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Football forecast: Lynden, Anacortes set to decide 2A NWC title

Mount Baker can force 1A tiebreaker with win over Lynden Christian

Lynden’s Brant Heppner throws a touchdown pass Sept. 29 during a game against Sehome.
Lynden’s Brant Heppner throws a touchdown pass Sept. 29 during a game against Sehome. (Andy Bronson/Cascadia Daily News)
By Connor J. Benintendi Sports Editor

For many teams, the end of the regular season has arrived. A few schools will move on to the postseason after this week, some have week 10 games lined up and others will play their final game of the 2023–24 season on Friday, Oct. 27.

This year’s week nine slate features seven games, including a 3A postseason contest and the 2A Northwest Conference championship.

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

Game of the week: Anacortes at Lynden

7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 27, Lynden High School

Lynden record: 7-1 (6-0 NWC)

Lynden’s result last week: Beat Lakewood, 50-12

Anacortes record: 8-0 (6-0 NWC)

Anacortes’ result last week: Burlington-Edison forfeited


Final prediction: 26-23, Lynden

photo  Lynden’s Isaiah Stanley Hauls in a 37-yard touchdown reception on Oct. 28, 2022 as Lynden beat Anacortes in the 2A Northwest Conference championship game. Anacortes and Lynden will once again play for the league title on Friday, Oct. 27. (Andy Bronson/Cascadia Daily News)  

This is the best game of week nine, and it isn’t particularly close. It is not a coincidence that Anacortes and Lynden scheduled this game for the final week of the regular season — both teams knew they were going to be this good.

Thus we have our 2023 2A NWC championship game. From last season: Lynden beat Anacortes, 23-13, on Oct. 28, 2022, and went on to win the 2A state championship for the second straight season; Anacortes lost in the state quarterfinals, 10-7, to North Kitsap. 

Anacortes has outscored its opponents this season 250-43 (35.7 points per game, 6.1 points per game allowed), never giving up more than 13 points in a single game. 

Lynden’s offense, in particular, directly rivals the Seahawks’ attack. The Lions have outscored opponents 248-108 (35.4 points per game, 15.4 points per game allowed), but they have given up more than 20 points to their opponents three times. 

Perhaps the best way to measure these teams ahead of this game is how they handled the league’s third-place team, Sedro-Woolley (5-3, 3-3 NWC). Lynden pulled off a one-point, 29-28 win over Sedro-Woolley on Sept. 22 — needing a last-second touchdown and two-point conversion to pick up the win.

Anacortes beat the Cubs 27-7 on Sept. 29, leaving nothing to chance. 

The key for Lynden will be its offensive performance versus Anacortes’ defense. The Lions may need to come close to matching the total points Anacortes has allowed all season to get a win here.

Of note: Anacortes has not beaten Lynden since Oct. 6, 2000, when the Seahawks defeated the Lions 14-7. 

Lynden player to watch: QB Brant Heppner, junior

It’s no surprise that Lynden’s offense runs through its 6-foot-6, 220-pound quarterback. Heppner has stepped into the full-time starting role this season and piled up 17 passing touchdowns through seven games played to just four interceptions, according to Whatcom Preps (season stats added to last week’s total). He has also added six touchdowns on the ground as Lynden’s power rusher.

A Lynden victory may hinge on whether Heppner can crack Anacortes’ stout defense. Luckily, for the Lions, he has succeeded in that area in the majority of games this season.

Anacortes player to watch: WR/S Brady Beaner, junior

photo  Anacortes’ Brady Beaner runs in for a touchdown Oct. 28, 2022 during last season’s 2A Northwest Conference championship. (Andy Bronson/Cascadia Daily News)  

Beaner is Anacortes’ utility player on offense. While Brady’s brother, Brock, may be the Seahawks’ best player, it’s the way Anacortes uses Brady that makes him the player to watch here.

Brady has 696 total yards on the season (337 rushing and 359 receiving) to go along with six touchdowns, according to the Skagit Valley Herald. His versatility makes him a threat to get the ball in a variety of ways, and his speed makes him difficult to bring down.

Mount Baker at Lynden Christian

7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 26, Lynden Christian High School

Mount Baker record: 3-5 (2-1 NWC)

Mount Baker’s result last week: Beat Meridian, 30-27

Lynden Christian record: 6-2 (3-0 NWC)

Lynden Christian’s result last week: Beat Blaine, 48-14

Final prediction: 40-27, Lynden Christian

Mount Baker kept its playoff hopes alive last week, beating Meridian in a three-point thriller on Friday, Oct. 20. The Mountaineers now have a far tougher task in Lynden Christian, which enters the contest on a four-game win streak. 

If Mount Baker wins, we will have a repeat of last season’s Kansas tiebreaker (assuming Nooksack Valley also beats Blaine) where the Mountaineers pulled off an unprecedented upset before reaching the 1A state championship game.

LC’s goal is to stave off any efforts to knock them out of the state tournament once again, and the Lyncs can do so with a convincing win here. 

