High School Football

Squalicum’s game at Gig Harbor highlights week of Whatcom County football games

Lynden’s Eric Martin-Mann is tackled by the Mount Baker defense during a football jamboree Saturday, August 27, at Civic Stadium in Bellingham. Week 1 of the 2016 season kicks off Friday, Sept. 2.
Lynden’s Eric Martin-Mann is tackled by the Mount Baker defense during a football jamboree Saturday, August 27, at Civic Stadium in Bellingham. Week 1 of the 2016 season kicks off Friday, Sept. 2. For The Bellingham Herald

Terry Fox Secondary at Lynden

Time: 7 p.m.

Site: Lynden High School

Ravens update: This secondary school from Port Coquitlam, B.C., finished 5-6 in 2015. The Ravens went to their respective playoffs but lost in the quarterfinals. This is the first time since 2011 that the Lions will play a team from British Columbia.

Lions update: No. 8-ranked Lynden enters the season after a tough end to 2015, losing to Sedro-Woolley in a 2A Northwest District playoff game. The Lions finished last season with a 6-4 record, after advancing to the 2A state title games the previous four years.

Key to the game: With a duo of new quarterbacks for Lynden, the Lions will have to adjust to game speed quickly while also facing a team they’ve never played.

Player to watch: Lynden running back/linebacker Brody Weinheimer will make his first start at running back Friday. With little experience as a ballcarrier, Weinheimer will get his first shot to step up.

Herald prediction: Lynden 28-17

Nooksack Valley at Blaine

Time: 7 p.m.

Site: Blaine High School

Pioneers update: Nooksack Valley struggled last season, but returns 11 starters on each side of the ball. Those starters were mostly sophomores and juniors in 2015. With a new confidence and more experience, the Pioneers will look to rebound from their disappointing 1-9 season.

Borderites update: Defense will be key this season. After allowing 28 points per game in 2015, the Borderites want to limit big plays. Offensively, the Borderites are going to rely on their running game and a line that returns four starters.

Key to the game: With an up-tempo offense, the Pioneers will try to take advantage of a Borderites defense that allowed a fair number of big plays last season. The Borderites must keep the Pioneers offense off the field and let their running game take over.

Player to watch: Blaine running back Riley Fritsch will be vital this season after an impressive 2015. He’ll get his first chance to find that same success in 2016 against the Pioneers.

Herald prediction: Blaine 42-31

Anacortes at Meridian

Time: 7 p.m.

Site: Meridian High School

Seahawks update: The 2015 season was a struggle for the Seahawks, as they finished 2-7 after winning their first two games. In his second season as coach, Dustin South must rely on a group of new varsity players.

Trojans update: The Trojans have made it to state six of the past seven seasons. With a new starter at running back, Meridian must rely on its veteran quarterback Simon Burkett to lead the offense. The Trojans defense also will be heavily relied upon.

Key to the game: Coach Bob Ames’ offense will need to find new contributors both running and catching the ball after the graduation of Nick Dritsas. The team hopes that starts to shake out this week.

Player to watch: Burkett will be an important piece to the Trojans’ offense. After a solid 2015, he’ll get to take on a what was a porous Seahawks defense last season.

Herald prediction: Meridian 35-10

Lynden Christian at Bellingham

Time: 7 p.m.

Site: Civic Stadium

Lyncs update: With coach Dan Kaemingk returning, the Lyncs are looking forward to 2016 after 2015 ended with a 1A Northwest District playoff loss. Lynden Christian will rely on its running game, while also installing a new offense with more up-tempo play.

Red Raiders update: After two seasons playing a nonleague attached schedule, the Red Raiders return to play a full 2A Northwest Conference schedule. Bellingham worked to build the program the past two years and transformed the personality of the team after a couple of rough seasons.

Key to the game: The Red Raiders must be ready to stuff the run, while the Lyncs also will try to air it out a bit to keep the Red Raiders on their toes.

Player to watch: Lynden Christian running back David Bladies is a big, physical runner that nearly surpassed 1,000 yards last season. He will get to carry the load early and often against the Red Raiders.

Herald prediction: Lynden Christian 28-14

Mount Baker at Roosevelt

Time: 7 p.m.

