With a spot in a higher conference, football team will look to prove they belong

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Faced with a choice in the off-season of whether to move up to the 2A Northwest “Sky” division or stick with the lower “lake” division, Blaine Borderites’ seniors didn’t need to think long – they wanted to move up.

“I wanted to, personally, just because I want to play the teams that are in our region – Lynden and Burlington – that are supposed to be good,” said senior lineman Gavino Rodriguez. “We want to experience that atmosphere.”

Being in the Sky division means Blaine is guaranteed a first-round district playoff game, but it also means it plays tougher teams all season long. 

“All the seniors wanted to move up a division. That told me what kind of team we’d have this year,” said head coach Jay Dodd. “Their instant response was ‘Yeah, let’s do it.’ That was refreshing to hear, that they really wanted to go up and compete at the highest level.”

Last year in the lake division, Blaine had a 2–3 record in league games and a 5–5 record overall. With a strong senior class and a returning quarterback, the Borderites could be able to hang with the top teams this year.

Rodriguez expects defense to be a strength for the team, and with big seniors on both the offense and defense line, the Borderites have a solid foundation. Rodriguez and senior Wyatt Cole will be critical to both lines – both were first team all-conference players in 2018.

“Our line will be bigger and stronger. I bet our offensive line could average over 230 pounds,” Dodd said.

On offense, running back Oscar Caridad will likely be Blaine’s go-to to start the season. The small and fast senior had a lot of experience over the past two years. Seniors Chris Ruback and Robbie Parker will join him in the position.

Junior Will McKinney is back at quarterback. Last year, his first starting on varsity, he proved to be a smart player who knows how to work the clock and think on his feet. Over the offseason he gained 25 pounds and a few inches and he’s making faster, lower passes. 

“He can throw the ball with more velocity and accuracy,” Dodd said. “He’s a-night-and-day different quarterback than last year and he wasn’t a bad one last year either, so we’re really excited to have him back.”

McKinney will aim his passes toward a new batch of receivers. The Borderites have a lot of possibilities for the position, including seniors Zane Rector, Abhi Grewal, Kavika Hee, Dakota George and sophomore Scott Baldwin.

Baldwin is the only receiver with any varsity experience in the position. Though the receiver group lacks experience, Dodd and Rodriguez both are hopeful about the team’s options.

“I think we have some chemistry going on with a couple of the guys, for sure,” Rodriguez said.

The Borderites’ season starts at 7 p.m. on Friday, September 6, at home against Chief Sealth International High School, from Seattle.

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