Edmonds-Woodway at Ferndale

7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 27, Ferndale High School

Ferndale record: 6-2 (4-2 3A Wesco North)

Ferndale’s result last week: Beat Stanwood, 34-7

Edmonds-Woodway record: 6-2 (5-1 3A Wesco South)

Edmonds-Woodway’s result last week: Beat Mountlake Terrace, 13-10

Final prediction: 26-18, Ferndale

photo  Ferndale’s Conner Walcker hauls in a leaping catch Sept. 15 during a game against Glacier Peak. (Andy Bronson/Cascadia Daily News)  

It’s postseason time in the 3A Wesco conference. Ferndale has won two in a row after a 14-13 loss to Marysville-Getchell on Oct. 6, and the Golden Eagles have a chance to greatly improve their 3A state tournament positioning with a week nine crossover game against Edmonds-Woodway.

Ferndale possesses an average margin of victory of 9.6 points to Edmonds-Woodway’s 11.8 — an early postseason matchup that is about as close as they come. 

The Golden Eagles’ opponents, however, have a win percentage of 0.594, whereas Edmonds-Woodway’s opponents’ win percentage sits far lower at 0.406, according to the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association’s RPI rankings. Ferndale has played tougher opponents, which should benefit the team in this contest.

Bellingham at Meridian

7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 27, Meridian High School

Bellingham record: 5-3 (League N/A)

Bellingham’s result last week: Beat Friday Harbor, 33-20

Meridian record: 3-5 (0-4 NWC)

Meridian’s result last week: Lost to Mount Baker, 30-27

Final prediction: 33-26, Bellingham

Bellingham has a chance to secure its first winning season while playing a full schedule since 2018 (it finished 3-2 in 2020 during the abbreviated COVID-adjusted spring season).

The Bayhawks, who still play a schedule independent of the NWC, are looking to win their sixth straight game, and a win would send them to week 10 with a possibility of finishing 7-3. 

Meridian hopes to get something positive out of the season’s last two weeks to roll over into next year, and the grit the Trojans showed in their three-point loss to Mount Baker gives them a chance in this game.

Nooksack Valley at Blaine

7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 26, Blaine High School

Nooksack Valley record: 5-2 (2-1 NWC)

Nooksack Valley’s result last week: Idle

Blaine record: 2-6 (1-2 NWC)

Blaine’s result last week: Lost to Lynden Christian, 48-14

Final prediction: 57-16, Nooksack Valley

photo  Nooksack Valley’s Skyler Whittern looks for a running lane Oct. 6 during a game against Lynden Christian. (Andy Bronson/Cascadia Daily News)  

Nooksack Valley is entering this game with a full week of rest after not playing last week. The Pioneers are averaging 47.7 points per game this season, making them the highest-scoring offense in the league. This week should be no different.

Blaine, as of now, does not have a week 10 game lined up, so the Borderites will look to close out their season with some positives. 

Squalicum at Sedro-Woolley

7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 27, Sedro-Woolley High School

Squalicum record: 3-5 (1-5 NWC)

Squalicum’s result last week: Lost to Sehome, 38-34

Sedro-Woolley record: 5-3 (3-3 NWC)

Sedro-Woolley’s result last week: Lost to Archbishop Murphy, 17-13

Final prediction: 34-13, Sedro-Woolley

The latter part of the season has not been kind to Sedro-Woolley, as the Cubs have lost three of their last five games after starting the year 3-0. Squalicum has lost three in a row, and the Storm have only one win against non-Canadian teams. 

That said, Squalicum nearly upset Sehome last week in an instant classic. With Sedro-Woolley down and both teams already eliminated from the playoffs, the Storm could tame the Cubs.

Lakewood at Sehome

7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 27, Civic Stadium

Lakewood record: 2-5 (1-4 NWC)

Lakewood’s result last week: Lost to Lynden, 50-12

Sehome record: 5-3 (3-3 NWC)

Sehome’s result last week: Beat Squalicum, 38-34

Final prediction: 42-24, Sehome

photo  Sehome’s Theo Quiggle dives for a reception Sept. 7 during a game against Blaine. (Andy Bronson/Cascadia Daily News)  

Sehome’s promising start to the season was spoiled by consecutive losses to Lynden and Anacortes. Since then, the Mariners have won back-to-back games by a combined seven points. 

A good Sehome team has fallen victim to the highly competitive 2A NWC powerhouses. Lakewood is not one of those powerhouses, so expect the Mariners to close out their regular season with a win, assuming they don’t line up a week 10 game.

Football standings — Oct. 23

3A Wesco North

Football League Overall
Team W-L W-L
Arlington 6-0 8-0
Ferndale 4-2 6-2
Marysville-Getchell 4-2 6-2
Marysville-Pilchuck 4-2 5-3
Stanwood 2-4 3-5
Oak Harbor 1-5 2-6
Mount Vernon 0-6 1-7


2A Northwest Conference

Football League Overall
Team W-L W-L
Anacortes 6-0 8-0
Lynden 6-0 7-1
Sedro-Woolley 3-3 5-3
Sehome 3-3 5-3
Archbishop Murphy 3-3 4-4
Lakewood 1-4 2-5
Squalicum 1-5 3-5
Burlington-Edison 0-5 0-7

1A Northwest Conference

Football League Overall
Team W-L W-L
Lynden Christian 3-0 6-2
Nooksack Valley 2-1 5-2
Mount Baker 2-1 3-5
Blaine 1-2 2-6
Meridian 0-4 3-5


Independent

Football League Overall
Team W-L W-L
Bellingham N/A 5-3

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