Lynden’s defense shut down Blaine’s running game, limiting Riley Fritsch, the second most productive running back in the Northwest Conference (NWC), to just 49 yards over 25 carries. On the other side of the ball, the Lions showed off their strong passing. Quarterback Sterling Somers threw for 219 yards and three touchdowns.
In the second quarter, quarterback Jalen Kortlever hit Gunnar Arnason with a 40-yard pass over the middle to set up Fritsch to score on a 4-yard run. Kyle Sentkowski kicked the extra point, and Blaine soon regained possession when Josh Fakkema intercepted a pass at mid-field and returned for decent yardage and good field position. The ensuing drive ended with a 1-yard Fritsch touchdown.
Blaine trailed by six points after scoring those two consecutive touchdowns, but Lynden kept up the pressure and pulled away with a 17-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter. Another touchdown and a field goal in the fourth quarter prevented any hope of a Blaine comeback.
“They did a good job stopping our run, especially in the second half,” said Blaine coach Jay Dodd. “They have a three-year starting quarterback with good targets, so their passing game is strong. Our secondary did a good job of limiting the damage, but they were still able to make a lot of passes. It came down to us not being able to run the ball as well as we’d like to.”
“The seniors worked hard, and they’re just good people. It was an absolute pleasure being around them for the last four years, and just because the season is over doesn’t mean the relationship is over. This is just one phase of their lives, and I’ll be available to help them figure out what’s next,” Dodd said.
For some, the next step might include playing football in college. Josh Fakkema, Armando Moser and Shaq Woods are all considering playing at the next level.
“We’ll definitely get in contact with coaches from different schools, and we’ll help them find a good fit. The most important thing is to find a school that offers degree programs in line with what the kids want to study and what career path they want to pursue,” Dodd said.
Dodd recognized the contributions of all the seniors, including Jonathan Starcer, Preston Bellville and Marcus Potts. Potts was tapped to start as quarterback halfway through his sophomore year, when lead quarterback Nathan Kramme sustained an injury.
“I remember it like it was yesterday,” Dodd said. “He led us from behind to a win against Meridian, which put us into the playoffs, and he led us to a playoff win as well. I have a lot of good memories with the seniors on this team, and we’re going to miss them. Realistically, we have a lot of guys who will be coming back and we’re going to be a strong team next year.”
Kortlever will return as a senior with a year of experience as a starting quarterback under his belt. The line will be stronger in some regards, Dodd said, with another year to grow and strength-train in the gym. Skills players such as wide receivers Anthony Ball and Layton Hagee will keep Blaine’s option open on offense, and Fritsch will no doubt continue to put his strong running abilities on display.
The Borderites will look to improve on this season’s 2–5 NWC record as they compete in a strong 2A field next year.
“We’ll be working hard in the off season,” Dodd said.