by Ian Ferguson
The Blaine football team suffered a humbling loss to an undefeated team from Sedro-Woolley, falling 37–7 in the homecoming game.
The Borderites took on the 2A power from Skagit County in front of a packed home crowd October 3. The opening drive looked promising for the Borderites, but things went downhill fast when a field goal attempt was blocked, and the home team never recovered.
The Borderites received the opening kickoff and Layton Hagee returned the ball to the 40-yard line. Running back Riley Fritsch used his quickness and agility to find holes and move the ball to within field goal range over four plays before the Sedro-Woolley defense forced a fourth-down field goal attempt. When the kick went up, a defender on the Cubs’ front line got his hand on the ball and it fell into the arms of a Sedro-Woolley cornerback, who ran it into Blaine territory.
Blaine’s defense made the Cubs work for their first touchdown, and the Borderites got out of the first quarter trailing by only a touchdown. The second quarter is when Sedro-Woolley hit the gas pedal, leaving Blaine in the dust.
The Cubs scored three unanswered touchdowns in the second quarter.
“They’re very fast, and they’re big, strong guys,” Blaine coach Jay Dodd said of the Cubs. “Take nothing away from them, but we could have played much better.”
Blaine’s offense struggled, with multiple three-and-outs. They made a valiant effort at a fake punt, but the runner was stuffed a couple of yards past the line of scrimmage, giving the Cubs great field position and an easy scoring drive.
After receiving the kickoff after Sedro-Woolley’s fourth touchdown, Blaine manufactured a solid drive, with four runs to Fritsch and a pass to Cody Gobbato. The Borderites were almost to the red zone when a false start penalty set them back. Quarterback Nathan Kramme scrambled for nine yards, but then a personal foul on the next play set the Borderites back even further and the half ended with Blaine down 28–0.
“For whatever reason, we came out a little lethargic and didn’t play with a whole lot of energy,” Dodd said. “We weren’t the same team we’ve been all season long. Our offense was ineffective, and on defense we didn’t do a good job getting off our blocks and tackling. Those [Sedro-Woolley] guys are big and fast and hard to catch, so credit to them, but we needed to do better.”
In the second half, Blaine was able to slow the flood of scoring from their opponents, but didn’t put points on the board until it was far too late. The Cubs scored a touchdown and a safety in the third quarter. The safety came after a bad snap on a punt attempt.
Instead of giving up when down by five touchdowns and a safety, the Borderites battled to score the only touchdown in the fourth quarter. Fritsch scored on a 6-yard run late in the fourth quarter, giving Blaine fans something to cheer about in a game that was otherwise hard to watch.
“I think we played better after halftime. We had a chance to regroup. The way we came out and kept fighting until the end was good to see,” Dodd said.
Many of Blaine’s second- and third-string players saw the field in the second half. Dodd said he was encouraged by the work the second group put in.
“They were playing like they want to compete for a starting spot, and a few of them will be starting for us this week,” Dodd said.
Alfonso Dermendziev at corner and Tim Samoylovich at offensive tackle both earned starts in Friday’s game against Anacortes.
“[Dermendziev] tackled well, he was in the right spots and he even got an interception,” Dodd said. “I thought [Samoylovich] played with great energy.”
In light of the huge scoring deficit late in the game, Blaine’s offense took the opportunity to work on its passing game.
“We threw a lot to our wide receivers because it’s something our offense needs to work on. We’re throwing too many incomplete passes,” Dodd said.
Blaine completed six of 28 pass attempts in the game against Sedro-Woolley. Coaches will be taking a fresh approach to Blaine’s entire offense before the next game, with a goal of simplifying the playbook.
“We’ve been trying to do too much, and we’re going to narrow our focus,” Dodd said. “Instead of trying to do a lot of things, we want to do just a few things very well. So we’re going to eliminate some of our playbook and get back to the basics.”
Dodd will hope to unveil a focused and dialed offense in Blaine’s next game against Anacortes. The Seahawks are 0–3 in NWC play, but Dodd said there are a few reasons not to underestimate them.
“In my opinion they’ve had a tough schedule so far. They’ll be playing on their senior night, which is a game that teams often play their hardest, and they have a really good wide receiver,” Dodd said.
The Borderites will face the Seahawks at Anacortes on Friday, October 10. The game begins at 7 p.m.