For Blaine football, the choice to play in the more difficult Sky Division rather than the lower Lake Division this year was partly a decision that improving as a football team is more important than winning games.
Though the Borderites have struggled through the season and didn’t score a touchdown in four of the past six games, their second-to-last game showed that they’re learning to compete against the region’s best teams.
Blaine lost 34–16 at home on October 18, but had its best showing on offense yet. The Borderites earned nearly 300 yards of total offense against Lakewood, a team that’s tied for first in the Sky Division with a 6–1 overall record.
Blaine’s offensive line allowed running back Oscar Caridad to rush for 220 yards on 39 attempts, an average of 5.6 yards per carry. On top of that, the Borderites had success with their short passing game; quarterback Will McKinney completed six passes to Zane Rector, including a touchdown in the first quarter and a two-point conversion after that. McKinney scored Blaine’s second touchdown on a 14-yard quarterback keeper in the third quarter.
“I thought we played our best game of the year on offense on Friday night,” Blaine head coach Jay Dodd said. “Our offensive line had its best game of the year by far.”
Blaine came out playing to win, starting with a surprise onside kick by Preston King that Ian Dickinson recovered.
Lakewood scored first, on a five-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, but Blaine scored on its next possession and then made the two-point conversion to take the lead 8–7.
“We just wanted to have some fun and set the tone. We wanted to create some excitement,” Dodd said about the Borderites’ aggressive first quarter.
The Borderites brought more excitement to the game with a fake punt in the third quarter. Blaine lined up for a punt, but back up quarterback Cole Thomas received the snap and made a 23-yard pass to Jaxon Kortlever for a first down. Kortlever had two receptions for 29 yards total.
By then, though, the game had gotten away from Blaine. The Borderites made four turnovers, including two interceptions.
“I think overall defense played pretty well for the situation they were put in; offensively we executed pretty well, but it didn’t go our way for turnovers,” McKinney said after the game.
On defense, Blaine effectively stopped Lakewood’s basic passing and running game, but was surprised by a few trick plays.
“They scored on three trick plays, where I think our eyes weren’t reading what they should have been reading,” Dodd said. “One was a double pass, and in two others they created a lot of attention by motioning a running back out of the backfield, drawing the eyes of our safety, and then sneaking a slot receiver right by us. Those are things we can improve on and get better.”
After the loss, Blaine’s record is 1–6, and 0–4 in conference games. Despite the losing record, both McKinney and Dodd still feel good about the decision to play in the higher Sky League.
“We enjoy coming out and playing schools that are twice the size of ours,” McKinney said. “Lakewood is number one in the Sky League. We played them well, so I think that shows we can compete with anyone.”
Next Blaine travels to Lynden (5–2) for the final regular season game at 7 p.m. on October 25. Regardless of the outcome, the Borderites will play in a first round, loser-out playoff game at home on Friday, November 1.
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