Football Preview - Hazen Highlanders vs Ferndale Golden Eagles

Highlanders return to Civic Stadium for the first time since 1991.

Who - Hazen Highlanders (5-4) vs Ferndale Golden Eagles (8-1)

What - 3A Quad-District playoff (winner places Lincoln/Bellevue winner)

When - Saturday, November 3, 7 p.m.

Where - Civic Stadium in Bellingham

Radio/Webcast - KPUG AM (pre-game starts at 6:35 p.m.)

Twitter - Renton Patch (live tweets before, during and post-game)

Prior Playoffs - Hazen lost to Capital last year in the 3A first round 47-0; Ferndale lost to O'Dea 31-10 in 2010, they were 3A championship in 2005 and are 23-18 overall in tournament play.

The Highlanders return to Civic Stadium 21 years after the they beat Sedro Woolley 27-13 in the first round of the 2A state football championships. It's a different team from then with the running game of Joe Glaefke and Jordan Abdullah who combine for 2218 total offense.

Quarterback Tony Nipert can provide a pass attack if needed to multiple receivers, including Kyle Nelson (who also does punt returns). Kicker Sam Bunnell is 27 for 27 on extra point attempts this season. He is also 2 for 2 on field goals, with his longest of 35-yards last week against Renton.

Hazen's defense, lead by Cody Moorhead, has allowed the second fewest yards rushing in the Seamount League, which is good considering Ferndale likes to run the ball with Alex Conley, who has rushed for 1,175 yards on 116 carries and scored 26 touchdowns. Last week he had three touchdowns and 131 yards rushing.

The Golden Eagles also have other rushers including Richmond Baardson, Daniel Jones and Marcus Nightingale. Last week Ferndale used 12 different rushers for a total of 462 yards on the ground.

"The team I'm seeing from Ferndale is like looking in a mirror.  They are tough, physical and do most of their work on the ground.  I told the guys earlier this week, it's not going to be a beauty contest, just some smashmouth football in the November rain," said Hazen head coach Drew Oliver.

Hazen has seen Ferndale on tape to include how Lynden gave the Golden Eagles their only loss of the season. Hazen can and should move the ball against the Ferndale defense.

"Offensively, it's important that we start fast.  It would be nice to put this team into a hole early that they are having to dig out of," said Oliver. "Defensively, I think we need to get multiple guys to the ball and tackle well, they get a lot of yards after contact.  I also, think creating turnovers always helps tilt the game in your favor, especially when so evenly matched."

The Highlanders have had close games this season where they should have won (Liberty, Lindbergh, Bainbridge). Hazen could be 8-1, their current record of 5-4 doesn't reflect the potential this team has. If they stop the Ferndale run, Hazen wins 38-21. If Ferndale runs up and down the field, it could be a long bus ride home.

Patch Pick - Hazen 38-21

ScoreCzar - Ferndale 32-15

Hazen's season:

W - Franklin Pierce 37-28

L - Liberty 25-22

W - Highline 50-21

L - Lindbergh 10-9

L - Kennedy Catholic 35-0

W - Evergreen 48-6

L - Bainbridge 21-20

W - Foster 56-7

W - Renton 38-7

Ferndale's season

W - Notre Dame (BC) 49-21

W - Sehome 35-39

W - Garfield 62-12

W - Burlington Edison 55-14

W - Squalicum 41-14

W - Sedro Woolley 55-14

W - Bellingham 56-0

L - Lynden 49-14

W - Anacortes 55-14


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