ARCHBISHOP MURPHY (11-1) vs. TUMWATER (10-2)
When: noon, Saturday
Where: Sparks Stadium (Puyallup)
Radio: KRKO 1380 AM
Archbishop Murphy: 1st in Cascade Conference; beat Lakewood 43-7 in Week 10 playoffs, beat River Ridge 47-7 in state first round, beat North Kitsap 28-21 in state quarterfinals
About the Wildcats: Defending state champion Archbishop Murphy survived a tough test from North Kitsap in last week’s 28-21 quarterfinal win. After rallying from a six-point halftime deficit, the Wildcats’ defense made a late fourth-down stop inside their own 10-yard line to secure the victory and earn their third consecutive state-semifinal berth. Archbishop Murphy has outscored opponents by 30.8 points per game this season, with its lone loss coming in a non-league defeat to 3A state semifinalist Bellevue. The Wildcats allow just 12 points per game and have held seven opponents to seven points or less. Senior running back Ray Pimentel has rushed for 2,084 yards and 28 touchdowns, averaging 10.4 yards per carry. Two-way senior standout Kyler Gordon, ranked by 247Sports as the third-overall senior recruit in the state, has intercepted five passes on defense and showcased electrifying talent as both a receiver and ball carrier. The big-time college prospect has totaled 1,372 yards and 17 touchdowns on offense while averaging 20.5 yards per touch. Gordon had the deciding score in last week’s quarterfinal win, rushing for a highlight-reel 55-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. Archbishop Murphy is making its seventh state-semifinal appearance in the last decade and is seeking its fifth trip to the 2A state title game in program history.
Tumwater: 1st in Evergreen 2A; beat Washougal 55-0 in Week 10 playoffs, beat Lynden 23-21 in state first round, beat Steilacoom 23-13 in state quarterfinals
About the Thunderbirds: Tumwater is making its sixth state-semifinal appearance in the last eight seasons and is seeking its fifth trip to the state championship game during that span. The Thunderbirds have outscored their opponents by an average of 28.8 points per game this season, with their two losses coming in non-league defeats to 3A state semifinalist Bellevue and 4A state qualifier Union. Two-way senior lineman Cy Hicks, the Evergreen 2A’s Most Valuable Player, paves the way for a Tumwater rushing attack that averages 341 yards per game and 6.9 yards per carry. The Thunderbirds’ high-powered ground game features sophomore Dylan Paine, who leads Thurston County and the surrounding area in rushing with 1,454 yards and 24 touchdowns. Connor Clark, a senior transfer from Olympia, has intercepted five passes and returned two for touchdowns. He also has rushed for 533 yards and 15 scores. Led by Hicks and Clark, Tumwater allows just 12.5 points per game and has held six opponents to seven points or less.
Herald pick: Archbishop Murphy
ARCHBISHOP MURPHY-TUMWATER STATE HISTORY
Saturday’s matchup marks the sixth time in eight seasons that Archbishop Murphy and Tumwater have met in the 2A state playoffs. Below is a rundown of the teams’ previous five state-playoff encounters.
2016: Archbishop Murphy won 48-10 in quarterfinals
2015: Tumwater won 24-21 in semifinals
2012: Tumwater won 21-0 in quarterfinals
2011: Archbishop Murphy won 41-6 in first round
2010: Tumwater won 34-14 in title game