Sports -- September 06, 2007

Published on Thu, Sep 6, 2007
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by Jack Kintner

Last year Blaine played eventual state champion Lynden evenly for most of the game before coming up short in the home opener 14-0.
But despite returning 16 of 22 players on both offense and defense, this year’s Borderite squad seemed to lose ground, playing tentatively at first and ultimately dropping a 31-13 decision last Friday night in Lynden.

Blaine senior Ben Bohnson scored the first Borderite touchdown following a well-executed drive behind junior quarterback Daniel Gorze. The Borderites followed with an on-side kick and drove down to pay dirt a second time, scoring on senior Shane Hicks seven-yard twisting run. The two running backs combined for a total of 100 yards rushing.

Had their scores come in the first quarter then Blaine would have had a chance against the Lions, but they came in the fourth quarter after Lynden had racked up a 31-point lead by picking on Blaine’s defensive backs and outrunning the defensive line for a few big plays.

Still, there were lessons learned and a few bright spots in Blaine’s fourth-quarter comeback that if nothing else cut the Lion lead from 31 down to a more respectable 18 points.

Lynden, a city that recently allowed a local theater to have an outhouse as long as the lawn around it was kept neatly mowed, does things its own way. That includes generating an athletic dynasty that is able to come up with winning teams year after year.

Television’s Brent Musberger once said “They don’t need to rebuild, just reload.” He was actually talking about Ohio State’s football team in 1999, but could just as easily been referring to Lynden. Both programs are always deep in talent.

For comparison, Blaine lost the talented Joey Paciorek off last year’s 5-4 playoff team to graduation, and the decision as to who will step into his place permanently at quarterback hasn’t yet been made. Both junior Daniel Gorze, who seems to have the edge right now, and senior Dylan Haines, coming back from an injury that kept him out last year, had their moments, but they sure weren’t in the first quarter where a number of wounded duck passes landed in enemy hands.

By the numbers, Gorze would seem to be the choice, connecting on eight of 15 passes with two interceptions for 90 yards. Both Haines’ attempts were intercepted.

As compared with Blaine’s situation, Lynden’s ’06 quarterback – receiver duo of Chris Boldt and Dirk Dallas were replaced this year with Dallas’ brother Tate and senior Ryan Gaylord, and here’s the point: Gaylord caught six passes for 121 yards and two touchdowns of 40 and 32 yards, made two interceptions and a nifty down-field block that set up a 54-yard run leading to the first Lynden score. But no one scouted him because no one knows him, and that’s because until last Friday night’s game he’d played exactly one down of football for the Lions.

That’s depth and tradition, something Lynden coach Kurt Kramme has built up over the last 15 years. His teams average three wins out of every four games played.
Rest assured that Blaine coach Jay Dodd, newly married and settling into his second year at the helm, has the same kind of winning attitude, and while Blaine still has a ways to go to build a similar dynasty it’s definitely on the way.

For example, one bright spot was the kicking of senior Patrick Mulholland. He opened the second half with a collegiate quality kickoff that sailed into Lynden’s end zone, a great way to eliminate runbacks since touchbacks are automatic in high school and once the ball’s into the end zone it cannot be returned.

He also engineered a tricky but successful on-side kick after Blaine’s first touchdown, a melee in which all 22 boys fight for a live ball but in which the kicking team starts from ten yards away. Mulholland also had some excellent punts and saved a touchdown after a weird no-call in which the refs nearly handed Lynden defensive back Jess Korthuis a 48-yard touchdown on a silver platter.

Dodd had called for another on-side attempt following Blaine’s second fourth quarter touchdown but Mulholland muffed the kick and the ball rolled to a dead stop after going only 8 yards, two short of the distance required for it to become a live ball and anyone’s for the taking.

The rules say that until a kick-off goes 10 yards only the receiving team may pick it up and run with it. If the ball’s come to rest, though, and something doesn’t happen right away the ref (in this case both the line judge and back judge were standing beside the ball) normally blows the play dead and the receiving team takes over from there, as much for safety’s sake as anything.

It’s a judgment call, but normally “right away” means a couple of seconds, enough time for the ref to say “one Mississippi, two Mississippi,” because a call can be a couple of seconds late but refs never want to make one too early, a so-called inadvertent whistle, as that can dramatically affect a game.

But on Friday night the refs let the ball lay there like a dead mole in the grass near the Blaine 48 yard line for at least five seconds if not more, giving Mulholland enough time to see his kick die on the grass, throw up his hands in disappointment and begin walking toward his bench, thinking the play was over.

Except Mulholland wasn’t buying it. He turned, saw what was happening and from across the field chased the fleet Korthuis down from behind and jammed him into the turf like a tent stake at the Blaine 13, undoubtedly with a few choice words known only to the two boys.

Still, Lynden got the ball at a distance from the end zone that was almost a gimme from the way the game had gone in the first half, and they figured to score easily.

But like their kicker, the Blaine defense suddenly began executing and hitting with focus, guts and determination, and at a level way above that with which they began the game.

Lynden’s offense was stopped like a shot moose by a solid wall of Blaine bricks, eventually yielding the ball back when the brutal Blaine D-line fumbled.

It would have been a turning point in the game except it happened too close to the end for Blaine to continue its comeback bid beyond scoring two touchdowns in a row.

But it was a lesson learned: you can’t just beat the champs, you have to take the game away from them, and the Borderites showed in the end that they could have done just that.

Blaine next plays at home against Sedro Woolley on Friday night September 7 at 7 p.m.