Blaine’s varsity football team spent a solid 20 minutes during practice on Tuesday going against short yardage situations, one of their weaknesses in their opening 26-20 loss to the balanced, strong and quick New Westminster Hyacks, a team out of a school more than three times the size of Blaine.
“People see us opening against a Canadian team and figure it’s easy, but it’s not,” said Blaine head football coach Jay Dodd, reflecting on last year’s opening 60-0 rout of another Canadian team that had trouble lining up correctly. For Blaine, the Hyacks were able to convert short yardage into first downs with relative ease, getting the yardage 10 out of 14 times and running 64 plays to just 43 for Blaine.
“We just couldn’t get the ball off the field enough,” Dodd said, referring to his team’s failure to stop the Hyack offense.
Blaine took the lead in the first quarter on a 26-yard run by Caleb Statham followed by a Keith Sentkowski kick. After giving up a score in which the Hyacks failed to convert Blaine regained the lead late in the second quarter on a spectacular Trevor Chau catch for a 25-yard gain and a first and goal on the nine. David Craig took it in on the next play behind Staham’s blocking, and at the half it was 13-12 Borderites in front of a capacity crowd.
A blocked punt led to a quick Hyack touchdown and an 18-13 lead early in the second half, but Blaine came back again with a 42-yard McCarty to Chau pass that left it 20-18 Blaine. In the end the Hyacks ground out their final score and held the Borderites who gained mid-field in the closing seconds but were unable to get any further as time ran out.
Despite the loss, were Blaine’s 8 yards per carry average in the 20 rushing plays they ran, the yardage being shared between Craig (56 yards), Statham (88) and a new back, senior Cody Dampier, a transfer from Missouri, who got 15 yards on seven carries.
Senior quarterback Jordan McCarty went 12 for 20 with no interceptions, a good effort against a talented defensive backfield, and Chau’s five receptions totaled 124 of Blaine’s 156 yards through the air.
Blaine’s next opponent, again at home, is Anacortes. The Seahawks are not picked to do well in the conference this year but have one outstanding player, Chris Stoneham, who burned Blaine several ways last year down at the island city’s home turf.
Still, Blaine should win this one after the sting of the opening loss to one of the best high school teams in B.C.