It’s been a little more than a week since the Borderites concluded their season, making it the perfect time to sit back with some sweet rolls and a cup of coffee and discuss how things went with head coach Jay Dodd.
The Borderites got off to a fast start, easily winning their first two games against teams from across the border (New Westminster and Terry Fox). “The Canadian teams are getting better but not up to Northwest Conference level. Our first real test came September 14 against Lakewood,” Dodd said.
Looking back, Blaine played extremely well against the bigger 2A school. The Borderites came from behind and tied #2 ranked Lakewood, only to have the two-point conversion play overturned. Photos later showed it was good, but the game was over. It was the last play of the game and Blaine did not have any further chances. The Borderites, now sensing they could play against anyone, went on a four-game winning streak.
On September 21, the Borderites bounced right back against another bigger school, Bellingham, 36-28 at Civic Field. Next on September 28, Blaine delighted the homecoming crowd by beating Lynden Christian 30-0. Mario Gobbato broke the Whatcom County career rushing record at this game.
On October 5, the Borderites boarded a ferry at Anacortes for the San Juan Islands, finding port and competition at Friday Harbor. The Islanders proved to be a worthy challenge. In a hard fought game, Cole Muder’s 96-yard fumble recovery saved the day for Blaine’s 26-19 win. Blaine’s record was now five wins and only one loss. They rose to as high as #5 in various high school AP ranking services in 1A classification.
October 12 saw a faceoff against state football powerhouse, Meridian. James Fakkema’s big hit on a late-in-the-game goal line stand, saved the 34-27 win for Blaine. Blaine’s record stood at 6-0 until they ran into undefeated Mount Baker.
“We were tied with them, and the real season came down to us playing Mount Baker for the league lead,” Dodd reflected. On a night the Borderites needed to bring their “A” game, nothing seemed to go right. They lost 38-14, shattering their dreams of an outright 1A championship.
“We were all disappointed in the way we performed, but I do not dwell on that,” Dodd said. “I choose to think about all the areas in which we improved. There are so many accomplishments this year to think about and accentuate the positive.”
The sting of that loss prevailed into the October 26 game against Nooksack Valley. The Borderites were upset at Pioneer Field, and lost to an improving Nooksack team 34-28.
Thus, the Borderites found themselves in a three-way tie for second place. They beat Meridian in a Kansas tie-breaker game. Meridian went on to play and beat Nooksack; so on Halloween eve, the Borderites played Meridian again in a half game.
In sports, there is a truism that says it is hard for any team to beat another three times in a row. That is because the loser tends to learn more. In a heartbreaking last second loss, the Borderites went down 15-14.
“I do not think it was only that”, Dodd said. “I think it had to do with only playing a half game. I believe that if we played a full game, we would have beat them. That would have given us time to make halftime adjustments.”
The Borderites final football game was a non-conference crossover game. The Borderites saved their best game for last. The team, and especially the seniors, got out any pent up frustrations they had left by destroying the good Cedar Park Christian team, 50-20. The Borderites gained more than 523 yards, with Mario Gobbato gaining 480 himself. Gobatto set a single-game rushing record and a single-season rushing record of 2,821 yards.
“The most productive running back for the state now comes out of Blaine,” Dodd said. “The senior class won seven games – that is something that has not been achieved since 2009.”
Dodd said he was happy with a seven-win season. “Of course I am disappointed we did not get into the state playoffs, but I’m satisfied with how much we improved,” he said. “We developed into a strong line on both sides of the ball. We showed the most improvement at quarterback and the secondary.”
What are his plans for next year? “This year we were big and could run the ball from the power I formation,” he said. “On offense next year, we will use the shot gun formation. The quarterback will receive the ball three yards behind the center rather than taking a direct snap. From there our quarterback will run the option. We will take advantage of Nate Kramme’s running ability. He will also have the option to run or pass. We have Cole Muder back to run the ball, and we have a good set of wide outs. Defensively we will be smaller next year. We will move Jon Fakkema from center to tackle. Our junior varsity will fill the other spots. They are smaller, but our young guys are quick, and I expect they will fly around and swarm to the ball. I feel good about the young guys who will be moving up. And who knows, maybe they will grow a lot between now and next fall.”