Here are three takeaways from The Herald’s sportswriters after Week 6 of the Snohomish County high school football slate:
A flurry of blowouts highlights the large gaps in talent level
Lopsided scores have been commonplace among Snohomish County prep football teams in recent years. And that was especially the case this past week. All 14 games involving local teams were decided by at least 16 points, including eight by more than 35 points.
In nearly all of the local leagues, there’s a wide gap in talent level between the top and bottom teams. And there’s also often a sizeable gap between the top teams and the middle-tier teams, and another gap between the middle-tier teams and the bottom teams. The result? A whole lot of blowouts.
So far, 23 of the combined 29 conference games (79%) in the three Wesco leagues this season have been decided by at least 20 points. And when also including the Northwest Conference 2A and Emerald Sound Conference, 32 of the combined 43 league games (74%) from the five local leagues have been decided by 20-plus points. Below is a breakdown of the scoring margins in each local league.
Wesco 4A: There have only been three league games so far in Wesco 4A, but the average margin in those contests is 37.3 points. All three games were decided by at least 29 points.
Wesco 3A North: The average margin in Wesco 3A North league games is 31.7 points. Twelve of the 15 league matchups have been decided by at least 20 points, including 10 by at least 34 points.
Wesco 3A South: The average margin in Wesco 3A South league games is 28.9 points. Six of the 11 league matchups have been decided by at least 41 points.
Wesco independents: Cascade, Everett and Shorewood each decided to play an independent schedule this season in an effort to play more competitively balanced matchups. But even among these three teams, there haven’t been many close games. The average margin in their games is 22.8 points, with 12 of their combined 17 games decided by at least 20 points.
Northwest Conference 2A: The one exception to the trend of lopsided matchups is the highly competitive Northwest Conference 2A, which includes Archbishop Murphy and Lakewood. The seven-team league, which features four 2A top-10 teams, has an average margin of 15.5 points in conference games. Four of the 10 games in this talent-laden league have been decided by three points or fewer.
Emerald Sound Conference: The Emerald Sound Conference has an average margin of 41.0 points in its four league games so far. All four games were decided by at least 33 points.
— Cameron Van Til
Lakewood’s state hopes are likely done, and Archbishop Murphy’s took a hit in the ultra-tough NWC 2A
Lakewood and Archbishop Murphy each saw their postseason hopes damaged, to varying degrees, with costly Northwest Conference 2A losses Friday night. Lakewood rallied to take a third-quarter lead against Class 2A No. 3-ranked Lynden, but then surrendered 28 unanswered second-half points and fell 42-19. For the Cougars, the loss likely eliminates them from state-playoff contention out of the brutally tough Northwest Conference. Meanwhile, 2A No. 9 Archbishop Murphy fell to 2A No. 10 Squalicum in a 26-6 loss. For the Wildcats, their loss leaves them with little remaining margin for error.
The path to the 2A state playoffs out of the Northwest Conference is an arduous one. In the most recent Associated Press 2A state poll, the talent-laden league accounted for five of the top 11 teams: Lynden (No. 3), Sedro-Woolley (No. 5), Archbishop Murphy (No. 9), Squalicum (No. 10) and Burlington-Edison (the leading vote-getter outside of the top 10). However, the Northwest District is allotted just two 2A state berths for football this season. That means just the top two finishers in the Northwest Conference 2A standings will advance to state, while several other likely state-playoff-caliber teams will be left out.
In previous years, the district has held Week 10 winner-to-state playoff games to determine its state berths. But this year, the Northwest Conference is using Week 10 to play any games that were postponed because of COVID-related issues, if those games could still have an impact on who advances to state. So far, two league games have been postponed: Archbishop Murphy vs. Sedro-Woolley and Burlington-Edison vs. Sehome.
Midway through Northwest Conference 2A play, Lynden is atop the seven-team league standings at 3-0 and Sedro-Woolley is 2-0. They’re followed by Squalicum at 2-2, Archbishop Murphy at 1-1 and Burlington-Edison at 1-1. Lakewood is 1-3 and Sehome is 0-3.
With three league losses, Lakewood is all but eliminated from state-playoff contention. Even if the Cougars beat Sehome and Archbishop Murphy to finish 3-3 in conference play, it’s highly unlikely they’d be able to sneak into some sort of tiebreaker situation for one of the league’s two state berths.
Archbishop Murphy, meanwhile, is still alive. But in order to nab one of the two state spots, the Wildcats would probably have to win out. And that won’t be easy. Archbishop Murphy’s remaining schedule consists of Burlington-Edison, Lynden and Lakewood in consecutive weeks, followed by a possible makeup game against Sedro-Woolley in Week 10.
— Cameron Van Til
Granite Falls, South Whidbey emerge as contenders for Emerald Sound Conference playoff berths
Expectations heading into the season were that King’s and Cedar Park Christian’s Week 9 matchup would end up deciding who claims the Emerald Sound Conference title this fall. The defending champion Knights won last season’s de facto championship game against Cedar Park Christian 13-10, and the teams have combined to win the past three league titles dating back to the start of the North Sound Conference in 2018.
King’s has solidified its spot as the conference favorite after being picked to finish first in the preseason coaches’ poll. The Knights have marched out to a 6-0 (1-0 league) start and climbed up to No. 5 in the Class 1A state rankings. They’ve scored 43 points or more in five games and outscored teams by an average of 35.7 points per contest. But the Eagles, picked second, have fallen off with an 0-6 (0-2 league) start while scoring just 17 points all season, making way for a pair of new contenders to fight for one of the two postseason berths from the league. Granite Falls and South Whidbey each hold blowout wins over Cedar Park Christian and appear to be the top challengers for King’s down the stretch.
The Tigers (4-1, 2-0 league) hold a half-game advantage over South Whidbey and King’s in the standings. Dual-threat senior quarterback Riley Hoople has nine touchdowns this season (five rushing, three passing, one receiving), senior running back Keldyn averages 9.4 yards per carry with 478 yards and six touchdowns and the Tigers’ defense has held its opponents under 20 points in four of five games.
The Falcons (4-2, 1-0) are holding opponents to a league-best 11.8 points per game and get the first crack at King’s when they travel to Shoreline on Friday. The winner of that game will move into a tie for first place with Granite Falls, which plays a non-league game against Vashon Island this week. The Tigers face the Knights at home the following week. If state-ranked King’s continues to roll, a Week 9 clash between the Falcons and Tigers at South Whidbey High School will likely determine which of those two squads can secure an important second-place finish in the conference. South Whidbey won this past spring’s matchup 27-26.
— Zac Hereth