MARYSVILLE — They came up short in their quest to win a third consecutive league title, but the Marysville-Pilchuck Tomahawks achieved a more important goal: Making the playoffs.
Sparked by its powerful offensive line and a variety of skilled running backs including junior Cody House and senior Kyle Miller, the Marysville-Pilchuck High School football team ran away from the pesky, pass-happy Monroe Bearcats and prevailed 63-31 on Friday.
On the final night of Western Conference 4A North Division games, M-P’s win on homecoming night at Quil Ceda Stadium — combined with Arlington’s victory over Snohomish and Lake Stevens’ triumph over Stanwood — means the Tomahawks (3-2 in division, 5-3 overall) are the North No. 2 seed for next week’s Wesco crossover seeding games.
“Knowing we’re in the playoffs, we feel really good right now,” said Marysville-Pilchuck coach Brandon Carson, whose team led 35-17 by halftime and outscored Monroe 21-7 in the fourth quarter.
House (120 yards rushing, four touchdowns) and Miller (110 yards rushing with a 77-yard TD) spearheaded an M-P offense that misfired on its only pass attempt but gained 441 yards on the ground.
It was an incredible contrast of styles, as Monroe’s aerial assault piled up more than 500 yards passing. Bearcats quarterback Joey Roppo was 35 of 56 passing with a school-record 516 yards and four TDs. Roppo was also intercepted three times.
“We knew they like to throw the deep ball and they do it well,” Carson said. “You’ve got to give credit to their receivers. They made big plays.”
Arlington (4-1 in division) is the North champion and Lake Stevens (3-2 in division) is the No. 3 seed because it lost head-to-head against M-P. Meanwhile, Monroe (3-2) entered the game in first place but dropped to fourth place because of its head-to-head losses against M-P and Lake Stevens.
The Bearcats came up short in their quest to qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 1992. Just the top three North teams advanced to the Week 9 Wesco crossover seeding games.
M-P will play South No. 2 seed Edmonds-Woodway in Marysville. E-W beat the Tomahawks 42-22 in Week 2 in a non-league battle in Edmonds.
“We’d like to redeem ourselves (after) the way we played against them the first time,” coach Carson said. “It’s going to be a battle but we’re excited.”
Fueled by its ever-powerful three-running back rushing attack, M-P gained 235 yards on the ground in the first half and scored five rushing TDs. The Tomahawks surged to a 35-10 lead when House scored on a 25-yard run with 1:38 to go in the second quarter.
House had an incredible first half. He rushed for 112 yards on seven carries, including TD runs of 6 yards, 56 yards and 25 yards.
Despite falling behind by 25 points, Monroe ended the first half on a positive note. Bearcats receiver Miguel Floresca-Cravens made a leaping 28-yard TD reception from Roppo on the final offensive play of the second quarter. Roppo’s point-after-touchdown kick made it 35-17 and Monroe appeared to go to the intermission with renewed hope.
Although he threw an interception that was returned 41 yards for a score by M-P’s Tyler Thompson in the second quarter, Roppo put up big numbers through the air in the opening half. He was 14 of 23 for 187 yards and two TDs.
But M-P kept putting up points and finally slowed down Monroe in the second half.
“We just believed we wanted it more than them,” Thompson said. “We knew we had to win.”
Defensive end Thomas Hoepper (three sacks in the second half) frequently sparked the Tomahawks’ defense.
Third-year Monroe coach Dave Telford praised his team for competing well and playing hard but the Bearcats simply could not solve M-P’s offense.
“We didn’t get enough stops,” said Telford. “When you give up 63 points it’s pretty hard to win.”
Three Monroe receivers finished with more than 100 yards receiving: Floresca-Cravens (139 yards, seven catches), Jake Pratt (161 yards, 12 catches) and Austin Mulholland (130 yards, 11 catches).
At Marysville-Pilchuck H.S.
Marysville-Pilchuck-House 6 run (Bluhm kick)
Monroe-Roppo FG 28
Marysville-Pilchuck-Merkt 40 run (Bluhm kick)
Marysville-Pilchuck-House 56 run (Bluhm kick)
Marysville-Pilchuck-Thompson 41 interception return (Bluhm kick)
Monroe-Pratt 7 pass from Roppo (Roppo kick)
Marysville-Pilchuck-House 25 run (Bluhm kick)
Monroe-Floresca-Cravens 28 pass from Roppo (Roppo kick)
Monroe-Pratt 41 pass from Roppo (Roppo kick)
Marysville-Pilchuck-Miller 77 run (Bluhm kick)
Monroe-Floresca-Cravens 25 pass from Roppo (Roppo kick)
Marysville-Pilchuck-Klep 1 run (Bluhm kick)
Marysville-Pilchuck-House 4 run (Bluhm kick)
Marysville-Pilchuck-Herbert 59 run (Bluhm kick)
Records-Monroe 3-2 in division, 3-5 overall. Marysville-Pilchuck 3-2, 5-3.
Mike Cane: email@example.com. Check out the prep sports blog Double Team at www.heraldnet.com/doubleteam and follow Cane on Twitter at MikeCaneHerald.