By Ian Ferguson
The Borderites fired on all cylinders in a home game against Sehome September 25, beating the Mariners 37–7.
Blaine head coach Jay Dodd said a strong performance in all three phases – offense, defense and special teams – led to the win.
“It was an all-around good performance by everyone – players and coaches,” Dodd said.
The game began with an impressive kickoff return by Borderite running back Riley Fritsch, who followed blocks by Braden Otto and Armando Moser-Hernandez to return the ball to the Mariners’ 30-yard line. Blaine quarterback Jalen Kortlever then led the offense on a steady drive ending with a 9-yard touchdown pass to Josh Fakkema, and an extra point kick by Kyle Sentkowski made it 7–0. The teams swapped unproductive possessions to end the first quarter.
Blaine’s defense dominated the second quarter. Beginning with what Dodd called, “a terrific punt,” by Sentkowski, the special teams pinned Sehome on their own 1-yard line. Not content with the two points afforded by a safety, the defense got aggressive and forced a fumble. Andre Creasey-Pulphus leapt on the loose ball in the end zone, earning Blaine’s second touchdown.
Shortly thereafter, Marcus Potts intercepted a pass and returned it all the way to within an inch of the end zone. Potts hit the pylon on a dive, but came up just short on the ruling. Fritsch punched it in for Blaine’s third touchdown on the ensuing play.
With time running out in the first half, the Borderites went into a hurry-up offense mode. Two passes by Kortlever – one to Fakkema and one to Layton Hagee – set up Fritsch for his second touchdown run of the night.
In the third quarter, Kortlever found Anthony Ball in the end zone on a 25-yard fade route. Later, Sehome scored their first and only touchdown of the game on a four-yard run by Tanner Patrick. Sentkowski added three points for Blaine with a field goal in the fourth quarter, bringing the final score to 37–7.
With such strong performances by all involved, it’s tough to pinpoint a highlight for Blaine, but Dodd said his team’s defense impressed him the most. Blaine’s defense held Sehome to 49 passing yards and 231 rushing yards.
“They accounted for two touchdowns, and really limited Sehome’s offense the whole night,” Dodd said. “From the first quarter on, we felt fully confident in our defense. They just keep learning every week, and they’re doing a great job of swarming to the ball and tackling well.”
Dodd was also complimentary of Kortlever’s abilities in the quarterback position. Kortlever threw for 242 yards, with two touchdowns and zero interceptions.
“He’s a smart player, he’s reading the defense very well and he’s throwing very accurate passes,” Dodd said. “We have four or five great targets that Jalen is able to choose from, which is rare for a school our size. Jalen is doing a great job of reading the defense, choosing a target and hitting it. He always wants to improve and get better, and he wants to win.”
Dodd said the desire for team victory over individual performance is a common trait for the whole team.
“No one is focused on statistics; everyone is working together and focused on getting the win, which is really good to see,” Dodd said.
With the win, the Borderites are 1–1 in NWC games and 3–1 overall. Sehome is 1–1 in NWC and 2–2 overall.
Blaine will travel to Sedro-Woolley this Friday, October 2 for another NWC game. The Cubs are the defending 2A state champions, with two wins and two losses so far this season. Dodd said the Borderites will be studying film this week and preparing for Sedro-Wooley’s complex offense.
“The bottom line is they have a lot of talented players and they’re the defending state champions. We’re going to be the underdogs going in, but we like that,” Dodd said. “We’re excited to try and surprise some people with a win.”
The game begins at 7 p.m.