By David Krueger Herald Writer
The Marysville Pilchuck football team hasn’t had much trouble getting to 10-0 and making it to the first round of the Class 3A state tournament.
The Tomahawks also don’t have much trouble recalling the last team to beat them.
Marysville Pilchuck faces Eastside Catholic tonight in a rematch of a state quarterfinal game the Crusaders won 65-34 last season at Quil Ceda Stadium.
Suffice it to say, the Tomahawks have not forgotten.
“The way I look at it, I don’t want to say ‘revenge game’ because that sounds a little angry, but it kind of is a revenge game, because we lost 65-34 last year. We got our butts kicked by them. Badly,” Marysville Pilchuck center Ricky Jacobsen said. “And it’s kind of a revenge and redemption game and I’m extremely looking forward to the challenge.”
Added MP quarterback Jake Luton: “I want it so bad. More than anything. I’m so ready to beat them. That’s the last time we lost. We’re ready. Our whole team is ready to go. We want to beat these guys bad.”
After last year’s game Eastside Catholic defeated University before losing to perennial power Bellevue in the state championship.
“Without a doubt we gave — as we do to all of our opponents — we gave them their due,” running back Deion Stell said. “We broke it down and we accepted that we did not play very well. Little things like missed blocks and missed tackles. They’re a very good team. They almost won a state championship last year.”
This time around the host Tomahawks may be the favorites. In the final Associated Press prep football poll of the season Marysville Pilchuck was ranked third. Eastside Catholic was at No. 6.
But the Tomahawks aren’t taking their opponent lightly. They’ve seen firsthand what Eastside Catholic can do.
“They have a lot of the same guys. They really fly around defensively,” Marysville Pilchuck head coach Brandon Carson said. “They’re good on both sides of the ball. They have quite a few playmakers on offense.”
Carson said the Crusaders are a bit different this year, with a new quarterback who “probably doesn’t run as much” as senior Trey Reynolds did last season.
“They’re a little bit different,” Carson said. “but they’re equally as good as they were last year.”
The Tomahawks, meanwhile, say they’re a much improved team from the one the Crusaders saw in 2012.
“I think our defense has improved a ton. I think offensively we may be a bit more explosive, but we’re a lot more consistent,” Luton said. “… Early in the season most of our drives were four or five plays and then we capitalize off a 70-yard touchdown or something. But in the last few hard games you could see that we can put together 10-, 12- and 14-play drives and really take some time off the clock and score.”
The Tomahawks are coming off a strong all-around performance against Bishop Blanchet that saw Marysville Pilchuck return the opening kickoff for a touchdown, run an interception back for a score and put up five rushing touchdowns en route to a 48-21 victory.
But Marysville Pilchuck didn’t rest this past week because of its success.
“Every week we want to practice harder than we did the last week and we don’t want to stop,” Luton said. “There’s always room to improve. Last week was a good all-around game and we’re looking for the same thing, if not better, this week.”
According to Jacobsen, Marysville Pilchuck isn’t just going for a playoff win; it’s going for 11 wins for the first time in Tomahawks’ history.
“No team in MP history has ever won 11 games. Only two have ever won 10,” Jacobsen said. “We feel like just to win 11 games would be huge. And it would get us back to the quarterfinals and be able to push on further than we did last year.”
Joyner said Marysville Pilchuck is excited to be back to the 3A state tournament for the second straight year, and is eager to get a victory and return to the quarterfinals, where the winner of tonight’s game faces Meadowdale.
“It’s cool. This is two straight years for us. It’s becoming a habit,” Joyner said with a smile.
But the Tomahawks aren’t just trying to get to the quarterfinals. They want to get past where they finished last season, and make it all the way to the state championship at the Tacoma Dome.
“I want to get back to the state quarterfinals really bad, but I want to get past the state quarterfinals really bad too,” Luton said. “We’ve been there and we’ve seen Eastside Catholic. … We felt the playoff atmosphere. The Tacoma Dome and the semifinals were so close last year you could taste it, and this year we want it so bad.”
Eastside Catholic vs. Marysville Pilchuck
When: Today, 7 p.m.
Where: Quil Ceda Stadium
How they got here: MP (10-0) beat Blanchet 48-21; Eastside Catholic (8-2) beat Lincoln 41-21
Winner receives: Spot in quarterfinals against Meadowdale
Scoreczar pick: This is monster on monster and it’s a crime it’s a first-round game. The WIAA is somewhat infamous for these types of early round matchups. One would think they would do something about it, yet here we are waving goodbye too early to a team that deserves a better system. The numbers say it will be a battle and will come down to whomever has the ball last. Just wish it were in the T-Dome. Eastside Catholic, 31-30.
Swaney pick: E. Catholic, 37-33
Krueger pick: M. Pilchuck, 44-31
Lommers pick: M. Pilchuck, 63-42