No team is going to make a deep playoff run without suffering an injury or two.
The Lynden Lions certainly had their share of high-profile players banged up during its run to the Class 2A state title this season.
The biggest difference between the 13-1 Lions and other teams?
The Lions from Whatcom County didn’t let the injuries slow them down.
Starting running Luke Christianson suffered a dislocated shoulder in Lynden’s 48-21 semifinal victory over Capital but still started against Tumwater, rushing for 25 yards on five carries in the Lions’ 41-7 win over the Thunderbirds on Saturday.
Two-way starter Zach Vis broke his collarbone on the second day of practice, sidelining him for the first six weeks of the season.
“I knew we would have players step up when I was out,” Vis said. “That’s what they did. It only made us a better, deeper team for the playoffs.”
Vis looked completely healed in the title game, catching nine passes for a 2A state title game-record 271 yards and three touchdowns – including a 71-yard TD reception in the first quarter that seemed to kick-start the Lions.
Vis, who may be a better center fielder in baseball than a receiver in football, also made his presence felt on defense. In particular was a fourth-down play he made midway through the first half when he jarred loose an apparent completion to Gabe Gleizes with a big hit.
A reception would have given the T-Birds a first down inside the Lynden 40 with a chance to trim their deficit to six points.
Instead the Lions took over and marched down the field, with Vis capping the drive with a 12-yard touchdown grab for a 20-point cushion at halftime.
Vis added a 27-yard scoring catch in the third quarter, pushing his receiving total to 271 yards and surpassing the record of 267 put up by Prosser’s Kirby Moore against Lynden in the 2008 2A title game.
Vis’ total is a state championship game record for all classifications.
“I knew I had some yards,” Vis said after being informed of his record-breaking total, “but I had no clue it was that many. It’s a pretty amazing way to end your high school football career.”
Terry Jensen had three options.
Trailing 21-16, Montesano had just stopped No. 2 Royal at the Knights’ 41. Three seconds remained in the first half.
Taking a knee and going to the locker room down at halftime never crossed Jensen’s mind.
He signaled in “80 Idaho Tip” – a “Hail Mary” tip play that resulted in a 41-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Matthew Jensen to receiver Richard Smith.
“We work on it during every pregame,” Matthew Jensen said.
The Bulldogs went on to win the game – and the 1A title – 43-28 over Royal in the Tacoma Dome.
Terry Jensen admitted he and his staff took that from the University of Idaho’s playbook. The design called for Smith to be the “tipper” – the one who tipped the pass to teammates.
But when Matthew Jensen’s pass air-mailed the entire Royal defense, Smith was alone in the back of the end zone and made the catch.
“It’s a play we practice every Thursday, but we had not used in a game,” Terry Jensen said. “It has been in our playbook for two years.”
Montesano was also the academic state champion for 1A. Other academic champions were Newport of Bellevue (4A), Eastside Catholic (3A), Hockinson (2A), DeSales (2B) and Colton (1B). … Ed Ploof, the Bellarmine Prep athletic director, handed out all six state winning and runner-up trophies. He is the District 3 representative on the WIAA executive board.News Tribune staff contributed to this report.