Last week, Blaine football coach Jay Dodd said the pressure was on the offensive line to win the homecoming game against Friday Harbor. The o-line did that and more, playing what Dodd called an “outstanding” game to take the Borderites to a 35–12 victory in the October 11 matchup.
Quarterback Nathan Kramme had plenty of time to hand off to running back Cole Muder, who rushed for 209 of Blaine’s 386
total yards. Kramme also had time to throw a number of accurate passes out of the shotgun formation – including two touchdown passes to freshman Anthony Ball.
Ball was the big surprise of the night. In his first ever varsity start, he caught five passes for 79 yards including the two touchdowns.
“He’s a stud,” Kramme said. “There were a couple of passes where he saved me – if the ball’s off the mark, he’ll go get it.”
Blaine’s defense performed equally well. Coming into the game, the Borderites were concerned that Friday Harbor’s running back Nathan Steenkolk would be difficult to contain. He was held to seven yards on three carries.
Blaine alumnus Caleb Johnson watched the game, and remembered facing off against Steenkolk last year.
“I remember him being a tough opponent, so it was good to see the defense handle him this year,” Johnson said, adding that the scoreboard at the end of the night was impressive. “Friday Harbor is a strong team,” he said.
While Steenkolk didn’t run the ball much, he did throw two touchdown passes. Friday Harbor got the first touchdown of the night when Steenkolk threw a 39-yard pass to Amer Melic. Friday Harbor’s two-point conversion run failed, and Blaine took the lead later in the first quarter when Cody Gobbato scored on a 10-yard pass from Kramme and Peter Benne kicked the extra point. Blaine held the lead for the rest of the game.
In the second quarter, Kramme ran three yards into the end zone, and Ball scored on a 10-yard pass. Peter Holt scored Friday Harbor’s second touchdown on a seven-yard pass from Steenkolk.
Ball scored his second touchdown of the night on an 11-yard pass from Kramme. In tight coverage in the corner of the end zone, Ball leapt up and reached over his defender to snag the ball before going down on his back for an uncertain moment. He hoisted the ball while lying on his back to signal the touchdown was good.
In a long drive that ended the third quarter and began the fourth, Blaine marched from their own 18-yard line to the end zone.
Muder scored Blaine’s final touchdown on a three-yard run, after running the ball 12 times in the 15-play drive.
“Cole just has outstanding vision and a great understanding of where the play is going to go,” Dodd said. “He knows where to cut off his blocks, and he also does a great job of squaring up with the safety and making him miss.”
Like the offensive line in front of him, Kramme also had an outstanding game, Dodd said.
“Nate [Kramme] did a great job being the general of the offense,” Dodd said. “He kept everyone focused and moving forward, and just had a heck of a game all around.”
For Blaine coaches, the most encouraging sign of the night had to be Blaine’s clean play. The Borderites had only one penalty (a five-yard false start), threw zero interceptions and committed one fumble late in the game that caused a turnover on downs. Those numbers are a drastic improvement from the Lynden Christian game last week, in which the Borderites lost 75 yards in eight penalties, lost two fumbles and threw an interception.
“It shows that we’re paying more attention to detail, focusing better and playing better all around,” Dodd said. “We’ve struggled with turnovers this season, and this game was encouraging.”
After losing their first three games of the season, the Borderites now own a 3–3 overall record and are 2–0 in Northwest conference play. To have gotten three wins back from a 0–3 record is no easy feat, Dodd said.
“For 16- and 17-year-olds, our kids are doing an incredible job of staying positive and staying the course,” he said. “They’re good teammates, they never point the finger at each other and they work hard.”
The Borderites will need to execute all they’ve learned this season – all their offensive weaponry, all their defensive discipline and all their attention to detail – to pull off a win when they travel to Meridian this Friday, October 18.
“This is a huge game that could affect our standings further down the road towards playoffs,” Dodd said. “We’re excited to go down to Meridian and see if we can make something happen.”
Like Blaine, Meridian is 2–0 in conference play. The Trojans beat Friday Harbor 32–0 earlier in the season, and beat Nooksack Valley 60–28 last week.
“The strength of their team is in their line. They’re very strong on both sides of the ball,” Dodd said. “Our linemen will have their hands full. We’ll have to play with better technique.”
The Borderites will travel to Meridian Friday, October 18. The game begins at 7 p.m.