As the Bothell High Blue Train continues to roll along the state’s football tracks, the Cougars have made many successful stops on their epic journey.
To prepare for Saturday’s 4A state championship game at Mount Tahoma Stadium in Tacoma, Bothell was invited to practice at the Seattle Seahawks’ facility, the Virginia Mason Athletic Center, in Renton on Tuesday evening.
It’s an all-encompassing once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, said Cougar 6-foot senior tight end/linebacker Blake Bickhaus the following day before practice at Bothell High.
Bickhaus said that training on the VMAC’s indoor field and riding the bus to the facility meant “more fun bonding experiences with players and friends.”
After beating 4A KingCo and Northshore rival Woodinville, 31-21, in the semifinals at a raucous and jam-packed Pop Keeney Stadium on Nov. 30, fifth-seeded Bothell (11-2) will take on second-seeded Camas (13-0) at 4 p.m. Saturday for the state crown.
“We’re all locked in. We enjoyed the win, of course, but we’re in the state championship, and this is the biggest game of our lives, (so) we’re really focused on doing as best we can, going out there and playing as hard as we can together,” said Bickhaus, whose team defeated Woodinville twice this season.
The Cougar notched all-4A KingCo Crown first-team honors on defense at outside linebacker and second-team honors on offense at tight end, putting an exclamation point on those accolades by snagging an interception and making two big catches against Woodinville in the semis.
“I love playing football with my best friends, that’s pretty much what gets me going,” Bickhaus said of his team’s success.
They play hard and they play together, said Bickhaus, adding that when everyone gives their 1/11ths worth of effort, good things will happen. He cited an example of teammate Ryan Metz scooping up a fumble against Woodinville in the semis and returning it for a touchdown.
Bickhaus remembers thinking about his gridiron future during a flag football game as a youngster on the old grass field by Pop Keeney Stadium. He doesn’t recall what teams were playing on the main field, but something clicked as he glanced over at the action.
“(I was) just looking at them and saying, ‘Oh, that could one day be me,’” he said.
After years of hard work, the state final awaits Bickhaus and his teammates.
The Reporter asked Bickhaus a series of questions to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse into his life:
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Someone told me once, “A wise man once said nothing at all.” I think that translates to football, too. There’s so much trash talking, so much emotion. Just keeping calm and keeping to yourself sometimes can be an advantage to not get too distracted. There’s penalties, there’s all that type of stuff… you just keep it to yourself, stay motivated inside and you’ll be fine.
Do you have any kind of a routine getting ready for games?
Me and a couple of the football guys, we go down to Subway every (Friday) before the game. We order the same thing, eat together. (He favors the chicken bacon ranch sandwich. “That’s the stuff,” he added.)
What’s your biggest pet peeve?
I would say people who think it’s cool to not try. It’s cool to try. It can become annoying when people don’t, especially in a school environment.
Do you have something that’s unique about yourself that maybe someone doesn’t know about?
I don’t have a tooth right here (pops out a replacement tooth).
How’d that happen?
I was born without it. No crazy story, no fight or anything like that (laughs).
What’s your dream vacation spot?
Bora Bora, clear water down there.
What super power would you like to have?
Teleportation, so you can just go from here to there really fast.
What’s your favorite kind of music?
I like a lot of music, but probably just hip-hop, R & B, that type of stuff.
What inspires you each day?
My parents and everything they’ve done for me and the positions they put me in, opportunities and just how supportive they’ve been. I’d say that motivates me to be better and do stuff for them.