No one who saw the game in Ridgefield could fault the Borderites for lack of effort. In a game that reflected their whole season in many ways, the Borderites dug themselves out of a 14-point hole, and pulled out all the stops to keep up with a strong La Center team in their first appearance at the state tournament since 2009.
Blaine gave the Wildcats a hard-fought game from start to finish, but ultimately lost to the Southwest Conference powerhouse 35–14.
The Borderites ended their season 3–2 in the Northwest Conference and 5–6 overall. Following a year in which they were
knocked out of the Tri-District playoffs despite having the best running back in the state and a strong line, the Borderites surprised many fans this season with a few big come-from-behind wins and a strong postseason run. Some fans may have considered the 2013 season a time to rebuild, but that’s not how the coaches and players saw it.
“We came into the season expecting to go to the state tournament,” coach Jay Dodd said. “That’s our expectation every year – to not only go to the tournament but to keep winning and keep playing as long as we can.”
With that mindset, the Borderites made the four-hour drive to Ridgefield November 16 for the first round of the 1A state tournament against the undefeated Wildcats. Dodd described his team’s attitude going into the game as, “loose, relaxed and full of confidence. They didn’t feel intimidated or get caught up in the moment,” he said.
That confidence was apparent in running back Cole Muder’s performance. He carried 41 times for 205 yards, bringing his season total rushing yardage to 1,480 – the seventh highest in the state.
“He kept picking himself up and running back to the huddle. He was doing everything he could to win that football game,” Dodd said.
The Borderites fell behind early in the game, as the Wildcats scored early in the first quarter and again in the second. The Wildcat offense displayed a variety of fruitful running options, and didn’t complete a single pass in the first half.
Blaine quarterback Marcus Potts broke the ice for Blaine later in the second quarter on a 1-yard scramble.
In the third quarter, Blaine dominated possession behind Muder’s consistent running. The Borderites put together an eight-minute drive, and Muder scored on an 8-yard run. Kicker Peter Benne made good his second extra point attempt of the day to tie the game at 14 points a piece.
In their next possession, the Wildcats unleashed their only completed pass of the day – a 65-yard touchdown that put them up 21–14. The Borderites marched with determination to the La Center 25-yard line, going for it on fourth and two, but were stopped by La Center’s defense. Blaine’s determination not to punt or settle for a field goal would be a theme for the rest of the game, as they turned the ball over on downs two more times, and all three fourth-down attempts were inside the La Center 30-yard line.
“Those were three possessions where we certainly needed to come away with some points,” Dodd said.
Down by two touchdowns and with time running out, the Borderites tried to mix up their offense with passing plays, only to run up against a talented La Center secondary that netted four interceptions. Three of those interceptions came in the fourth quarter.
“We were trying to hurry, trying to do some different things,” Dodd said. “Their defense was strong in the secondary.”
The Wildcats scored again in the fourth quarter for a final score of 35–14.
Dodd said he was proud of his team’s performance despite the loss.
“You’re never really satisfied, and of course the kids are disappointed, but you have to give them credit. We battled hard against a very good team,” he said.
Looking back on the football season, head coach Jay Dodd gave a lot of credit to strong leadership from the senior class.
“The season didn’t start off too well, but our seniors never let anyone on the team get off track,” Dodd said. “When you lose the first three games, it’s easy to start losing hope or giving up. We didn’t have any of that, and our seniors led us all the way through. They refused to give up on the season at any time.”
“We always talk as a football team about the chapter we’re writing in Blaine football,” Dodd continued. “They always wanted to write a good chapter, and I think they did. We’ve got some great players coming back next year, and a very bright future ahead of us. I think a lot of that is thanks to the example set by the seniors on this team.”