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Football forecast: Slim slate will define postseason

Week 8 brings just 6 games, last gasps at playoff contention

Mount Baker's Alex Maloley sacks Nooksack Valley quarterback Joseph Brown on Nov. 26
Mount Baker's Alex Maloley sacks Nooksack Valley quarterback Joseph Brown on Nov. 26 (Andy Bronson/Cascadia Daily News)
By Connor J. Benintendi Sports Editor

It’s the final week of the regular season for Whatcom County’s lone 3A team (unless other arrangements for week nine are made soon), while the Northwest Conference 1A/2A programs continue to push toward the postseason. 

A few bottom teams have already been eliminated from playoff contention, while others have clinched berths. Nevertheless, week eight’s slim slate of six games will be a defining one.

Here’s what you should know about this week’s games.

Game of the week: Meridian at Mount Baker

7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 20, Mount Baker High School

Meridian record: 3-4 (0-3 NWC)

Meridian’s result last week: Lost to Lynden Christian, 40-13

Mount Baker record: 2-5 (1-1 NWC)

Mount Baker’s result last week: Lost to Nooksack Valley, 49-19


Final prediction: 30-24, Mount Baker

photo Mount Baker’s Marcques George is hoisted into the air by teammate Alex Maloley after scoring a touchdown on Nov. 21, 2022, during the Mountaineers’ game against Meridian. (Andy Bronson/Cascadia Daily News)  

While it’s unlikely either of these teams will make the 1A state tournament (Meridian is already eliminated from contention), this will be a matchup of surprisingly even teams.

Mount Baker has seen a significant decrease in win percentage from a year ago when the Mountaineers reached the 1A state championship game, finishing the 2022–23 season 8-5 overall. 

It was, however, around this time last season that a 3-4 Mount Baker team put all the pieces together and made a late playoff push — a scenario that would require perfection and a whole lot of luck to repeat itself this season.

Meridian enters this game after losing its previous three. The Trojans have lost a trio of league games since their NWC schedule began, including an Oct. 6 defeat at the hands of Blaine on a game-winning field goal. 

If Meridian is to avoid going winless in league play, this is its final chance. At the very least, the Trojans have an opportunity to spoil Mount Baker’s playoff hopes, as a second NWC loss would eliminate the Mountaineers from contention.

Mount Baker player to watch: OL/DL Alex Maloley, senior

Maloley is one of the most dominant offensive and defensive linemen in Whatcom County, and his numbers this season reflect that. Entering Mount Baker’s week seven tilt with Nooksack Valley on Friday, Oct. 13, Maloley led all county players with 16 tackles for loss, according to Whatcom Preps. The next closest player was Blaine’s Zi Yu, who had 9.5.

Maloley gets after the quarterback, too. He entered week seven with five quarterback sacks — tied for third in the county with Nooksack Valley’s Dalton Hickey, according to Whatcom Preps.

Meridian player to watch: RB/LB Joshtyn Elmer, senior

photo Meridian’s Josh Elmer runs in for the touchdown Sept. 16 during a game against King’s Way Christian. (Andy Bronson/Cascadia Daily News)  

Elmer, now a three-year starter, has been arguably Meridian’s most effective offensive weapon, and he has also been a mainstay on the front seven of the Trojans’ defense. 

He led Whatcom County in all-purpose yards, according to Whatcom Preps, heading into a week seven game against Lynden Christian on Oct. 13, but was held to just 42 total yards in the loss. The senior has a golden opportunity to get back on track against Mount Baker.

Sehome at Squalicum

7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 20, Civic Stadium

Sehome record: 4-3 (2-3 NWC)

Sehome’s result last week: Beat Archbishop Murphy, 24-21

Squalicum record: 3-4 (1-4 NWC)

Squalicum’s result last week: Lost to Anacortes, 34-13

Final prediction: 37-16, Sehome

Each of these teams has been eliminated from postseason contention, which leaves only bragging rights on the table for this contest.

Sehome has struggled since the start of its league schedule, beginning the season 3-1 after wins over Blaine, Burlington-Edison and Mount Baker (93-53 point differential over that four-game stretch). The Mariners have since lost two of their last three, and they have been outscored 100-57 in those three games.

Two of Squalicum’s three wins came at the beginning of the season, and both were against teams from British Columbia. Their only win over a NWC team, Class 1A or 2A, was a 28-13 victory over Burlington-Edison on Sept. 28.

Both teams will be playing for their pride in this one.

Stanwood at Ferndale

7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 20, Ferndale High School

Ferndale record: 5-2 (3-2 3A Wesco North)

Ferndale’s result last week: Beat Mount Vernon, 49-14

Stanwood record: 3-4 (2-3 3A Wesco North)

Stanwood’s result last week: Lost to Marysville-Getchell, 21-20

Final prediction: 40-17, Ferndale

photo  Ferndale’s Talan Bungard picks off a pass and returns it Sept. 15 against Glacier Peak. (Andy Bronson/Cascadia Daily News)  

Ferndale, which has split its last four games, will get a Stanwood team that has lost three in a row since Sept. 29. This game will also be the final contest of the regular season for both teams, as the postseason for Class 3A is on the horizon.

