Photo by Janell Kortlever
With the warm, late-summer air lingering and the sky lit up with the Friday night lights, Mario Gobbato is turning heads with his record-setting performances.
“All he cares about is getting the Borderites a winning record,” head coach Jay Dodd said. “A league championship, getting into the state playoffs and maybe a few records may come with that.” The reflection in Dodd’s voice shows that team success comes first: There is no “I” in team, but there is an “I” in win.
For the second week in a row Gobbato has led his team offensively. After rushing for 217 yards in last week’s opening game win, Gobbato outdid himself by flying through the Terry Fox High School (B.C.) Ravens’ defense for 291 yards on 22 carries on Friday, September 7, at Blaine High School.
Gobbato was all over the field in the first half, with 213 yards on 15 carries and three touchdowns. His third touchdown came as he ran for two tough yards as he faked up the middle then bounced outside of the tackle and went into the end zone untouched as the first half ending siren filled the air. Gobbato’s run followed quarterback Nate Kramme’s 12-yard run around right end from the Ravens’ 14-yard line. Kramme left his feet from the five and dove for the end zone, but came up two yards short. Fortunately, he was smart enough to dive out of bounds, stopping the clock. Gobatto needed just two seconds to punch it in and give the Borderites a commanding 32-8 halftime lead.
The first half started with Ravens quarterback Trevor Casey moving their offense down the field through the air. Casey hit a 40-yard wheel route to his running back, who slipped out of the backfield and scampered 40 yards downfield. It was Blaine’s speedy outside linebacker Caleb Johnson who saved the day. Showing great hustle, the senior caught the Fox receiver from behind and prevented a touchdown.
On the next play Blaine defensive lineman James Fakkema (6'3'', 230 lb.) recovered a fumble to stop the drive about halfway through the first quarter.
The Blaine defense did shine.
“We want to improve the defense this year over last year. We [the defensive line] have all worked hard in the weight room,” Fakkema said. “I personally have worked on my footwork by doing agility drills. I have increased my rushing technique by concentrating on dipping my shoulder more on swim moves to get by the offensive lineman and rush the quarterback or tackle the runner.”
Fakkema’s upper body strength helped him strip the ball away from two Fox ball carriers as he recovered two fumbles in the game.
These two turnovers plus an interception stopped three Raven first-half drives. Defensive back Isaiah Jackson made a leaping interception at the Blaine 20-yard line. These three turnovers were the difference in the first half and allowed Blaine to take a 38-8 lead into the locker room.
The 5'10'', 170 lb. Jackson bounded high into the night to snag a ball from a Raven receiver and a sure touchdown for the visitors. “My dad is a defensive back coach for the B.C. Lions football team and he has shown me a few moves, as have my coaches,” Jackson said. “I don’t know what my vertical leap is, but my 40-yard dash time is in the mid-4 seconds. I was timed at a football camp in Oregon this summer.”
“The defense made the most improvement from last year and game one to this game. Those three defensive turnovers were huge,” Dodd said. “Last year we could move the ball offensively but we couldn’t stop anyone. I am really happy that the hard work the defense has put in is paying off. They [Fox] have a quarterback who has a cannon for an arm and a couple of good receivers. We showed we could hold our own with them.”
Blaine’s defense should be proud that they only gave up 21 points, with 13 of those coming late in the fourth quarter against the team’s reserves. For the two-game season, they have surrendered only 37 points while scoring 94 points.
On the other side of the ball the offense started rolling in the first quarter as sophomore Kramme was a factor too. He completed his first six passes and was nine for 13 for 63 passing yards in the first half. He finished the game with 11 completions for 81 yards, two passing touchdowns with zero interceptions.
“We were able to throw more this week,” Kramme said. “Twenty times versus just five times last week. Coach Dodd opened up the playbook.”
On Blaine’s opening drive, Gobbato ran 40 yards the first time he touched the ball. Then with everyone keying on Kramme, he passed to Jackson. The tone was set with Gobbato running and Kramme mixing it up by throwing Dink and Dunk short hitch passes into the flat.
Fox responded by switching their defense into a cover two scheme, bringing their corners up to cover the flat. Not to be outsmarted, Dodd called for 5' 11'', 170 lb. senior wide receiver Brett Allen to run a double move route. First he went down and faked a buttonhook then did a quick fade to the corner. This double move against the Raven secondary left him wide open in the end zone where Kramme found him with a perfect spiral for the score. By this point, Kramme had thrown four straight completed passes and an eight to zero lead at the 4:12 mark of the first period.
“We are developing a passing attack,” said the sure-handed, great route running Brett Allen. “We did not have a great passing attack last year – we relied on Gobbato too much.” After last season, they decided to do something about it.
“Jackson, Kramme and I ran routes over and over again on Tuesdays and Thursdays, sometimes outside, sometimes in the gym,” Allen said. “This helped Kramme as well as the receivers develop confidence and trust as we got to know each other.” Allen was beaming as I interviewed him. He must have known he was the leading receiver with six receptions for 48 yards and one touchdown. Jackson finished with three receptions.
“The receivers have definitely developed,” Dodd said. “We threw the ball 21 times tonight, and we will throw as much as our pass protection will allow us. This will give Gobbato a breather and keep him fresh for later in the game. A passing attack will also open the running lanes for longer runs for the backs.”
“Of course when you have such a gifted runner, such as Gabbato, you want to feature him,” Dodd said. “But we do not want to become too predictable or wear him out. Gobbato is not real big, only 159 lbs., but he is really strong and quick. He can squat 400 lbs. and bench press 225 lbs.”
After three quarters and a 38-8 lead, juniors Cole Muder and Brian Ferrer took over at running back. They did a nice job, with Muder gaining 24 yards on three rushes. Sophomore Marcus Potts spelled Kramme and directed the offense like a much older field general. Potts hit sophomore Rudy Nolasco with a quick pass into the Raven secondary. It was good to get the young ones some live game experience.