Site: North East Athletic Complex, Seattle

Mountaineers update: After losing in the 1A state quarterfinals last season, Mount Baker is looking forward to similar success. The Mountaineers will heavily rely on their run game, which includes the talented Jed Schleimer. The Baker defense will also play a large role.

Roughriders update: Roosevelt finished 4-6 last year in the Metro Conference. The Mountaineers did not face a 3A school, so this will be a test for them.

Key to the game: The Mountaineers are replacing a couple of pieces on their offensive line. How quickly they can blend together to open holes for Schleimer will be key.

Player to watch: Schleimer rushed for more than 2,500 yards and 34 touchdowns in 2015.

Herald prediction: Mount Baker 35-21

Vancouver Academy at Ferndale

Time: 7 p.m.

Site: Ferndale High School

Vancouver Academy update: Little is known about this squad from British Columbia, but Ferndale hasn’t faced a team from north of the border since 2005. Vancouver Academy will face a tough test with Ferndale.

Golden Eagles update: Ferndale comes in ranked No. 11 in the Associated Press’ 3A poll. The Golden Eagles will rely on their rushing game with returners at running back and quarterback. Defensively they will try to continue their success from 2015, when they allowed an average of less than 20 points per game.

Key to the game: The Golden Eagles will want to establish the run early. Unlike last year, when Ferndale leaned heavily on Austin Honeycutt, the Golden Eagles want to become multidimensional.

Player to watch: Ferndale running back/cornerback Justice Powell will be a primary rusher for the Golden Eagles. He also will play a key role in the secondary.

Herald prediction: Ferndale 31-7

Squalicum at Gig Harbor

Time: 7 p.m.

Site: Roy Anderson Field, Gig Harbor

Storm update: Ranked No. 12 in the 3A State Poll, Squalicum will play its first season in 3A, as it moves up to the 3A Wesco North from the 2A/3A Northwest Conference. The Storm still feels confident, due to key returners at quarterback, wide receiver, defensive line and linebacker.

Tides update: Gig Harbor graduated 27 players, but the team still expects the same success from 2015 when it lost in the first round of 4A state playoffs. The Tides run a spread offense, and it should test Squalicum’s defense.

Key to the game: The Storm must match Gig Harbor on offense while playing steady defense against the Tides’ spread attack.

Player to watch: Squalicum receiver/cornerback Ben Peterson will be important to the Storm’s passing attack. He also is an excellent returner on special teams.

Herald prediction: Squalicum 35-21

Seattle Lutheran at Lummi

Time: 7 p.m.

Site: Lummi Nation School

Saints update: The Saints are coming off an 8-3 season, when they advanced to the 1B state quarterfinals. They lost to Neah Bay, who then lost to Lummi in the semifinals. The player to watch for the Saints will be quarterback Isaiah Dowding-Albrecht after an impressive junior season.

Blackhawks update: No. 1 Lummi is coming off an incredible 2015 season that saw them advance to the 1B state championship game. The Blackhawks return a number of key players from that squad and they feel as if they have a good shot of making the title game again and possibly even win it.

Key to the game: The Blackhawks’ offense must rely on a new running back and quarterback, but, as always, they have plenty of talented skill position players to chose from.

Player to watch: Lummi wide receiver, Trazil Lane will be one of the Blackhawks’ offensive weapons. He’s a threat to take it to the end zone every time he touches the ball and is an important part of the secondary.

Herald prediction: Lummi 50-24

Sehome at Mountlake Terrace

Time: 8 p.m.

Site: Edmonds Stadium

Mariners update: Since 2014, the Mariners have won a combined five games. They are hoping to turn their luck around in 2016 with more energy and fun within the program. The Mariners are a little smaller up front than they’ve been in recent years, but they’re hoping their team speed pays dividends.

Hawks update: Mountlake Terrace will want to run the ball often. The Hawks are not returning any key offensive starters, but have capable replacements. A key player to watch on the Hawks will be receiver Daniel Johnson, who had 544 receiving yards in 2015.

Key to the game: In a nonconference game, the Mariners must stop the Hawks rushing game while also containing Johnson.

Player to watch: Sehome wide receiver/linebacker Ryan McDonnell could play a large role on both the defense and offense.

Herald prediction: Mountlake Terrace 35-14