Photos by Janell Kortlever
Senior tailback Mario Gobatto and the Blaine Borderites’ starting offensive unit took the field for the first time this season Friday, August 31, at Blaine High School and set the tone early, with Gobatto shedding would-be tacklers for a 40-yard touchdown run on the team’s first play from scrimmage.
After a quick three-and-out by the New Westminster (B.C.) Hyacks, the Borderites’ offense took the field and, just as he did moments earlier, Gobatto received a hand-off on first down and ran for a 28-yard touchdown.
“It feels good,” head coach Jay Dodd said of his offense scoring two touchdowns on its first two plays. “We got to their front seven with our seven and he was able to make the safeties miss and the wide outs were doing a good job (blocking) down the field for him – that’s how big runs happen in our offense.”
Gobatto added another touchdown run – from just 5 yards out this time – in the first quarter, with junior wide receiver/cornerback Isaiah Jackson adding an exciting end-around 45-yard touchdown run to cap a 30-0 lead heading into the second quarter.
“The offensive line did a great job,” Gobatto said after the game. “The holes were massive – the weight room really paid off for them this year.”
Gobatto finished the game with 217 yards rushing, five touchdowns on 15 carries – all of which were in the first half.
The offensive line, who replaced three starters from last season’s strong front five, didn’t skip a beat paving the way for Borderites offense to rush for 303 yards on 30 attempts, while not allowing a sack on sophomore quarterback Nate Kramme, a fact that wasn’t lost on the sophomore signal-caller.
“They protected me great,” Kramme said. “They are very important to the team. Without the line, I can’t throw the ball and Mario Gobatto can’t run the ball.”
And although Kramme didn’t have many opportunities to throw the ball – only four of five for 59 yards and one touchdown – he executed the offensive plays well and didn’t turn the ball over.
“He’s doing a good job of not just managing the game,” Dodd said of his sophomore quarterback. “This year we can give him a little more to take care of and a little more responsibility, and we gave him a little more tonight, and he did great with it.”
Even though Dodd had hoped to throw the ball more, he was content with continuing to run the ball because the offense was clicking – indicative of the 50-0 lead the Borderites took into halftime.
The Borderites’ lead wasn’t only indicative of the team’s strong offensive play, but also of the defense and special teams units showing drastic improvements over a difficult 2011 season. In particular, the defensive secondary, held the Hyacks’ passing attack to one of 12 passing for six yards.
“We swarmed to the ball on defense,” Dodd said. “We just played hard, and we’re looking to improve our defense every week.”
And improve they did, allowing only 152 yards from scrimmage and 16 points – most of which came in garbage time near the end of the game.
And just as the defense showed the ability to stop both the run and the pass, the special teams showed the ability to limit the opposing team’s kick returns while consistently forcing New Westminster to start its offensive possessions deep in its own territory.
“Special teams covered well and tackled well tonight,” Dodd said. “We had some short fields for our offense today which was a big factor.”
Nevertheless, Kramme summed up his team’s mentality heading back into practice in preparation for this week’s game against Terry Fox High School (B.C), Friday, September 7, at Blaine High School.
“There is always room for improvement – you can always get better,” Kramme said. “We’re coming out for another win, definitely, and we’re just going to go back to practice and get better.”