LAKE STEVENS — The Lake Stevens High School football team entered its season opener with three starting offensive linemen on the sidelines with injuries.
For most teams, that’d be an issue when facing a Ferndale squad led by University of Washington-bound two-way standout lineman Geirean Hatchett.
Not for the Vikings.
Lake Stevens showcased its vast array of talent and thoroughly dominated on both sides of the ball with a 55-0 dismantling of the visiting Golden Eagles in Friday night’s season-opening non-league clash.
“I was impressed with our ability to come out and kind of impose our will on the line of scrimmage,” Vikings head coach Tom Tri said. “We had a few injuries with our O- and D-line, and so we struggled a little bit this week at practice kind of moving some guys around to kind of fill for a couple guys that were out. … Our young bucks really answered the bell.”
Entering with sky-high expectations after returning a slew of talent from last year’s Class 4A state runner-up team, Lake Stevens (1-0) opened the season with a nearly flawless performance.
The Vikings outgained Ferndale 550-43 in total yardage and scored touchdowns on all eight of their possessions, excluding a game-ending kneeldown.
“When you’re able to throw and run, you kind of can do what you want and have success,” Tri said. “… It was a good first game for us.”
JELLISON’S IMPRESSIVE DEBUT
Lake Stevens junior quarterback Tanner Jellison excelled in his first career varsity start, completing 18 of 21 passes for 298 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.
Jellison connected with Kasen Kinchen and Skyler Reyna for a pair of long first-quarter touchdown passes, giving the Vikings an early 21-0 lead.
Near the midway point of the third quarter, the 6-foot-5 quarterback showed nice touch on a 13-yard scoring pass to Max Moenoa that extended the margin to 41-0 and put the running clock into effect.
“For a first-time starter, I was really impressed with his ability to see the field, take care of the football, get the ball out to open guys on time and not get hit,” Tri said. “He looked like a savvy veteran out there. … He had a great game.”
Jellison got some help from his deep and talented receiving corps, especially on the two long first-quarter touchdown passes.
On the first one, Kinchen burst past a Ferndale defensive back and hauled in Jellison’s pass before racing down the right sideline for a 75-yard touchdown. Kinchen, a two-way standout and Pac-12 cornerback recruit, finished with four catches for a team-high 94 yards.
Later in the opening quarter, Jellison lofted a jump ball to Reyna down the right sideline. The senior receiver fought off the defensive back to make a contested grab, then made two more defenders miss on his way to the end zone for a 45-yard touchdown.
“He’s amazing,” Jellison said of Reyna. “The quickness of him after a catch like that to miss defenders, it’s incredible.”
Jellison completed passes to seven different receivers.
“Having that many skill-(position) guys and being able to throw the ball to them is amazing,” he said.
BACKUP LINEMEN STEP UP
Lake Stevens got more bad news with its offensive line when the team found out earlier this week that starting right tackle Colt Spiegel had torn his anterior cruciate ligament and would be out for the season.
The Vikings were already without Washington State University-bound left tackle Devin Kylany, who tore his ACL in February and is working toward a possible late-season return. Wyatt Hall, set to be the team’s four-year starting center, also has been out with an injury.
So with three starting offensive linemen sidelined for the opener, Lake Stevens was counting on backups such as sophomore center Anthony Simoneaux to help fill the voids. And they certainly rose to the occasion.
The Vikings’ offensive line imposed their will on the Hatchett-led defensive front, clearing lanes for a rushing attack that totaled 252 yards on 7.6 yards per carry.
Senior running back Dallas Landeros led the way with 14 carries for 102 yards and three touchdowns, including a 20-yard scamper up the middle on a third-down direct snap to cap the game’s opening drive.
“Our guys really stepped up tonight,” Tri said of his young linemen. “(They) did a great job of knowing their responsibilities, having great pad level, running their feet and finishing in our run game.
“And when you’re able to do that, that’s going to bring linebackers and safeties into the box, and that opens up our play-action and our ability to throw the ball deep.”
Lake Stevens completely bottled up Ferndale’s Wing-T ground attack, limiting the Golden Eagles to just 15 yards rushing on 23 carries.
The Vikings held Ferndale to just 43 total yards, with 30 of those yards coming on one pass. The Golden Eagles (0-1) managed just 1.5 yards per play.
“I really thought our D-line controlled the line of scrimmage,” Tri said. “… And because our D-line was able to control the line of scrimmage, our linebackers had free runs to the ball for most of the game.”
Lake Stevens travels to Tacoma for a non-league showdown against talent-laden Lincoln, which reached the 3A state playoffs last season and features five of the state’s top 90 senior recruits according to 247Sports. The Vikings rolled past Lincoln 38-21 in last year’s Week 2 clash.
Ferndale hosts archrival and perennial powerhouse Lynden, which is coming off a trip to the 2A state title game.