Sports -- November 23, 2006

Published on Thu, Nov 23, 2006
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by Jack Kintner

Blaine football closes season with record 500

Blaine football closed out its first season under new head coach Jay Dodd with a .500 record and a promise of a good year to come.
Only nine of the nearly 50-man varsity roster will be lost to graduation, and next year’s team will have 21 experienced and battle-hardened senior warriors, including all-league 6-foot 270 lb. lineman Bryan Chau.
Five of the seniors, including Sean McCall, John Dudley, Taryn Foster, Nicholas Murphy and Mike Bird, played on Blaine’s revitalized offensive line, and four of them plus Joe Paciorek and Adam Dykstra anchored a defense that was miles ahead of where it had finished the year before.

McCall, wideout Tygr Cain and running back Derik Stremler all played in the defensive backfield.

One down side to playing in a new conference that’s much bigger than the old five-team Whatcom County League comes when it’s time to select all-league players since most coaches have seen the other teams only once, and none of them expected much out of Blaine this year.
Still, two Borderites were named to the all-league defensive team, Chau and Paciorek.

The one player who has been key to Blaine’s ups and downs for the past four years has been Paciorek, a gifted athlete whose team spirit, willingness and cooperation are almost too good to be true.

His peers like him well enough to have elected him homecoming king, and like Luke Ridnour, who graduated six years ago as the last superior athlete to come out of Blaine, Paciorek’s main emotion while playing is a fiercely competitive streak. Both look at losing the way dogs look at cats.

Consider this, that both this season and last he played several games (and more than one varsity sport) with broken bones. In this year’s Mt. Baker game, a come-from-behind thriller that defined the year for the B’s and catapulted them into post-season play.

He ran for three touchdowns and completed 13 of 23 passes for 182 yards, almost all of it with the proximal phalanx of his thumb on his playing hand broken so badly it needed surgery.

He avoided the knife until after he played the last regular season game – quarterbacked by sophomore DJ Gorze – where he ran for two touchdowns and 170 yards, scoring twice against Lynden Christian, who had about as much luck stopping him as they have had stopping sin.

Joey ends his senior year with 16 touchdowns rushing, five more passing and one as a receiver, a 23-yard interception return against Mount Vernon.

He rushed for 820 yards and passed for just under a thousand, completing 61 of 130 attempts for a smidge under 47 percent.

“He’s quick and perceptive, and is a reactive player,” said quarterback coach Dan DeLong, “and like a lot of us often plays better when he’s sick or injured.”

Before coming to coach at Blaine, DeLong was the starting quarterback for the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds.

Though such things are usually not spoken about out loud, Paciorek is currently being considered by a half-dozen or so NCAA Division I schools for either football or baseball or both, and is almost certain to be drafted into baseball’s major leagues, giving him some choices to make after graduating next spring.

The other element in Blaine’s success has been head coach Jay Dodd, a Blaine graduate who came back from four years assisting in Prosser, Washington, to revitalize the Borderite program.

“They put in all that work, it makes them better athletes and makes our team communication really click,” said Dodd, “which leads to working together well, which is a huge part of becoming a winning team. We’re not there yet, but we’re on the way.”

The Borderite post-season ended with the first game, played on a rainswept plastic gridiron in Everett, with a 35-17 loss to Murphy. The next weekend Dodd watched his old team at Prosser, a double-A school near Yakima where he coached under Tom Moore, play its second-round post-season game.