Sports -- September 20, 2007

Published on Thu, Sep 20, 2007
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SPORTS
by Jack Kintner

Borderites reduce Red Raider aerial circus to a circus

Borderite running backs Casey McCabe and Ben Bohnson combined for 332 yards of rushing offense as Blaine handed Bellingham its head on a platter for the second year in a row, winning handily 24-13 last Friday night at home.

In one of the game’s signature plays, defensive backs Ben Bohnson and Justin Kirkwood mashed Raider running back Taylor Perry hard enough to send his helmet and headband rolling another five yards downfield, giving the game a satisfying medieval flavor, as Blaine showed Bellingham a toughness that they obviously didn’t expect and weren’t ready for after having had their way with Mt. Baker the previous week. Blaine won this game with defense and with offensive execution in their running game.

Bellingham’s converted tackle Zack Halverson played quarterback for many years in Boys and Girls Club football and in fact ran the team in his middle school years that beat Blaine in a final tournament game by one point. Against Baker he generated over 30 points but only scored once through the air against Blaine, and a running attack that generated well over 500 yards in offense the first two game was held to less than 100 by the Borderite D-line and backfield.
Blaine won, and won big, in the trenches, between the tackles, quarterback Daniel Gorze throwing just six times to Halverson’s 35. The Borderite O-line is coming of age, and opening up holes big enough to drive through, while McCabe and Bohnson are now into dragging tacklers downfield by the half-dozen. Patrick the Automatic, while breaking his string of touchbacks last week, still did well with his foot, scoring three PAT’s and a 29-yard field goal for six points.

Bellingham scored first, early in the second quarter on a short pass, but that was pretty much it for the Raider offense until late in the game.

Blaine, on the other hand, answered that first score with a couple of first half touchdowns of their own, one each from Ben Bohnson and Casey McCabe, and then secured the victory with a fourth quarter performance that showed both heart and discipline. At one point Bellingham’s defense got so rattled with their inability to intimidate Blaine physically that they got whistled for two major penalties in a row, a pass interference call followed by a vicious personal foul. Blaine’s penalties were both five-yard procedure calls, Sunday school stuff.

Toward the end, with the outcome not really in doubt, Blaine stopped Bellingham five times inside the 24, three of them inside the five, before yielding on a fourth and inches, a play in which there was some doubt as to whether or not the ball actually crossed the plane of the goal. On the extra point try, Bellingham went for two but Blaine’s defensive blitz rattled Halverson as he hot-potatoed the ball away.

Blaine is the smallest AA school in the league, and because of that will always lack the depth of the bigger schools. Head coach Jay Dodd’s approach to that is one of insitlling focus and determination, and this game was a great example of that. Blaine did not get rattled by being behind early nor did they stop playing with a two-touchdown lead. Good thing, as this was a necessary win for these guys if they were to have any hope of post-season play, and now they do.

This week they play a Mount Vernon team (here at home) that held a good Burlington squad to just 10 points last week. It’s a tougher opponent but these kids are just getting warmed up.

Expect a closer defensive struggle, but if Blaine plays more of its error-free steady ground game, they’ll bag another to go up 3-1 on the year.

Borderite girls running up a league-leading 23 goals

The Borderite girls are off to another strong start this year, running up a league-leading 23 goals in their first three conference games.

The determined Blaine keeper Janelle Gobbato, pound-for-pound, one of the toughest athletes on any Blaine team, has a string of four shut-outs, three of them in a row in the last three games. And they know how to finish, compared to previous years when some of the girls teams played as if they were playing baseball in Japan, where no one wants to win because then it would mean the end of the game and they’d have to stop playing.

Yeah, right. Tell that to the six different girls who have punched goals home in the early going. Winning is the focus, playing well with leads or coming from behind, giving head coach Dan Steelquist the task of making a group of talented individuals into a team.

After a somewhat lackluster outing against Lynden Christian last Thursday that they won 1-0 on an early goal by Bailey Richardson on a Sam Nault assist, they defeated both perennial powerhouse Sultan on Saturday, 3-0, and then dumped on a fairly thin Nooksack team 6-0 on the road Tuesday night.
“But we played better even though we scored less in the second half of that Nooksack game,” he said, “getting team goals instead of relying on individual effort.”

For the record, Bailey Richardson scored the lone goal in the Borderite’s 1-nil win over LC last week on a Sam Nault assist. Against Sultan, Amanda Allison scored late in the first half on a Katie Conway assist, and then Sam Nault and Sarah Feenstra scored two minutes apart in the second half, Nault assisted by Bailey Richardson.

Against Nooksack, Amanda Allison scored first, assisted by Richardson. Richardson herself scored from her new position at midfield on a Chanel Colinares assist. Both Nault and Bre Olason scored twice, Nault in the first half and Olason in the second on assists by Allison and Colinares.

The Lady B’s are up against a tough Squalicum team at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, September 20, at the Pipe as they begin the uphill part of the season, meeting some of the league’s quality teams over the next two weeks.

Blaine evens record against Nooksack Valley Pioneers

The Lady B’s swept the undefeated Nooksack Valley Pioneers at home Tuesday night to even their record at 2-2 and make a statement early in the season.

After dropping the first three points to the scrappy pioneers, and a subsequent loud reminder from the bench, the girls took over and won 25-15, 25-22 and 27-25 to take the series 3-0.

The young team’s underclassmen came through big, sophomore Taylor Trueblood almost perfect with an 11/12 serving with four timely aces and freshman setter Libby Moore closing out the third hotly contested game with an ace at 24-24 and then coming back and doing it again.

She improved on her two-hit violations by setting up with low passes and was the picture of consistency in the right forecourt, lofting set and set to the imposing sophomore Jordan Oldham.

It was then passed to the team’s powerhouse outside hitter, junior Veronica Rooney, who came away with 43 out of 49 for the evening, 12 of them kills.

“She was hitting the snot out of the ball tonight,” said a pleased head coach Nikki Hallberg.

Sophomore Maria Swansen was 14 for 16 on her attacks with three kills, but the night and especially the third game turned on defense in the end.

Libero Jessica Wallen used her superior passing skills to good avantage, getting 27 digs in the match, and as the final game see-sawed back and forth the Lady B’s moved in for the kill, and the needed win.

“This was huge,” said Hallberg, “we just came back and attacked all night and in the end got through to the win. The girls played good defense tonight, which is where the offense begins, who sets it up and who hits it.

“It’s a mental game, and tonight they were focused and on their game. It’s a nice win for us.”

Borderite Scoreboard
For the week of September 13-18

Team Date Score
FOOTBALL
9/14
Blaine 24
Bellingham 13                 VOLLEYBALL 9/13 Lyn. Christian 3 Blaine 0   9/18 Blaine 3 Nooksack 0         SOCCER 9/13 Blaine 1 Lyn. Chr. 0   9/15 Blaine 3 Sultan 0   9/18 Blaine 6 Nooksack 0