Sports -- September 04, 2008

Published on Thu, Sep 4, 2008
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SPORTS by Jack Kintner

Borderites take to the air in new season

For a third place, 7-4 team that lost 28 seniors, this year’s Blaine varsity football team still figures to continue on to post-season play for the third year in a row under head coach Jay Dodd, perhaps even to improve upon last year’s finish.

“That’s our goal,” said Dodd, “to host a playoff game this year, and to do that we’ll have to finish second.” To do that the Borderites must get by Anacortes and Mount Baker, the second and third games of the season following Friday’s opener against the Scorpions of Sands high school, located just east of the Alex Fraser Bridge in North Delta, B.C.
It’s roughly the same size as Blaine and, as do all B.C. high schools, plays by American rules. Contrary to popular opinion they do not have a 13th grade but their athletic program is a priority so it should be a good match.

Blaine’s 85 players that have been turning out for practice are led by returning veterans Casey McCabe at running back and linebacker and Jake Miller at center and defensive tackle. Miller symbolizes this year’s line, smaller but quicker. “We’ll make up in speed what we may not have in size,” Miller said, eager for the season to begin.

McCabe echoed Miller’s sentiments, saying that Blaine will be “pretty good, better than other teams expect us to be.”

Senior Daniel Gorze returns for a second year at quarterback, with juniors Jordan McCarty and Tanner Weaver backing him up.

All three can throw the ball well. McCarty’s new to Blaine having moved south from Vancouver (and has played against some of the Scorpions). His older brother Calvin is a running back for the Edmonton Eskimos.

Wide receiver Trevor Chau figures to have a good year as the premier wide receiver on the team, along with Jacob Rogers, backed up by junior Josh Jones and sophomore Todd Bird, as will junior running backs Caleb Statham and David Craig. Big (6’2”, 225 lb) Darrell Price, Jr., puts a lot of beef at defensive tackle and will also be coming out of the backfield on some plays.

Last year’s Anacortes game was where the ’07 team earned its stripes, when a lackluster first half was followed by a second half that saw Gorze get 250 yards through the air to beat Anacortes and get into post-season play.

This year Blaine returns to Anacortes for the second year in a row for the second game of the season where the Seahawks will be lying in wait hoping for revenge on the Borderites.

It was a good illustration, though, of what we might expect from a team coached by Jay Dodd, where it not only managed big plays when needed but did not let that go to their heads, knowing how to handle their sudden advantage and play the whole game. That’s performance and maturity, and this year Gorze figures to bring all that and more onto the gridiron.

Aside from Miller the rest of the offensive line is all juniors, with Tui Laolagi, Joel Garza, Chris Nunez, Travis Pederson, Brandon Heggem, Anthony Munden and Courtney Sharp all competing for starting roles.

“A bright spot is this team’s work ethic,” said Dodd, “plus the background we have with over 50 kids each out for middle school, fifth and sixth grade football and the program at the Boys and Girls club.”

The defensive line will be lighter than last year but quicker, with Miller, Price, Heggem, Sharp and the fridge clone 6’2” 253 pound junior Chris Wood competing to start as nose guards and tackles, and Ben Bohnson’s little brother Al, who’s actually bigger and stronger, a junior, and senior Miguel Alvarez at defensive end along with Antonio Gates.
And this isn’t the whole story, because in addition to these there are a lot other players in the wings who have been pumping just as much iron and will emerge during the season to do good things for the Borderites.

Schedule-wise, Blaine’s got about as hard a lineup as they had since Dodd arrived two seasons ago. The seven league games include an October date with Squalicum that’s dropped into the AA ranks for a year.

Aside from Sands, the other non-league opponent is last year’s undefeated league AA champion Ferndale, led by yet another Locker, this time quarterback Brady Locker, whose brother soldiers on valiantly for the University of Washington, probably the country’s best quarterback in a losing program.

League-wise, Blaine’s games are all close until the post season with the exception of Anacortes on September 12. They’re at home against Ferndale on the 19th, Mount Baker on the 26th, Burlington on October 23 and Bellingham on Thursday night October 30. They travel to Lynden, Squalicum and Sehome.

Slivers from the bench...

Golfers asked to pitch in

Blaine boys golf coach Steve Barthlow and the Blaine Golf Boosters are drumming up hole sponsorships and participants for a Sunday, October 5 golf fundraiser to be held at Semiahmoo Golf and Country Club.

Proceeds will go to support the varsity golf team. For further information to those interested in playing, volunteering or sponsoring a hole can contact Barthlow at sbarthlow@webmail.blainesd.org.