By Aaron Swaney Herald Writer
When the Archbishop Murphy football team lines up against Bremerton tonight in a state playoff opening-round game, it’ll be tasked with stopping one of the best natural athletes it has faced all season.
Fortunately for the Wildcats, they have Steven Kane on the job. The Murphy middle linebacker will be keeping an eye on Bremerton signal-caller Mikey Lawrence in hopes of containing the dual-threat QB.
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“Mikey Lawrence is a phenomenal athlete and we’re going to have to bottle him up,” Archbishop Murphy coach Mike Pluschke said. “Steven will always have an eye on him and (be) making sure the defense knows where that kid is at all times.”
Using a blend of speed and toughness, Kane was all over the field Friday night in helping keep Squalicum’s offense in check during the Wildcats’ 44-16 win.
“I know they say it all the time but he truly is the quarterback of our defense,” Pluschke said. “He checks us into different fronts and gets everybody in the right spots.”
Pluschke said from Day 1 this season Kane took on the mantle of leadership and was a key figure in bringing the players together on that side of the ball.
“Steven is a really good communicator and he has a lot of energy and that helped create a kind of brotherhood of the defense,” Pluschke said.
Two other key players on the defense are lineman Dakota Creed, who Pluschke called physical, nasty and tough, and defensive back Ryan Kouchakji. “Ryan is a very smart football player,” Pluschke said.
Archbishop Murphy vs. Bremerton
When: Tonight, 7 p.m.
Where: Silverdale Stadium, Bremerton
Records: Bremerton 7-0 Olympic League, 9-1 overall, No. 9 in AP poll; Archbishop Murphy 4-2 Cascade Conference, 7-2 overall, No. 8 in AP poll.
Scouting report: Bremerton
How they got here: In its first trip to the playoff since 1993, the Olympic League champs beat Renton 26-0 in the West Central District playoffs to advance to state.
Player to watch: Mikey Lawrence, QB: The Knights quarterback has accounted for 30 touchdowns this season and will be counted on heavily in Bremerton’s piston offense.
Biggest win: Bremerton 37, Kingston 0. The Knights all but locked up an Olympic League title with this impressive win over Kingston, which eventually finished second behind Bremerton and advanced to state last week.
Key to the game: Bremerton will be without one of its best players, running back/linebacker Andrew Shadle, who will have to sit out tonight’s game because he was ejected from the Renton game. Shadle is second on the team in tackles and rushing yards. Archbishop Murphy will have to do exactly what it did against Squalicum in the bi-district game last week, take it to Bremerton on the ground early and often and play physical defense. The teams have just one common opponent: North Kitsap. Murphy had little trouble with North Kitsap in a 42-21 win in the season opener and Bremerton beat rival Vikings by just a touchdown.
Pick: Archbishop Murphy 37, Bremerton 27