Here are three takeaways from The Herald’s sportswriters after Week 7 of the Snohomish County high school football slate — including a look from both sides of Arlington’s upset over Marysville Pilchuck:
Arlington makes major statement with upset of Marysville Pilchuck
Arlington shook up the Wesco 3A North race with a stunning 28-14 upset of Class 3A third-ranked Marysville Pilchuck on Friday night. And in the process, the Eagles announced their presence as a team that looks capable of doing some serious damage in the 3A state playoffs.
To fully appreciate what Arlington did Friday night, you first have to understand just how utterly dominant Marysville Pilchuck had been. The Tomahawks had cruised to running-clock routs in each of their first six games. They’d outscored opponents by an eye-popping 276-13 margin in the first three quarters of their contests. They’d stormed to a 49-0 lead over 4A No. 10 Glacier Peak and a 42-0 lead over 3A No. 8 Ferndale. They looked every bit the part of a state-title contender. But on Friday night, the Eagles (6-1, 5-1 Wesco 3A North) controlled the game on both sides of the ball and made Marysville Pilchuck look rather ordinary.
The biggest key was Arlington’s ability to bottle up the Tomahawks’ explosive Slot-T ground attack. Marysville Pilchuck came in averaging 383 yards rushing per game and a whopping 11.8 yards per carry. But the Eagles matched the physicality of the Tomahawks’ big offensive line. They weren’t fooled by all the deception and fakes of Marysville Pilchuck’s offense, which left previous opponents often struggling to decipher who had the ball. And they made every yard difficult for Dylan Carson and the Tomahawks’ stable of talented backs, limiting Marysville Pilchuck to 233 yards rushing and an average of just 4.2 yards per attempt. The Tomahawks, who’d been gashing defenses for long touchdown runs all season, mustered just two rushes of at least 10 yards and none longer than 19 yards. It was quite the contrast from the teams’ past two matchups, when Marysville Pilchuck ran wild for a combined 84 points. “Unbelievable,” Arlington coach Greg Dailer said of his team’s defense. “They were so disciplined. And we’ve been harping that for years with this group. Two years ago when they were all sophomores and Marysville kicked the piss out of us, we just weren’t making any of our reads. We just weren’t doing what we were supposed to do. Now they’ve grown and matured and they see it and they fly to the football. And it’s just so much fun to watch.”
Arlington was similarly impressive on offense, scoring 28 first-half points against a Marysville Pilchuck defense that hadn’t allowed a single first-half point in its first six games. Standout senior Trent Nobach shook off two early interceptions and showed why he’s one of the top quarterbacks in the state, expertly orchestrating the Eagles’ fast-paced aerial attack while completing 20 of 29 passes for 245 yards and two TDs. Nobach’s go-ahead 41-yard TD pass to Elijah Jackson in the second quarter — when he rolled right, threw on the run and lofted a perfectly placed deep ball over two defenders and into Jackson’s hands — was probably one of the best throws I’ve seen from a high school quarterback. And for Arlington’s offense, perhaps the most encouraging development was its abililty to break two big runs. The Eagles hadn’t gotten much production on the ground this season, having entered the night with just 50.8 yards rushing per game in their pass-heavy attack. But senior running back RJ Gese scored on TD runs of 16 and 74 yards against Marysville Pilchuck’s stout defense, showing that Arlington is capable of producing big gains on the ground too. Dailer said Gese’s 74-yarder was one of several instances that the Eagles subbed in some of their bigger defensive linemen to play offensive line. He said they sometimes do that in running situations to give them more size up front. “It’s a little bit of a tell we might run it, but we’ve got these big, strong, senior (defensive linemen),” Dailer said. “… When we put ‘em in on O-line, we’re able to run the ball a whole lot better.”
