by Jack Kintner
Borderite’s season ends early with 27-7 loss
Blaine’s remarkable 2007 season ended prematurely with a 27-7 loss to Fife in the first round of the state football tournament last week at a neutral field in Sumner.
The game was played in a driving rain that produced plenty of miscues and turnovers as well as a chance to play the fastest running back Blaine’s ever faced, the small but lightning quick Taylor Cardin.
He was everywhere, like an irritating bug, and in the end he stung the Borderites repeatedly.
In the beginning it looked like Blaine would continue the dominating style they showed last week against Cedarcrest, perhaps their best game of the season, when they recovered Fife quarterback Alex Clement’s first play fumble on the Fife 16 yard line.
Ben Bohnson then ran it 10 yards to the six for a first and goal, but Blaine fumbled twice in the next four plays, the second with the ball literally inches from the goal line.
Fife recovered the second fumble on its own four and then worked the ball up the field to the 21, where Cardin found a lane and turned on the jets for a 79-yard touchdown run and a 7-0 lead.
Ben Bohnson, not to be outdone, took the ensuing kickoff and threaded his way 92 yards for a touchdown of his own and a tie score at 7-7.
On the next kickoff Cardin returned the ball to the Blaine 45 before being gang tackled. He carried the ball five times out of the of the next 12 plays in the drive but was kept out of the end zone by one of Blaine’s better defensive performances this year.
On the last two plays Blaine defender Freddy Johncox first stymied a Fife pass from the shotgun and then Big Cole Avery stopped Cardin like a bug on a windshield for no gain on a fourth and goal from the 8.
Blaine took over and generated a nine-play drive that stalled at midfield. After a very nice Patrick Mulholland punt that went for a touchback, Cardin ran for 66 yards on Fife’s first play from their own 20 to the Blaine 14, setting up their second touchdown.
Blaine’s next possession was kept alive on sheer guts by Bohnson and McCabe as the rain began to roar down on the artificial turf in Biblical proportions, both running backs getting first down yardage on key third and long situations.
But with a second and seven on the Fife 40 Cardin streaked through the Blaine defense from his safety position and tackled Casey McCabe for a four-yard loss in the Blaine backfield. Blaine gave up the ball with a punt and the half ended with Fife up by seven points.
Blaine senior Alex Bresnan dominated Blaine’s opening series in the third quarter, returning the kick-off to the 41 and then, faced with a first and 25 after Blaine was called for a personal foul, catching a pass on the Fife three yard line.
With a first and goal series for the second time, Bohnson and then McCabe got stopped cold off tackle, but on third and goal at the three Bohnson just nicked into the front corner of the end zone to tie the game. Or so he thought.
Officials, however, never signaled a touchdown, later claiming that Bohnson had been pushed out of bounds before crossing the goal. In frustration Bohnson softly spiked the ball, earning an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty from the same ref that blew the touchdown call.
The penalty moved Blaine back to the Fife 22, where Patrick Mulholland’s field goal attempt was blocked.
Fife took over briefly, and then Blaine moved from its own nine to the Fife 25 in a 17-play Russian novel kind of long and convoluted offensive series that was saved at one point when officials called Fife for an early hit on intended receiver Shane Hicks, nullifying a turnover by interception.
Cardin then took over, taking a screen pass 75 yards for a touchdown, intercepting Gorze to stop Blaine’s next series, and scoring again on a fourth and 20 with a 35-yard run late in the fourth quarter.
Though the game was a lot closer than the score indicates, Blaine’s running game was slowed, if not stopped altogether, as McCabe and Bohnson garnered only 145 total rushing yards, well shy of the team’s 216-yard season average.
“It was good experience for Blaine, especially to see an individual with the skill and speed Cardin threw at us,” said head coach Jay Dodd, who in his second year has taken the Borderites farther in post-season play than they’ve been in nine prior seasons. “They’ve gotten a good taste of post-season play, and they’ll want to be back,” he said.
Blaine ends the season
with a respectable 7-4 record, good enough for third place
in league play and a state tournament appearance.
Blaine coach optimistic
Blaine head football coach Jay Dodd is optimistic about next year despite losing 25 seniors off this year’s much improved 7-4 team that returned to the state tournament after a nine-year absence.
Returning starters and others with solid varsity experience include quarterback Daniel Gorze, wide receivers Jacob Rogers, Trevor Chau, running backs Casey McCabe, David Craig and Shane Moore.
From a family that must have invented the word tough, there’s even another in the seemingly inexhaustible supply of Hicks boys as running back Shaffer steps in for departing brother Shane.
Dodd described Blaine’s final game with Fife last weekend as a good learning experience despite the result.
“Our younger guys saw how the older varsity guys handled the long trip south and being in [the state tournament], all uncharted territory.
“That helps them get ready for the next step, and helps their motivation to want to get back to state,” he said, “because winning is one thing but knowing how to win is another. It’s a learned skill, like blocking and tackling, and takes time and experience to develop.”
The annual team dinner is being planned “probably for sometime during the week after Thanksgiving,” Dodd said.
For the week of November 15