By Ian Ferguson
After leading by six at halftime, the Borderites couldn’t match the 3A Ferndale Golden Eagles in the second half, and ended up with their first loss of the season.
Ferndale won the September 18 league game in their home stadium 34–20.
Blaine junior quarterback Jalen Kortlever shook off a pick-six in his first pass of the night, going on to throw for 165 yards and two touchdowns. Senior running back Riley Fritsch ran for 104 yards, including a 76-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.
Blaine head coach Jay Dodd said the game revealed some areas needing improvement on offense.
“Our kids played hard and fought to the very end, but it was definitely a game we should have won,” Dodd said. “We didn’t make enough plays in the second half.”
The Borderites’ first drive of the game was cut short with an interception run back for a touchdown by Ferndale’s Sky Freeman, but Blaine went on to score the next two touchdowns: a 76-yard run by Fritsch and a 28-yard pass from Kortlever to Anthony Ball in the second quarter. The Borderites tried for two-point conversions on both touchdowns, falling short both times. Blaine kicker Kyle Sentkowski, a phenomenal kicker who is slated to play for USA Football’s national development team, missed the game with a minor injury sustained in the Granite Falls game the week before.
Ferndale went ahead 14–12 after scoring on a run in the second quarter, but Blaine answered with a 25-yard touchdown pass to Layton Hagee, and scored the extra two points with a pass to Josh Fakkema, bringing the score to 20–14 just before halftime.
In the second half, Blaine struggled on offense. The Borderites’ lack of a strong punter, combined with Ferndale’s strong special teams, meant Blaine’s offense was consistently pinned deep in their own territory, while Ferndale consistently received good field position. Ferndale scored three touchdowns in the second half, and Blaine didn’t score after halftime.
“We had a lot of three-and-outs in the second half,” Dodd said. “The kids’ effort, concentration and energy were fantastic, but we need to evaluate our packages and do a better job of making holes and making plays. Overall, I need to do a better job of coaching the offense.”
Blaine’s defense, on the other hand, did a great job against a much bigger team, Dodd said. The Golden Eagles, typically a strong running team, were held to 185 yards rushing. Blaine made two big fourth-down stops in the second half.
“Our defense understood what plays they were supposed to stop, and did a great job executing. The size and speed of a team like Ferndale is something you can’t simulate in practice, but our defense did a good job adjusting,” Dodd said.
With the loss, Blaine falls to 0–1 in league play, 2–1 overall. Ferndale is 1–0 in league and 2–1 overall.
The Borderites will take on the Sehome Mariners at home on Friday, September 25. The Northwest Conference game begins at 7 p.m.