By Oliver Lazenby
Blaine’s defense couldn’t shut down Sedro-Woolley’s ground game in a 52–20 loss last Friday in the two teams’ first conference game.
Sedro-Woolley didn’t complete a single passing play; their offense consisted mostly of Bryce Hornbeck and Durrell Dickerson running the ball for first down after first down in short plays that contributed to long possessions.
The Cubs were all over Blaine’s league-leading receiver Anthony Ball but the Borderites’ offense found a few things that worked, including passing to Alfonso Dermendziev and Chase Abshere. As usual, running back Riley Fritsch was a big contributor, rushing for 127 yards on 21 carries.
The Borderites’ defense simply could not catch Sedro-Woolley’s Hornbeck, who rushed for 219 yards on 12 carries, scored on long runs, and ran for more than 400 yards including special teams’ plays.
Sedro-Woolley led through a back-and-forth first half and scored on the first possession of the second half, making the score 24–14.
Blaine scored on the next possession on carries by Fritsch and catches by Ball and Abshere, but Hornbeck slammed the door shut with a 96-yard punt return up the left side of the field, nearly scoring but getting pushed out of bounds by Blaine’s River Markusen.
“I feel like we gave up,” Markuson said after the game. “We worked hard at practice and put a lot of effort into our tackling drills and it’s sad to see what just happened. If we would have just wrapped them up and made our tackles I think we would have won this game.”
With time short and the score 31–14, Blaine played a little bolder, which may have resulted in even more points for Sedro-Woolley. It worked at times: Dermendziev, captain of the track team, recovered an onside kick. But defensively, it left some holes on the field.
“We were trying to make up for lost time,” said Blaine head coach Jay Dodd. “We knew time was limited so we were pressing and we started making some mistakes.”
The game was the conference opener for the previously undefeated Borderites. Did it say anything about Blaine’s post-season chances?
“I hope not,” Dodd said. “To lose by 32 points is really disappointing, but I think we’re a better football team than that.”
Sedro-Woolley (2–1, 1–0 in conference games) won the state 2A championship game two years ago and made it to the state semifinals last year.
Hornbeck seemed unstoppable, wriggling past multiple Blaine defenders at times, and running for dozens of yards without an orange jersey anywhere near him at others. Dodd maintains that his team should have been able to stop him.
“We created the space for number 23 (Hornbeck). We created those lanes for him to run. We mage him look like Gale Sayers today, so that’s on us,” Dodd said, referring to a retired NFL player who earned the moniker “The Kansas Comet,” in college.
The Borderites offense was once again a bright spot, with Ball, Abshere and Dermendziev all catching multiple passes, and Fritsch continuing his reliable running game.
For Dodd, who has made tackling in open space a focus in Borderites’ practices so far, it’s back to the drawing board for his defense.
“I spent a lot of time last weekend trying to figure out what’s our plan of attack, what’s the best way to stop these guys, and whatever I thought was the right way to stop them wasn’t the right way to stop them,” he said. “So I have to do a better job of coaching. Right now I’m embarrassed.”
The Borderites next game is against Bellingham (0–1, 2–1 in conference games) at 7 p.m, September 23 at Bellingham High School.