Borderites blow by Wolves in first win since 2001
The Borderites used a surprising big play offense and
suffocating rushing defense last Friday night at home to
beat the Coupeville Wolves 33-15 for their first gridiron
victory since the fall of 2001.
Senior quarterback Doug Goldsby, who’s been playing in the Canadian junior system for several seasons and already has half a dozen games under his belt this year, led a solid and balanced Blaine attack that gained 219 yards on the ground and 238 through the air for 457 yards total offense compared to just over 200 yards for Coupeville.
Goldsby completed 12 out of 27 passes with only one interception. Sophomore Joey Paciorek was the leading receiver with five pass receptions for 120 yards and two touchdowns. Senior Bryan Galbraith caught two for 57 yards, one for a 39-yard touchdown in which he also dragged 145-pound Coupeville cornerback Ryan Kelly, who was clinging to his jersey, across the goal line.
Senior tight end Craig Rothwell, whose work ethic coach Dave Fakkema called “a coach’s dream,” also caught two for 32 yards. “After being out of the football program for two years,” Fakkema said last week, “Rothwell showed up and said to tell him what to do. I did and so did he. Quite a kid.”
Goldsby’s 11 carries for 83 yards (11-83) led the rushing offense, followed closely by junior Michael Poitras (14-77) and senior Sean Hicks, who got 40 tough inside yards on 12 attempts. Borderite rushing touchdowns were scored by Goldsby and Hicks.
Defensively compact but fiercely competitive Rommel Paez forced two of Coupeville’s six fumbles, at one point launching himself at a Coupeville kickoff receiver like Evel Knievel without the motorcycle, hitting him hard enough to pop the ball loose and recover it in one move. Junior defensive back Ryan Henley recovered two more fumbles and also intercepted a pass, grabbing the ball away from Coupeville’s “Mr. Everything” J.J. Marti, who’s listed as a wide receiver, running back, line backer, kicker and punter.
For whatever reason, the stands were only about half full by 6:30 p.m. when Borderite Bryan Galbraith kicked off into the warm, still and humid evening air, a perfect night for football. Coupeville promptly went four and out despite talented quarterback (and head coach’s son) Mike Bagby’s completing two passes. The Wolves’ fourth down punt rolled to the Blaine 31 yard line and was touched dead.
Blaine’s first play from scrimmage, one the coaches normally share with the offense some time before the game starts, was an explosive and perfectly executed 40-yard pass to wide receiver Joey Paciorek, who drew an audible gasp from the crowd as he sprinted down the sidelines and launched himself at the ball like a border collie after a Frisbee, only to land inches out of bounds.
After the play was called back, a second down Blaine running play went nowhere, and the third down attempt was fumbled and recovered, again for no progress. Blaine had to punt but then the defense began to rise to the task, pushing Coupeville backwards for three straight plays, and at fourth down and 25 the Wolves punted the ball back to Blaine a second time and things began to click for the Borderites.
Goldsby hit Galbraith for 20 yards and then mixed up rushing plays between himself, Hicks and Poitras. The ten-play series culminated in Paciorek’s first of his two touchdown receptions, this one on an eight yard pass.
Blaine kicked off only to have Paez force and recover the receiver’s fumble. Goldsby began the following offensive series the same way by whistling another line drive pass to Galbraith. It went for 39 yards and Blaine’s second touchdown in just 17 seconds.
The second quarter started with a 21-play Blaine scoring drive that was twice interrupted with turnovers, but the Blaine defense got the ball right back both times and Blaine continued marching.
When Goldsby punched the ball into the end zone for Blaine’s third score a frustrated Coupeville defender took his time getting off Goldsby’s chest. Goldsby finally pushed him off, sprang to his feet and bumped chests with Paez, drawing a penalty for celebrating that took the headstrong and inexperienced officiating crew of five several minutes of heated discussion among themselves to sort out.
Coupeville got its lone touchdown on its next offensive possession, passing three times in a row to close within 12 at 19-7. Not to be outdone, Blaine responded by scoring in just two plays, successive passes to sophomore Joey Paciorek that covered 64 yards, and Goldsby added a two point conversion to make the score 27-7 at the half.
The second half saw more rushing plays, mostly by Poitras and Hicks who combined for a total of 117 yards on the ground. Blaine’s play sometimes got a little ragged, perhaps due to the big lead, such as when in the fourth quarter Paciorek, in a momentary and very uncharacteristic lapse, dropped the ball after catching it only five yards from pay dirt. An alert Blayne Brandenburger gathered it in and Blaine retained possession. On the next play fullback Sean Hicks pile-drived in for the final score.
“It was the line play, Carr and Brandenburger and Dudley and the rest, plus guys like Rothwell,” Goldsby said of the win. To get so much offensive yardage means the line and blocking backs protected the backfield as assigned, and Coupeville’s meager 13 yards rushing says something very good as well about the defensive line.
Line play was the major pre-season question mark for Fakkema, who last week said that “Friday night will tell us a lot about this team.” To his satisfaction they played with almost mid-season poise, anchored by two veteran trench fighters, senior Matt Carr and junior Blayne Brandenburger, joined by a group of stubby sophomores who rotated at the two tackles and the other guard.
includes John Dudley, Mike Bird, David Emerick and
Chris Cummins, who at 180 pounds
is the lightweight of these
four. They’re strong, mobile, and when needed
can act like they’re
made of cement.
The crop of freshmen right behind them are even bigger, corn-fed kids like 5-11, 250 pound Bryan Chau, 6-1, 210 pound Cody Dobbs and 6-3, 220 pound Avery Cole, someone that former WSU standout lineman Fakkema literally looks up to. This team, in fact, may have as many as a half dozen or more players who could play college ball when they leave.
In the backfield, the coaching staff’s off-season recruiting efforts to bring players back into the football program paid off, giving them seniors like Rothwell, Paez and Goldsby, who joined veterans from last year’s team like Poitras, Galbraith, Paciorek, Hicks and last year’s durable sophomore quarterback Nick Jordan.
A true team player who deserves special mention, Jordan tenaciously quarterbacked Blaine through some dark meatgrinding hours only to see someone else step in to engineer this first win in almost three years. But Jordan, along with the other returning players, celebrated the win as much as anyone on the team and refused to take anything away from Goldsby’s performance.
One reason is that Goldsby’s crossbow arm and scrambling abilities make him a cut above – way above – anyone else Blaine’s seen in that position for many seasons. Assistant coach Dan DeLong, former standout quarterback at the University of British Columbia and a pro prospect in his own right, helped loosen Goldsby’s arm in a sideline drill that looked like they were playing catch with slingshots.
But it should be pointed out that the main reason there’s a program for these outstanding athletes to return to is because of the character and tenacity this program’s developed in hard-working players like Jordan and in coaches that seem to combine the optimism of nuns with the patience of Job.
Blaine will lose some games this year playing in what’s undoubtedly the most competitive 2-AA league in the state, but they dominated Friday’s game because they’ve been working hard all along. When their chance came they were ready to play completely and as a team, and walked off with a solid win.
Mike Dodd, the stadium voice of the Borderites, rightly made sure everyone knew that toward the end of the game as he publicly congratulated the team on their first win under coach Fakkema to lengthy and well-deserved applause.
Tomorrow, September 10, at home vs. Lynden Christian (0-1) at 7:30 p.m.