Sports -- October 26, 2006

Published on Thu, Oct 26, 2006
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by Jack Kintner

Orange qualifies for post-season play

A brief but effective halftime talk from head coach Jay Dodd helped take the Borderites from doormat to dominator last Friday night as they scored five second-half touchdowns to level the Mt. Baker Mountaineers 42-34 and all but secure a post-season berth for the first time in eight seasons. The fourth quarter even had a few pops.

That comes from the pads players wear. They audibly pop if they’re hit hard enough, and it’s said that you hear that unmistakable sound of energetic play maybe once a season in high school, once a game in college and every play in the pros.

Adam Dykstra, playing defense, stonewalled a Mountie wide receiver in the fourth quarter like a tree trunk stopping a snowball just as he caught a pass from Baker QB Jon Raney. Tygr Cain joined in quickly followed by Shane Hicks flying straight and level about four feet off the ground like a cruise missile.

The impact brought out a loud pop and the boys fell to the ground as limp as half-eaten french fries. A hush fell on the crowd as one distraught father broke through the spectator tape. He went a few steps on to the field, yelling “that’s my boy!”

But after a few seconds of letting the birdies tweet, the players got up, shook off the collision and kept going. The dad walked back to his seat and nudged a friend with a proud “Hey! That’s my boy!”

Blaine began the game tentatively, which is a nice way of saying that Blaine’s first half performance smelled about like low tide in Tacoma.

The teams traded scores, and then punts, but Baker was crisper and clearly had the edge while Blaine’s offense fizzled their last play of the first half a bad snap that comically went straight up in the air as the siren sounded. The score by this time was Mount Baker 28, Blaine 7. It began to look like the same old same old.

But not this time. Things began changing, something that was sensed as much as felt, the kind of thing that in a movie is shown by a chilly gust of wind ruffling the dry leaves in the parking lot when the universe shifts into a different reality.

And it did, at least in the visitor’s locker room, where Coach Dodd’s halftime speech was a model of economy and effectiveness. “[Coach Dodd] just told us at halftime that he believed in us, that he knew we could win this game if we wanted to,” said senior Adam Dykstra after the game, “so we went out and played a little harder.”

Indeed. It was a much different team that returned after the break, a group of boys so determined and savage that had they been there, the Alamo wouldn’t have needed that secret back door.

On the opening second half kickoff Casey McCabe took the ball on his own 15 yardline and took off like Antwaan Randle El with his underwear full of lit matches, zipping straight upfield for 55 yards to the Mount Baker 30. Tygr Cain caught another pass and two plays later Ben Bohnson, who always gets stronger as the game goes along, ran it in from 10 yards out for his second touchdown of the night. Patrick “the Automatic” Mulholland’s kick was good, as it would be six times that night, to cut the Baker lead to 14.

Blaine forced the first of three second half Baker fumbles in the next series, and scored again in the ensuing drive as Paciorek ran it in from 14 yards out. Mount Baker fumbled again on the next series as Freddy Johncox ripped the ball out of a Mount Baker receiver’s hands after a completed pass, and Blaine recovered.

After Paciorek got sacked again Shane Hicks tried to pass out of what became a spontaneous fake punt play when he saw Johncox streaking down the left sideline, but he missed his target, and Mount Baker took over, scoring on the first play from scrimmage with a 30-yard touchdown pass.

Time was that such a rebound from the opposing team would spell doom for Blaine, untested by hardship and challenge. But not now. That touchdown was to be Baker’s last score.

Baker lined up for the point after kick and at the snap a charging Ben Bohnson went for the gold, managing to just get his extended right hand on the ball which squiggled off to the right like a duck on the wrong end of a 12-gauge. The block turned out to be a very big deal even though Blaine still trailed 34-21.

Paciorek put together a long pass drive and ran it in himself, then Mount Baker, on a third and four, fumbled for the third time when an unobstructed John Dudley ran in to bear hug the Baker quarterback, popping the ball out like a champagne cork into the waiting arms of Cody Dobbs. “The guy opposite me pulled or something,” said Dudley, “and nobody touched me until I got to Raney for the sack.”

