By Mike Cane Herald Writer
Propelled by a dominant offensive line and a prolific rushing attack, the Marysville-Pilchuck Tomahawks roar into the playoffs.
It should. The past two years the Marysville-Pilchuck High School football team used a nearly identical formula to catapult into the postseason. However, even though there are obvious similarities between M-P head coach Brandon Carson’s 2008 and 2009 teams and the schools’ current squad, major differences exist.
For example, look at how M-P got to the playoffs this fall. Unlike ‘08 and ‘09 when the Tomahawks dominated in the regular season and compiled back-to-back perfect records in division games, this year the team stumbled several times. M-P’s 2010 team has three losses, including Western Conference North Division defeats against Arlington and Snohomish.
The latter loss, it seems, was a big wakeup call. Since then, M-P has three straight wins by a combined point total of 136-72, including victories against two playoff squads: Lake Stevens and Edmonds-Woodway. Over its past two contests — a 63-31 league win over Monroe and a 35-20 Wesco crossover seeding game triumph versus E-W — M-P’s three-running back offense piled up more than 900 yards rushing.
Last week against E-W, which drilled M-P 42-22 back in Week 2, the Tomahawks achieved an incredible feat: Four players (RB Kyle Miller, RB Tyler Thompson, RB Cody House and QB Tylor Klep) rushed for at least 100 yards apiece. That well-rounded approach is a departure from the last two years, when high-profile back Austin Denton was the clear star.
M-P coach Carson praised the team’s offensive line, led by massive senior left tackle Zach Schumann.
“Our line really played well the last three weeks,” Carson said. “They’ve stepped it up and done a good job. We’re really proud of them.”
Now the question is: Can they keep it up?
On Saturday, Wesco No. 3 seed M-P (6-3) plays South Puget Sound League South Division No. 3 seed Bethel (6-3) in a quad-district playoff game. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at M-P’s Quil Ceda Stadium.
Bethel has an explosive offense (37.9 points per game) guided by outstanding QB Justin Hordyk, who has passed for 25 TDs and nearly 2,200 yards.
“I’m hoping that we can slow them down a little bit,” said Carson. “They’ve put up a bunch of points this year and we’ve definitely got to find a way to stop that.”
One way M-P can slow down Bethel is by holding onto the ball — something the Tomahawks have been much better at in recent games — and grinding out long scoring drives. Carson has faith in his team’s O-line, which returned just one starter (Schumann) this year but is peaking at the right time. M-P’s other linemen are left guard Klint Ramsey, center Adam Hoffenbacker, right guard Steven Hassan, right tackle Ross Lyons and tight end Kyle Bluhm.
“They’ve really started to jell as of late,” Carson said, “and they’re really making some good line calls up front. They’re just believing that every play’s going to get us a huge chunk of yardage.”
Real home-field advantage for Tomahawks, finally
Unlike the past two years when M-P played “home” playoff games at Everett Memorial Stadium and Snohomish’s Veterans Memorial Stadium, this year the Tomahawks get to play at their true home, Quil Ceda Stadium. The reason: M-P’s renovated field now has artificial turf and is suitable for postseason games.
“I think it gives us a huge advantage to host,” Carson said. “We’ve played pretty darn well there, so we’ll see what happens.”
Despite injuries, Arlington is still alive and kicking
Some observers might have figured Arlington’s season was essentially over when injuries knocked out three of the team’s best players last month, but the Eagles regrouped and won the Wesco 4A championship last week. On Saturday, Arlington (7-2) plays SPSL No. 5 seed Graham-Kapowsin (6-4) in a quad-district game. Kickoff is at 1 p.m. at Quil Ceda Stadium in Marysville.
Arlington coach Greg Dailer likes how sophomore quarterback Skylor Elgarico has been playing and how Elgarico’s teammates immediately supported the young QB when he took over for injured starter Blake McPherson.
“Elgarico never feels like he’s on his own,” Dailer said. “He’s got his team with him and that’s truly why we’re continuing to have success.”
Also aiding Elgarico’s cause is Arlington’s powerful O-line: Brandon Allen, Brady Quinton, Adam Dallman, Adam Roehl and Hayden Love. They were fearsome in the Wesco title game against Jackson and helped replacement running back Colton Hordyk rush for four TDs and more than 200 yards.
Readers says Lake Stevens’ Nelson is area’s best QB
In a recent Herald online reader poll, the question was: Which local high school football player is the best quarterback? The winner, with 40.3 percent of the votes, was Lake Stevens junior Jake Nelson. Check out complete poll results at http://tinyurl.com/2e38pnq.
Using his arm and his legs, Nelson helped Lake Stevens beat Mariner last week in a loser-out Wesco 4A crossover game. Lake Stevens’ reward: a 4A quad-district playoff game on the road against second-ranked Curtis (9-0). That game is at 7:30 p.m. tonight.
Glacier Peak has tough matchup vs. Mount Si
Don’t let the seeding or win-loss records fool you: KingCo No. 4 seed Mount Si (5-4) is a powerful team with a legitimate chance to beat Wesco 3A champion Glacier Peak (8-1). The teams play a 3A quad-district playoff at 7:30 p.m. tonight at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Snohomish.
“Mount Si is the real deal,” Glacier Peak coach Rory Rosenbach said.
Mount Si has a powerful running game and challenged several highly ranked teams this season, including 3A No. 1 Bellevue, 3A No. 4 Juanita and 4A No. 5 Bothell.
Lakewood coach knows opponent well
For the first time in program history, ninth-ranked Lakewood (7-2) will host a 2A playoff game. The Cougars play Northwest Conference No. 3 seed Burlington-Edison (6-3) at 7 p.m. tonight at Dick Cardinal Stadium. Lakewood coach Dan Teeter has numerous connections to Burlington-Edison: He lives in the Skagit Valley and drives by B-E’s campus every time he commutes to Lakewood. Also, Teeter attends a church in Burlington and his grandma, Myrtle Benson, was a secretary at B-E High for many years.
Meadowdale is still missing at least seven former starters who were suspended for athletic-code violations that occurred during the Mavericks’ homecoming weekend, Meadowdale coach Mark Stewart said. The players were not available for Meadowdale’s crucial Wesco 3A game at Oak Harbor last week (which the Mavs won 41-20) and won’t play when Wesco No. 2 seed Meadowdale (6-3) plays Bonney Lake (7-2) in a 3A quad-district game at 7 p.m. Saturday at Edmonds Stadium. … Wesco runnerup Jackson (4-5) won’t have standout two-way starter Trai Patrick (hand injury) when it plays No. 9 Eastlake (7-2), the KingCo 4A No. 4 seed, in the 4A quad-district playoffs at 7 p.m. Saturday at Everett Memorial Stadium. Patrick, a versatile junior running back/linebacker/safety, had surgery on his injured right hand on Tuesday and is out this week, Jackson coach Joel Vincent said. … Check out the preliminary-round playoff brackets involving local teams at http://tinyurl.com/22s29se.
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.