The situation is not dissimilar. Seattle Mariners’ pitching ace Felix Hernandez led the American League in almost every important category except the one that will keep him from winning the Cy Young Award this year.
While he is shutting down his opponents, the Mariners’ offense was setting records for scoring futility, quite likely leaving their ace without the much deserved award.
The Blaine Borderite football team is starting to feel Hernandez’s pain. For the fourth consecutive week, a gaseous Borderite defense gave up more than 40 points, while the offense failed to score on two early drives and turned the ball over twice in the third quarter, leaving them to play fourth quarter catch-up.
While the offense again outgained an opponent with its potent attack, the result was yet another frustrating loss, as state ranked and undefeated Burlington-Edison survived a furious rally to defeat Blaine 41-32 at Kirkby Field on October 8.
Despite a 14-13 halftime lead, dreams of a stunning upset over the Tigers were evaporated quickly by two third quarter turnovers and an inability by the Borderites to get defensive stops. Burlington scored 28 points in just under four minutes on three rushing touchdowns and a dagger in the heart, 52-yard touchdown pass from Dylan Boe to Jammarick Cavitt to make the score 34-14. Once again, lack of tackling was at the heart of Blaine head football coach Jay Dodd’s concerns.
“We did a much better job of understanding where we fit on every run play,” said Dodd in an email, “(but) we need to continue to work better on open field tackling. We made some changes in personnel, but not much. Our players played their tails off.”
In a game statistically dominated by Blaine, down 41-14 at the beginning of the fourth quarter, even the frenzied rally seemed anti-climactic and futile, as the Borderite’s three touchdowns in the stanza still left them nine points short. The offense could have made the rally more compelling if in the first quarter they had converted two masterful opening drives into points, but Todd Bird missed two field goal attempts, as well as an extra point.
“At the end of those drives, some of the plays weren’t executed,” coach Dodd said, “but some of those plays were bad calls. That’s football. Some drives aren’t finished.”
The revelation for the Borderites (1-4, 0-4 in the Northwest conference) continues to be the play of senior quarterback Sean Allen. Against the Tigers, he had the best game of his career thus far, going 16 for 31, 328 yards, four touchdown passes against two interceptions. Over halfway through the season, Allen is on pace to rewrite passing record books locally.
His 13 touchdown passes and 1,336 yards passing leads his other conference peers including the much lauded Josh Kraght at Lynden.
Indeed, offensively, all facets of the Borderite attack shined. Mario Gobboto rushed for more than 100 yards, highlighted by an 80-yard touchdown burst that gave Blaine a 14-10 lead in the second quarter. Wide receivers Bird and Andrew Miller each caught more than 100 yards worth of receptions, with Miller hauling in three of Allen’s touchdown receptions. Andrew Price chipped in with four receptions and a TD.
While the Borderites’ offense can be the stuff of defensive coordinator nightmares, the young Blaine defense continues to struggle.
“Our tackling needs to improve. We missed quite a few tackles on Friday,” Dodd said, “we do have lots of juniors and sophomores playing defense, but they are expected to execute our defense and make the tackles that they are asked to make. These players need to perform no matter how old they are. If we talk about age, we are making excuses.”