The Golden Eagles have a chance to solidify a second-place 3A Wesco North finish with a win over Stanwood, in addition to closing out the regular season on a high note. Stanwood will have the tough task of stopping Ferndale junior running back Talan Bungard, who galloped for 122 yards rushing and four touchdowns last week, according to Whatcom Preps.

Blaine at Lynden Christian

7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 20, Lynden Christian High School

Lynden Christian record: 5-2 (2-0 NWC)

Lynden Christian’s result last week: Beat Meridian, 40-13

Blaine record: 2-5 (1-1 NWC)

Blaine’s result last week: Lost to Bellingham, 40-23

Final prediction: 52-20, Lynden Christian

Blaine entered its Oct. 13 game versus Bellingham riding high from a last-second, game-winning field goal over Meridian a week prior. The Borderites were brought back to Earth by the Bayhawks, who notched five touchdowns through the air against their porous defense.

Now in a matchup with Lynden Christian, Blaine really has its work cut out for it. LC has won three in a row, and its most recent loss was on Sept. 23 to Royal — the state’s premiere program in Class 1A. Blaine, like Mount Baker, is still in playoff contention with its 1-1 league record, but it will be quite an uphill battle. 

Meridian, which Blaine beat by one point, lost to LC by 27 points last week, as the Lyncs are the only 1A NWC team to remain undefeated in league games.

Lynden at Lakewood

7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 20, Lakewood High School

Lynden record: 6-1 (5-0 NWC)

Lynden’s result last week: Burlington-Edison forfeited

Lakewood record: 2-4 (1-3 NWC)

Lakewood’s result last week: Lost to Sedro-Woolley, 42-21

Final prediction: 48-10, Lynden

Lynden has won five in a row, and six including last week’s game that was forfeited by Burlington-Edison. The Tigers dropped out of last week’s contest with Lynden due to “violations of the Burlington-Edison High School Athletic Code by multiple student-athletes on the varsity football team,” according to a statement released on Facebook by the school. Burlington-Edison has also forfeited its game with Anacortes on Friday, Oct. 20, which means the Tigers’ season could be over.

The two-time defending state champion Lions have been firing on all cylinders and just got an entire week of rest — an uncommon luxury in high school football.

Lakewood has lost three of its last four games, and Lynden will use this game as a primer for what will likely be the 2A NWC championship game on Friday, Oct. 27 versus Anacortes (7-0, 5-0 NWC).

Bellingham at Friday Harbor

6:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 20, Friday Harbor High School

Bellingham record: 4-3

Bellingham’s result last week: Beat Blaine, 40-23

Friday Harbor record: 4-2 (3-0 NW 1B/2B)

Friday Harbor’s result last week: Beat La Conner, 44-6

Final prediction: 33-21, Bellingham

photo  Bellingham’s Tyler Frost and Sonny Powell, bottom, stop Blaine’s Rommel Paez for a loss on Oct. 13 during the Bayhawks’ win over the Borderites. (Andy Bronson/Cascadia Daily News)  

Bellingham has completely turned its season around, winning its last four games by a combined score of 183-44. The Bayhawks are mostly playing schools much smaller than them as a result of their league independence, but it’s still an improvement on their first three games, which they lost by a combined 16 points.

Bayhawks senior quarterback Josh Leonard has been on a tear, most recently throwing for 322 yards and five touchdowns in the win over Blaine on Oct. 13. Wide receiver Wyatt Stephan caught all five, tying the Whatcom County all-time record for touchdown receptions in a single game, according to Whatcom Preps.

Football standings — Oct. 16

3A Wesco North

Football League Overall
Team W-L W-L
Arlington 6-0 7-0
Ferndale 3-2 5-2
Marysville-Getchell 3-2 5-2
Marysville-Pilchuck 3-2 4-3
Stanwood 2-3 3-4
Oak Harbor 1-4 2-5
Mount Vernon 0-5 1-6


2A Northwest Conference

Football League Overall
Team W-L W-L
Anacortes 5-0 7-0
Lynden 5-0 6-1
Sedro-Woolley 3-2 5-2
Archbishop Murphy
2-3 3-4
Sehome 2-3 4-3
Lakewood 1-3 2-4
Squalicum
1-4 3-4
Burlington-Edison 0-4 0-6


1A Northwest Conference

Football League Overall
Team W-L W-L
Lynden Christian 2-0 5-2
Nooksack Valley 2-1 5-2
Mount Baker 1-1 2-5
Blaine 1-1 2-5
Meridian 0-3 3-4


Independent

Football League Overall
Team W-L W-L
Bellingham N/A  4-3

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