Inside the ten-yard line, with seconds left on the clock, sophomore quarterback Nate Kramme took a knee as soon as the ball was snapped.
He let the time run out and held his team’s scoring at bay as they hovered on the edge of a domineering 50-20 victory against the Cedar Park Christian Eagles in Bothell on Friday, November 2.
“We were just trying to get the game over with to start celebrating,” Kramme said. “Our team got the win, and we showcased the most dominant running back in the league, and now the state.”
Senior running back Mario Gobbato had been pulled from the formation a few minutes earlier to the roar of the crowd.
He had not only broken the state single-season rushing record for 11-man football, but also the single-season game rushing record in the non-conference crossover game.
“On Wednesday, I asked the team how they wanted to play it,” said head coach Jay Dodd. “Did they want a balance attack? Did they want to try a variety of formations and trick plays?” They voted to let the mostly senior offensive line (consisting of James Fakkema, Palmer Sandel, Dwayne Ortega, Miguel Ramos and sophomore Jon Fakkema) go to work and block for Gobbato. They also wanted to win this game for injured seniors Cody Peura and Christian Hardt.
And go to work they did, effectively opening up the field for the talented tailback to burn yards and set a new single-game rushing record.
Running for 480 yards he eclipsed the old mark of 471 yards set by Danny Wilm of Steilacoom High School in 2003.
Gobbato also set a new single-season rushing record of 2,821 yards, demolishing Interlake’s Jordan Todd’s record of 2,681 (rushing yards) by 140 yards.
“These records are really special when you think that there are almost 400 high schools in the state that have some of them playing football back a hundred years ago,” Dodd said. “We have the most successful running back right here in Blaine.”
James Fakkema is an athletic and fit 6'3", 235-pound tough lineman. He is also an emotional player who gives his all. When asked if the tears in his eyes were tears of joy he remarked, “I cannot believe we did it.”
“The whole line dedicated themselves to open holes for Mario,” Fakkema said. “There were games this year he carried us. Our all-out effort tonight was for him. He is the best back in the state. First, we wanted to win. Second, we wanted to get Mario the record. Third, we wanted to win for the coaches and get the record for the community. It should bring pride to the Borderites’ community.”
Gobbato ran 57 times and averaged about nine yards a carry.
“I am sure I got tired out there. I was taking a lot of hits, but I think I went into a zone and I did not even feel it,” Gobbato said. “I did not know how many yards I had, I was just going to put in a day’s work until they pulled me. When they took me out I could tell by the coach’s smile and greeting that I had made it.”
While the linemen thanked Gobbato, he in turned praised the offensive line. “This was a team win first,” Gobbato said. “Then I would like to acknowledge the coaches and players who worked so hard designing and executing plays that would open running lanes for me.”
Twenty carries for 100 yards is considered a day’s work for most running backs. “When I was told I had 57 carries for over 480 yards (high school statistics), I was just amazed,” Gobbato said. “I am still pumped – I could go back out there and keep going. Getting the record has not set in yet”
“It took a lot of effort to achieve these records,” Dodd said. “The fans who made the one-way, two-hour trip were rewarded, but also should be acknowledged. But most of all the players, assistant coaches and staff should be commended for the effort they put in this last game.”
Recap of the game
The Cedar Park Christian Eagles scored first on a 42-yard Dan Watts touchdown run. Borderites 0, Eagles 6.
In Blaine’s first possession: Blaine started on their 20-yard line. Gobbato ran eight times for 80 yards and a touchdown. The two-point run was good, bumping Blaine to lead 8-6.
The Eagles came right back with a 41-yard drive capped off with a one-yard plunge by Steven Hunsaker. Eagles took back
the lead, 12-8.
From this point, Blaine went on a 42-unanswered point run.
In Blaine’s second possession, the Borderites started on their own 20-yard line. Gobbato powerd through, gaining eight runs for 69 yards, taking the ball to the Eagle’s 6-yard line.
The first quarter ended with Gobbato gaining 149 yards.
From the one-yard line, Gobbato carried it in for the touchdown. The big offensive linemen took turns running and carrying the extra point conversions. Blaine led 16-12.
Starting from their 42-yard line, Gobbato ran seven times for 50 more yards and a Blaine touchdown.
He had already run for 200 yards and three touchdowns early in the second period. Blaine led 22-12.
After Cole Muder intercepted a pass,t Blaine started from the Eagle 31-yard line. Following the turnover, Gobbato carried four times to notch 31 more yards on his belt, and scored his fourth touchdown to increase the Borderites lead, 28-12.
Still powering through, Gobbato had one touch for three yards, ending the first half by amassing 239 yards.
With the Borderites back on their own 20-yard line, Gobbato came out on fire and had one of his best series running, with eight plays for 80 yards and his fifth touchdown. Blaine pulled away, 34-12.
After a big defensive stop as Fakkema sacked the Eagle quarterback for a loss on fourth down, the Borderites staked their claim on their 44-yard line, blocking hard so that Gobbato could garner 56 yards and his sixth touchdown in five plays. He finished the third quarter with 424 yards and victory in sight. Blaine was in total control, 42-12.
Starting on their 39-yard line, the Borderites continued to take advantage of Gobbato’s speed.
He ran eight times for 56 yards, taking the ball to the five-yard line, before reaching his record-setting total of 480 yards for the game.
With the goal complete, Coach Dodd then turned tack, and used Gobbato as a decoy.
Kramme threw to tight end Tas Scanlan for the touchdown against the shocked Eagle defense. Caleb Johnson caught the two-point conversion pass from Kramme.
And while the Eagles scored another touchdown it was too little too late, with the final score capping at 50-20.
Gobbato’s four-year career rushing yards of 5,958 made him the fifth best career Washington State rusher. A perfect way to end a season.
“I am proud of Gobbato, but I am just as proud of my team’s effort Friday night after their heart-breaking loss last Tuesday,” Dodd said.
“I am appreciative of the four years I got with these seniors – I do not want the season to end.”