In the shadow of last year’s season-ending defeat to Sehome, Blaine found themselves once again facing “win and in” postseason stakes on Thursday, Oct. 27, as they hosted the Mariners for a bit of déjà vu.
Determined not to repeat the past, Mario Gobbato and crew steamrolled their way to a 48-14 victory in another display of offensive punishment.
Gobbato posted his third straight 300+ yard night, going 328 yards on 37 carries and trumping the 2,000 yard season milestone early in the first quarter. He finished the game with six of seven Borderite touchdowns. Games like this are cause for celebration, but Gobbato never forgets to whom he owes these numbers.
“It’s all on my O-line,” Gobbato said. “They play hard every week.”
Blaine head coach Jay Dodd said performances like Gobbato’s are bound to happen, given his talent and Blaine’s rush-heavy offense.
“[Gobbato] is just a great player. We give it to him a lot and he gets a lot of yards,” Dodd said. “And the yards just keep adding up.”
Another factor in Blaine’s success on the ground lies in keeping Gobbato fresh. Last season Gobbato helped fill in a thin secondary line, acting as a two-way starter. It wasn’t until later in the season that Dodd positioned him as an offense-only running back.
“Developing other players and having depth in the secondary allows [Gobbato] to not play defense, so he is able to stay fresh,” Dodd said. “A lot of other people that are tackling him all game long are getting tired while his legs stay a little fresher.”
Blaine established themselves on top from the outset Thursday night, forcing a punt after just three downs and sending Gobbato on a quick three-play touchdown drive to give the Borderites a 7-0 lead.
Sehome would answer with an impressive 71-yard touchdown run by Mariners running back Eric Ho to even the score at 7 apiece, but Blaine’s offense simply could not be contained, posting two additional first-quarter touchdowns en route to a 28-7 halftime lead.
Sehome opened the second half with another spectacular drive, this time off a quarterback keep play that quarterback Austin Rapp worked for 63 yards and a touchdown, making it a two-touchdown game at 28-14.
Blaine once again responded with two additional touchdowns in the third. Following a Gobbato touchdown run, Blaine quarterback Nathan Kramme (4-7-0-110) connected with receiver Andrew Price, who took the ball on a dangerously large lateral cut that paid off miraculously as he stiff-armed a handful of defenders to eventually find the end zone on a 40-yard play.
“I was just hoping I didn’t get caught from behind,” Price laughed. “Luckily I was able to hold the guys off and keep them away. That felt really good.”
Gobbato was pulled with 7 minutes and 40 seconds left of play, but the damage done proved irreconcilable as Blaine walked away with a much needed 48-14 victory.
With a 4-3 Northwest Conference record under their belts, the Borderites now head to Cedarcrest High School to take on the Red Wolves in a bout that will determine who faces Lynden for a slot in the Class 2A Playoffs.
It’s hard to say how Blaine will fare, but Dodd doesn’t see any point in fretting.
“We are who we are,” Dodd said. “We like to run it. We have got some play action off of it now, and our defense is getting better. We had some great downs tonight. We are excited.”