It’s hard enough to beat the second-ranked team in the state playoffs in basically a home game for them.
Add to that you have one of the top passing quarterbacks in the state, but it’s raining really hard. Plus, the wind felt like it was much stronger than the 15 mph with gusts up to 30 mph at the airport over 6 miles away.
North Kitsap’s third-ranked football team couldn’t overcome all that, losing to the Lynden Lions Saturday night at Civic Stadium in Bellingham 15-10.
Lynden had the wind advantage in the first quarter and jumped to a 9-0 lead.
While Viking senior quarterback 6-foot-3 Colton Bower was able to run in the first quarter for large gains his passing success was limited, being picked off on one of his first throws. But Lynden fumbled the ball right back to the Vikings, and they drove all the way to the Lynden 22-yard line before the drive stalled.
A wind-aided Lynden punt went out of bounds at the 9-yard line. The Lion defense held, and the Vikings were forced to punt. However the snap went over the punter’s head for a safety, making it 2-0.
As a result, NK had to kick from its own 20-yard line. Kicking into the heavy wind Lynden took over around midfield. They basically ran the ball up the middle, 3- to 4-yards at a time. The Viking defense held giving them a fourth down inside the 10-yard line. But a Viking lineman jumped offsides on a hard count, setting up a first and goal from the 4-yard line.
Lion quarterback Kaeden Hermanutz ran right and beat the Viking defenders to the corner of the end zone for the score.
Lynden took advantage of the wind one more time. Even though it was still the first period, the Lion coaches called a couple of timeouts so NK again would have to punt into the wind on fourth down. NK didn’t use much clock in-between snaps, allowing that strategy to work. But even after the short punt the Viking defense held.
In the second quarter, NK had the wind advantage, and Bower started completing some short throws.
Like NK in the first quarter, Lynden struggled going into the wind in the second. NK took over and after a long pass from Bower to his favorite receiver, 6-foot-3 sophomore Logan Sloman, it looked like Lynden came up with an interception. But a penalty gave the ball back to the Vikings.
Along with the short throws the Vikings ran the ball up the middle mostly and drove down the field in the second quarter. On fourth down they tried a field goal with the wind. It looked good at first but the crosswind carried it wide right. However, a running into the kicker penalty gave the ball back to NK. They couldn’t do much on offense and settled for a 35-yard field goal by Diego DeLuna.
Just before halftime, NK drove the ball down the field again, but the field goal try was blocked, basically ending the first half at 9-3.
The Vikings had two excellent chances to take the lead in the third quarter. A 38-yard pass from Bower to Sloman took the ball to the Lions 10-yard line. But a face mask penalty stalled that drive.
Later that period the Vikings drove to the 30-yard line of Lynden, but again came away scoreless after faltering on fourth down.
By far the best two drives of the game came in the fourth quarter, half of it taken up by NK at first and scoring a TD before Lynden basically ran out the clock with its long, time-consuming drive.
The Vikings went on a methodical nine-play, 85-yard drive to pull ahead for the first time in the game 10-9 with 6:33 left in the game. Bower took it in from 1- yard out.
But then Lynden went on its own methodical 14-play, 80-yard drive, scoring with less than a minute left in the game for the win. They put in a power runner, Cade Slayton, 6-foot-2, 215 pounds, who normally is a tight end, at quarterback and ran the Wildcat all the way down the field.
Lynden will play No. 1 ranked Tumwater for the 3A state title Dec. 4 at 4 p.m. at Sparks Stadium in Puyallup. Tumwater beat No. 4 Squalicum 14-3 in its semifinal game.
NK finished the season 10-1, while Lynden is 11-1. The Lions entered the game having lost to Ferndale and having four other close games, while the Vikings were undefeated with its closest win by 14 points.
Bower finished 7 for 24 passing for 102 yards and had 164 yards rushing to lead the Vikings, which made school history by making the state semifinals for the first time.