/DB

21

Riley Fritsch

5-9

180

Sr.

RB/DB

22

Stephen Delligatti

5-10

145

Sr.

WR/DB

23

Caleb Bullard

5-4

140

Jr.

RB/DL

25

Braden Otto

5-8

175

Sr.

RB/LB

27

Hudson Reid

5-11

180

So.

OL/LB

27

Travis Siebol

5-11

165

Sr.

TE/LB

29

Garrett Adams

5-5

145

Sr.

RB/DB

30

Danyil Tkachov

5-10

160

So.

RB/LB

31

Jaden Seitz

6-0

195

Jr.

TE/LB

31

Blake Renskers

5-8

160

Sr.

LB/RB

33

Yosyf Tkachov

6-0

150

Jr.

WR/LB

34

Jacob Westfall

5-10

175

So.

RB/LB

35

Kyle Sentkowski

6-0

190

Sr.

K/P

51

John Kramme

5-10

215

Sr.

OL/DL

52

Chase Dubois

5-10

165

Jr.

RB/DL

53

Saul Magallon

5-11

210

Jr.

OL/DL

54

Porter Schmidt

5-10

230

Jr.

OL/DL

55

Connor Ellis

6-0

230

So.

OL/DL

56

Allan Louie

5-9

195

Sr.

OL/DL

57

Jakob Soto

6-2

210

Jr.

OL/LB

58

Joshua Soto

6-3

210

Jr.

OL/LB

59

Isaac Avena

5-9

180

Sr.

OL/LB

60

River Markusen

5-11

195

Jr.

OL/DL

63

Alex Burke

5-11

145

So.

WR/DB

64

Devyn Dickinson

6-1

200

Sr.

OL/DL

65

Tucker Jensen

6-1

210

Sr.

OL/LB

69

Tristan Alanis

5-10

190

Jr.

OL/DL

70

Jared Philips

6-4

240

Sr.

OL/LB

71

Joshua Rogers

6-0

175

Jr.

OL/LB

75

Austin Kelstrup

6-4

320

Sr.

OL/DL

77

Isaiah Hee

5-5

180

Jr.

OL/DL

81

Dashawn Neal

5-11

165

Sr.

WR/DB

82

Cruz Rodriguez

6-3

215

Jr.

TE/LB

83

Drew Schroeder

6-0

155

So.

WR/LB

84

Conner Bolick

5-11

140

So.

WR/DB

88

Anthony Ball

6-0

195

Sr.

WR/DB

NA

Arjun Sinota

5-9

160

So.

TE/LB

NA

Adam Vega

6-2

185

So.

WR/DB

2015 results

Date

Opponent

Score

Sept. 4

New Westminster (B.C.)

W 55-20

Sept. 11

at Granite Falls

W 48-0

Sept. 18

at Ferndale*

L 34-20

Sept. 25

Sehome*

W 37-7

Oct. 2

at Sedro-Woolley*

L 48-8

Oct. 9

Anacortes*

W 35-28

Oct. 16

Burlington-Edison*

L 45-21

Oct. 23

at Squalicum*

L 34-13

Oct. 30

Lynden*

L 37-14

*2A/3A Northwest Conference game

2015 statistical leaders

RUSHING

Player

Att.

Yards

Avg.

TD

Riley Fritsch

211

1,166

5.5

13

Garrett Adams

27

225

8.3

2

Jon Anderson

4

23

5.8

0

Marcus Potts

6

-9

-1.5

0

PASSING

Player

Att.

Cmp.

Yards

TD

Int.

Jalen Kortlever

84

184

1,511

19

9

Marcus Potts

2

3

16

0

0

RECEIVING

Player

Rec.

Yards

Avg.

TD

Anthony Ball

35

545

15.6

8

Jonathan Starcer

16

397

24.8

2

Layton Hagee

10

190

19.0

2

Gunnar Arnason

4

112

28.0

2

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