Blaine scored again on a long passing drive when Paciorek ran it in from the five for his third touchdown of the night to tie at 34, and then Mulholland, cool as a surgeon removing his umpteenth appendix, split the uprights exactly in half to put Blaine ahead by one, 35-34.

With the lead for the first time, Blaine turned downright savage in playing the kind of football they’ll have to come up with every snap if they’re to go anywhere in the post season. Baker’s wilting offense was getting crushed like dandelions under a dump truck by this time, their third down pass attempt on their next series being called for intentional grounding.

On the next play Raney completed his pass to his wide receiver just short of a first down when Dykstra stopped him like he’d been hit by a shovel, and fans heard that pop.

Paciorek began a running series after Blaine took over on downs, and on the legs of Adam Dykstra and Ben Bohnson got down to the Baker 12 yard line. Bohnson then ran it in, followed by an ecstatic Paciorek who grabbed him and whirled him around, yelling “Bohnson! I love you, man!” The scoreboard read 42-34 Blaine.

Mount Baker threw one incomplete pass, then Adam Dykstra in an imitation of the late Reggie White sacked Raney in the middle of a completely open field for an eight yard loss.

His next pass was good to the Blaine 44, half a football length shy of the first down, and Blaine took over on downs shortly before the contest ended.

Ben Bohnson, already an accomplished blocking back, is emerging as a premier running back as his junior year winds down. He picked up 139 of Blaine’s 195 yards on the ground, scoring three of Blaine’s six touchdowns, all of which came on the ground.

“What a game he had at running back,” said Coach Dodd, “he was hot, and that’s why we went with him so much.” Along with Paciorek it gives Blaine a potent backfield with which to enter post-season play.

Tygr Cain (9 receptions for 122 yards), Freddy Johncox (3 for 60) and Alex Bresnan (1-7) accounted for Blaine’s passing yardage, all served up by Joey Paciorek, who went 13 for 22 with no picks.

Blaine’s healthy, having welcomed back Nick Murphy after he’d left the Anacortes game a little early.

“Couldn’t keep him off the field,” said a smiling Coach Dodd.

Blaine hosts Lynden Christian this weekend in a game that’s meaningless as far as post-season play is concerned but one in which the Borderites have the chance to shut them up for the first time in several years. Blaine’s post-season fortunes will be determined on Thursday and Friday of this week, based on the play of other teams (see Slivers from the Bench).

Slivers from the bench

Football Playoff picture
Four double-A teams will go to post-season play out of this year’s new Northwest Conference in football.

Blaine is currently in third place with a 3-3 record, 4-4 over-all, and played its last regular season AA opponent for the season last weekend.
It’s all but guaranteed itself a post-season berth, but there could be some strange complications.

Now pay attention. Anacortes (2-3, 3-5) is in fourth place and if they beat Bellingham (1-7, 0-5) they will tie Blaine for third place and go to post-season play. However, if Sehome (2-6, 2-3) beats Burlington (6-2, 4-1), and if Mount Baker (5-3, 2-3) beats Lynden (7-1, 5-0) and Anacortes loses then Sehome and Mount Baker will also have 3-3 conference records, forcing a “mini-playoff” on Saturday, October 28.
This is all unlikely but possible, which would mean that Blaine would play L.C. Friday, October 27 at 7 p.m. and then play in a “Kansas tie breaker” Saturday night at 7 p.m. at Mt. Baker.

Soccer playoff here
After figuring in results of games scheduled for last Monday Blaine has ended their season in a three-way tie for fourth place.

Blaine got fourth seed (as opposed to fifth or sixth seed) in a post-season lottery and will therefore play their first playoff game at home.

At press time, the game was scheduled for Pipeline Field on Thursday afternoon, October 26, at 4 p.m.

More brass for Coston
Former PGA touring pro Jeff Coston of Semiahmoo was named both Pacific Northwest PGA Player of the Year and Senior Player of the Year last Tuesday, the first time that the same person has earned both distinctions concurrently.

Coston was retuning home from just having won the Callaway Senior PGA Pro National Championship last weekend in Port St. Lucie, Florida.

The win puts him into next year’s Senior PGA Championship set for May 21 to 27, 2007, at the Kiawah Island Golf Resort in South Carolina.