By Ian Ferguson
A few costly mistakes made all the difference for the Borderites in a 41–22 loss on the road at Burlington-Edison.
The Blaine football team lost the Northwest Conference (NWC) matchup October 17, bringing both teams to a matching record of 2–3 in the conference and 4–3 overall.
Blaine played one of its best possession games of the season, dominating the Tigers in terms of offensive production. The Borderites had 20 first downs compared to five for the Tigers, and 396 rushing and passing yards compared to 255 for the Tigers.
Burlington-Edison was able to capitalize on four critical turnovers deep in their own territory. Two of those turnovers came in the form of fumbles that went directly into the hands of speedy Tiger defenders who ran them all the way back for 77-yard and 94-yard touchdowns in the first half.
“That’s a pretty big swing of events when we’re making steady progress going in for a score and they’re able to run a turnover back for a touchdown,” said Blaine head coach Jay Dodd.
Two other fumbles led to a good field position for the Tigers, who again were able to convert those turnovers into touchdowns.
Ball security will be a major theme of practice this week, but Dodd said most of the turnovers were not caused by bad technique.
“The kids were playing hard, and some of those were bad-luck plays that happen in football,” Dodd said.
On defense, Blaine did a good job limiting the run to 95 yards, but the Tigers used a wheel-route pass play to great effect twice – once for a 56-yard touchdown in the first quarter and once for a major gain in the second half.
Blaine coaches decided to pull starting quarterback Nathan Kramme midway through the second quarter because a lingering rib injury was giving him trouble, and backup quarterback Jalen Kortlever stepped in for the rest of the game.
“Jalen [Kortlever] completed a lot of passes and was in control of our huddle and our offense,” Dodd said. “He did a great job stepping up.”
Kortlever threw 5–13 for 51 yards, with a 20-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Ball late in the fourth quarter.
Riley Fristch was Blaine’s biggest producer on offense, rushing for 242 yards and two touchdowns over 40 plays. The game put Fristch over 1,000 yards on the season; his current total of 1,085 yards is good enough for sixth in the state.
“We ran the ball quite a bit. Riley [Fritsch] had a great game, and Kier [Munzanreder] and Layton [Hagee] had some carries in the fourth quarter,” Dodd said.
Dodd said despite the loss and the costly mistakes, the Borderites did a lot of things right.
“I think we did a great job defensively. For the most part we held their running game down, and we caused two turnovers in the second half,” he said. “I was impressed with the way our kids kept battling. They worked their tails off.”
Looking ahead, Blaine has an important home game against Squalicum for their senior night on Friday, October 24. A win over the Mariners (3–2 NWC, 5–2 overall) is key to seeding for the postseason.
“Squalicum has a great passing game, with the league’s leading quarterback and wide receiver,” Dodd said. “We’re working on getting to their quarterback and on our pass coverage.”
The game begins at 7 p.m.
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