Random Recap: 1976 Game 7, Meridian 31—Mt. Baker 18 (Meeting #2)

1976 Game 7:  Meridian 31, Mt. Baker 18 (Meeting #2)

From the Bellingham Herald:

Meridian Outslugs Mount Baker, 31-18

Bob Ames was talking to the officials before Friday night’s Whatcom County League football game between his Meridian Trojans and the Mount Baker Mountaineers:

“They (Mount Baker ) have a pretty good team.  I don’t think we’ll have any trouble.  It should be a pretty clean game.”

So much for prophecy.  Ames had best stick to coaching.

Clean it was not.  In fact, at times it threatened to get so dirty that detergents, laundry additives and “stronger than dirt” products would throw in the towel–and a dirty towel at that.

The two teams combined for 194 yards in penalties and nearly as many punches as a Muhammad Ali championship fight.  Meridian came up with some of the biggest football-type punches, however, to take a 31-18 WCL decision.

The win kept the Trojans at the top of the league and assured Ames his first winning season as a head coach.  Meridian is now 6-1.

“What happened, I think,” reflected Baker coach Bob Wilkinson, “was that they (Meridian) had a couple of guys playing pretty rough in the first quarter.  That ruffled the feathers on a few of our guys.  I don’t think it got out of hand, but there was a lot of shoving going on.”

One Mountie, Dan Tyler, was ejected and a couple more players from each team barely escaped the same fate.  Neither coach, however was angry at his counterpart.

“You never think your guys are doing it,” Ames said, “but we’ve got films to look at and if any of our guys were playing dirty, we’ll catch them.  It just got a little hot out there.  I was pleased with some of our discipline, though.  We could have had a couple of big fights and our guys just walked away.”

That discipline is what Ames feels is the key difference between a team that went 0-10 last year and is 6-1 now with basically the same personnel.

The Trojans, of course, have a little talent to back up that discipline.  Sophomore Dudley Nightingale rambled for 105 yards and a touchdown and quarterback Ken Shockey ran for another and completed five passes for 139 yards and two more scores.

The Meridian defense also sacked Mount Baker quarterback Marty Wilburn six times and pressured quite a few throws.  When Wilburn did get the time, the Mountaineer junior completed 10 passes for 174 yards and all three Baker scores.

“I thought we played hard and well,” Wilkinson said, “but it wasn’t a well-executed game for us.  We keep beating ourselves.  A lot of those penalties were stupid–just fundamental things done wrong.”

The game was a contrast of sorts.  Fans were funneled to the field through the Baker fieldhouse, and the first thing one sees upon entering that dome are several pictures of championship MB grid teams.  In past years, Baker-Meridian games were usually Mountie routs.

But Friday, the Trojans fans jammed the south sidelines while the Baker fans were clumped together in sparse patches, with big gaps of empty hardwood benches.

“It’s a great feeling,” Ames said.  ”I’m seeing people I never knew graduated from Meridian.  But we’re not claiming the championship yet.  We figure we’re 2-0 in the second half and we’ve got three tough games left.  We’re a good, solid tam but we’ve got to keep proving it.”

The Trojans proved it enough on Friday night.  They used big plays to set up every touchdown.  They then finally shut off a determined Mountie upset bid by breaking away from a 19-18 margin via a 78-yard screen pass from Shockey to Doug Larson for a touchdown and a 31-yard scoring run by Jeff Gorsenger.

The win also avenged Meridian’s only loss of the season.

Stat Stars

Ken Shockey
Passing:  5-10, 139 yards, 2 tds, 1 int
Rushing:  15-72, 1 td
Punt Returns:  3-0

Dudley Nightingale
Rushing:  18-105, 1 td

Doug Larson
Receiving:  2-79, 1 td
Punt Returns:  1-2
Punting:  4-132

Dale Wasel
Receiving:  2-50, 1 td
Kick-off Returns:  1-8

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