The Blaine Borderites suffered a tough season opener, falling to the Port Angeles Rough Riders, 44-21.
Costly mistakes on offense, including four first-half turnovers, knocked the Borderites out of the game seemingly before it began. Possession issues, combined with a multitude of pre-snap penalties, made it difficult for first-year coach Andy Olson to implement his new spread offense scheme.
“The first week of running a spread offense is either going to be amazing or you’re going to be running all over the place,” Olson said. “For these guys, this is a completely different [offense].”
Blaine’s first possession was quickly interrupted when junior quarterback Colin Davis threw an interception, allowing Port Angeles to march into the red zone. Senior defensive tackle Victor Gervol forced a goal line fumble, but the Borderites were unable to get out of its own end zone, conceding a safety. A few plays later, Port Angeles scored on a long touchdown pass to go up 9-0.
Senior Riley Ihde generated the only first half points for the Borderites on a one-yard QB sneak. But after multiple penalties and turnovers, Blaine went into halftime down 30-9.
In his first halftime talk to the new team, Olson said Blaine had to come to terms with its revamped identity under the new coaching regime.
“We talked at halftime [asking ourselves], ‘What team do we want to be?’” Olson said. “Do we want to be the team that’s going to just throw in the towel and get rolled over, or are we going to come out and compete for the full 48 minutes? I think our effort and our energy was there.”
As if to prove that football isn’t like the movies and halftime speeches aren’t magic, the Borderites immediately conceded a kickoff return touchdown to Port Angeles, and trailed 37-7 just seconds into the half.
But Blaine finally looked confident and comfortable in the new spread offense, with Davis connecting with Ihde for two fourth quarter touchdowns.
Ihde played well on both sides of the ball, leading the offense with six receptions for 113 yards, and leading the defense with 7.5 tackles. Junior linebacker Blake Koreski showed out on defense with a forced fumble, interception and six tackles.
The Borderites were only able to generate 29 rushing yards on 27 attempts, but the passing offense looked to be in good shape by the fourth quarter, tallying 215 yards through the air. Ultimately, Olson said, the Borderites were its own biggest enemy on Friday.
“In many ways, we beat ourselves,” Olson said. “Sometimes the lights come on and the fans are in the stands and we get distracted. We’ve got to be a little more mentally tough in that regard.”
The final score of 44-21 may not look encouraging, but Olson said these early days in the season are all about learning and adjusting.
“I always believe that the most growth in regards to things you can control happens between week one and week two,” Olson said. “So we have a great opportunity in front of us.”
The Borderites now go on the road to face Sehome High School at Civic Stadium in Bellingham on Friday, September 7 at 7 p.m.
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