Sports -- October 21, 2004

Published on Thu, Oct 21, 2004
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SPORTS
by Jack Kintner

Lyncs prove tough gridiron competitors

Two weeks ago when Blaine was handing Granite Falls their hat 33-13, Lynden Christian was managing to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by losing to Nooksack 14-8 on the last play of the game. Last week, though, the Lyncs took out their frustrations on the Borderites at home with a 14-6 win.

Blaine 33 Granite Falls 13
Unleashing their potent offensive potential for the second time this season, Blaine pummeled the Tigers at rain-soaked Hi Jewell Field in Granite Falls October 8 to even their over-all season record at 3-3.
The rain that has hampered Blaine before seemed not to be a factor. Blaine received the opening kick-off and began play at their own 20 with an almost comic circus play that saw the ball change hands several times before Matt Christion flipped it to a hustling Doug Goldsby for an 80-yard touchdown. Soccer standout Luke Baldwin added the extra point for a 7-0 lead.

Blaine added two more in the first half on Goldsby’s 13-yard romp and on his 45-yard pass to Joey Paciorek running a go route, straight up the sidelines to the end zone. Blaine put the game away in the fourth quarter with Goldsby’s third touchdown and a 40-yard ramble by bruising senior fullback Sean Hicks.

“We’re more concerned with meeting our goals for a particular game,” a pleased head coach Dave Fakkema said, “than whether we win or not, because we’re building a program, and there’s always something to learn.”

The Borderites accomplished a number of those goals, one of which was to have a 100-yard rusher for the game, a feat accomplished by junior running back Mike Poitras in racking up 108 yards in 26 attempts. Another was to get at least three turnovers, which they did by recovering two fumbles and getting an interception by Matt Christion, who also tallied a touchdown pass and a 30-yard reception for the night.
Defensively the Borderites contained what has been an outstanding Granite Falls ground game led by their compact (5'6" 160-lb) all-state running back senior Kyle Nelson, who already has over 1,200 yards rushing this season. The Borderites effectively clogged the middle and closed the outside for almost all of the game, though on one occasion in the third quarter Nelson got loose for a 45-yard touchdown.

The extraordinary defensive performance brought kudos even from the other side of the field as after the game Granite Falls coach Eric Dinwiddie called Blaine a “disciplined and impressive team that outmatched us man for man.”

The game shows how Fakkema’s approach has begun to bear fruit. Blaine began the season without a lot of depth on the line and has since lost three starters, one an all-league guard. Another likely candidate for post-season honors, tackle Matt Bird, was lost for the season when he broke his leg against Mt. Baker on October 2. He played on the so-called “weak” side of the line, away from the side that tight end Craig Rothwell would be on depending upon the formation and a place where a coach would normally put one of his best athletes. When he was injured it fell to backup sophomore Nick Murphy to fill in. Fakkema shifted sophomore John Dudley from guard to right tackle and put in the hardworking but so far unsung Murphy into Dudley’s former starting role at right guard on offense.

Offensively the starting combo jelled that night - senior tight end Craig Rothwell who’s having a stellar rookie year, steadfast junior center Blayne Brandenburger at one of the toughest positions to play, junior Corey Smith at left guard, and tough if young sophomores John Dudley, now at right tackle, Chris Cummins at left tackle and Murphy, the newly minted starting right guard.

“Backup is a tough role to fill,” said Fakkema, “because these guys have to do all the work and learn all the plays and then wait until their turn comes. When it does, they have to be ready, and Murphy was. He’s coming along fine, and the next two weeks will tell the story.”
Blaine 6, Lynden Christian 14

Blaine’s league-leading pass receiver Joey Paciorek was the focus for LC’s practice as his performance thus far has intimidated every other team in the league. LC used a combination of bumping Paciorek at the line with double and triple team defensive zones to help out LC safety Zach Deboer (an inch taller but 50 pounds lighter) contain him, and he still managed 36 yards on two receptions while wearing a thumb brace on a chronically sore hand.

Renegade linebacker Tim Martin, a Blaine resident who attends LC, played inspired defense against Borderite plays up the gut, though reliable Mike Poitras and the senior fireplug Sean Hicks combined for 107 yards rushing pretty much right at Martin all evening.

Blaine’s best chance to tie the game came in the second half when Sean Hicks plunged in for a hard-fought touchdown around the right side only to have the head linesman place the ball on the one. Two of Blaine’s six penalties on the evening (as opposed for just two for the home team) moved them back and on their last chance a sure first down on an unusual Goldsby off-tackle rush up the middle turned out to be short, so short in fact that the referee decided a measurement was unnecessary despite much helpful advice lustily offered from the partisan sidelines.

Blaine out-hustled LC all night, passing for more yards, fumbling less and getting more first downs. But as in their first meeting, LC was notoriously unforgiving of Borderite mistakes.

Friday night’s homecoming bash against Nooksack will be a barn-burner, the best game played here in several years, the culmination of a lot of dedicated work and effort by some kids that deserve to see you there.

Borderites persevere against Nooksack Valley to win shootout

Blaine 1, Lynden Christian 2
In a bruising physical battle Lynden Christian once again took the measure of the Borderites on the Lync’s lumpy and narrow home field 1-2 last Thursday afternoon. But as opposed to the blow-out suffered the last time the two teams met, Blaine nearly pulled off the second upset of the season that would have matched their four-goal shut-out earlier of Meridian.

Blaine led much of the first half on Mackenzie Nix’s breakaway 10-minute goal, her older sister Ainsley holding LC’s Julie Bratt at bay until the closing seconds of the first period when she fired a pass to team mate Stephanie Deboer who tipped it past Blaine keeper Alyssa Makalai.
In the 66th minute the highly skilled and lanky Bratt, whose style is mostly elbows, knees and speed, juked her way around Katie Jordan for the winning goal from point blank range.

That’s not to detract from what was undoubtedly Makalai’s best performance in goal this year, stretching to block several shots in the first half and knocking several close shots out of the crease in the second. At one point she faced down Lynden’s Jaqui Hendrickson point blank in a penalty kick, where it’s one-on-one, kicker on the keep and no help from anyone for either player.

With eyes locked on the lanky pony-tailed LC senior Makalai caught the ball squarely in her gut. It rebounded out weakly to the left and she half crawled, half jumped to cover it as Hendrickson came skating through the mud for the follow-up shot that was never to be.

Her sister Alyssa, one of Blaine’s chief scoring threats, was shadowed strongly all afternoon by LC defenders who definitely outweighed her. Nonetheless, she showed her grit and kept the offense moving forward all day.

Sophomore Kailey Walter, whose game has improved markedly over the season thus far, showed more energy at the end of the game than the beginning. Disappointed with the close loss, she said calmly but intently afterwards that “We’ll come back from this. We’re better than that.”

Blaine 1, Nooksack Valley 0
With Andrea Harmening healthy and back in the midfield, Blaine returned to full strength and wrestled a tough Nooksack squad to a scoreless tie in regulation play and through ten minutes of overtime Tuesday at the Pipe. Once to the shoot-out, Alyssa Makalai rose to the occasion and, stretched like a rubber band, blocked two shots to her left to win the shoot-out 5-3 and the game 1-0.

Makalai’s play is improving at precisely the right moment. Blaine’s last home soccer game is this afternoon at 4:30 at the Pipe against Mt. Baker, a team they defeated 2-0 earlier this month. Next week they go up against Meridian before district playoffs in Mount Vernon beginning October 30 through the first week in November.