Prior to Friday night, Arlington was flying under the radar. That was largely due to the Eagles’ lone loss of the season — an 18-17 defeat to Ferndale in Week 3. Ferndale won that game on a long TD pass and ensuing go-ahead 2-point conversion in the final minute. And Dailer said that game was significantly impacted by stormy weather, which made it difficult for his team’s pass-heavy offense to operate. “This is no offense to Ferndale, but if it’s not pouring sideways with 40 mph wind, we beat them by two or three scores,” Dailer said after Friday night’s win over Marysville Pilchuck. “And that’s just the facts. It’s no offense to them, but after watching them on film and playing against them, I think that’s what would’ve happened. So we weren’t surprised that we had a chance to beat MP. But I think everyone else is.”
After Friday night, Arlington certainly won’t be flying under the radar any more. And as for the Wesco 3A North race, the Eagles created what’s likely to be a three-way tie for first place atop the league standings — assuming that Marysville Pilchuck (6-1, 4-1) beats Oak Harbor and Ferndale (6-1, 4-1) beats Marysville Getchell in their league finales this week. In that likely event of a three-way tie, Wesco 3A North’s postseason seeding will be determined by the league’s preseason numerical draw. According to the Wesco handbook, Ferndale would be the No. 1 seed, followed by Arlington as the No. 2 seed and Marysville Pilchuck as the No. 3 seed.
— Cameron Van Til
Marysville Pilchuck was simply outplayed in stunning loss to Arlington
Marysville Pilchuck came into Friday night looking like one of the favorites for the 3A state title, having obliterated each of its first six opponents in running-clock fashion. But in their stunning 28-14 loss to Arlington, the 3A third-ranked Tomahawks didn’t even look like the best team in their league. On both sides of the ball, Arlington simply outplayed Marysville Pilchuck and controlled the game.
After gashing previous opponents for a whopping 11.8 yards per carry over their first six contests, the Tomahawks couldn’t get their high-powered Slot-T rushing attack going against the Eagles’ defense. Marysville Pilchuck’s big offensive line wasn’t able to create the type of push it had in previous games. And the bevy of fakes in the Tomahawks’ deceptive offense didn’t work on Arlington’s defenders, who stayed disciplined and poised throughout the night. As a result, there simply wasn’t much running room for Marysville Pilchuck’s talented backfield. The Tomahawks mustered just 4.2 yards per carry and broke just two rushes of 10-plus yards and none longer than 19 yards. Star running back Dylan Carson, who had to scratch and claw for seemingly almost all of his 146 yards, finished the game with just 4.6 yards per carry — significantly fewer than the 14.1 yards per attempt he entered the night with.
And on the other side of the ball, Marysville Pilchuck’s defense looked vulnerable against Arlington’s pass-heavy attack. The Tomahawks hadn’t allowed a first-half point all season, but surrendered 28 first-half points to the Eagles. And it very well could’ve been 35 first-half points, if not for a fluky red-zone interception that bounced off a helmet and into the hands of a Marysville Pilchuck defender on Arlington’s second possession. The Eagles moved the ball with ease in the first half and hit big gains both through the air and on the ground, finishing the night with a healthy 8.4 yards per play. The Tomahawks did well to shut out Arlington in the second half. But by that point, the damage was done.
And now, Marysville Pilchuck will likely go from being the No. 3-ranked team in its state classification to the No. 3 seed in its own league. The Tomahawks likely will finish in a three-way tie with Arlington and Ferndale atop the Wesco 3A North, which means the postseason seeding order would be determined by the league’s preseason numerical draw. And according to the Wesco handbook, the draw would place Marysville Pilchuck as the league’s No. 3 seed. However, the No. 3 seed would only apply to the Tomahawks’ Week 9 crossover game, which would pit them against the Wesco 3A South’s No. 5 seed. This year, the state’s seeding committee will seed teams for the winner-to-state Week 10 playoff round.
— Cameron Van Til
League title and playoff hopes on the line all around Snohomish County in Week 8
This week’s slate of prep football games will feature some of the most meaningful contests this season as conference championships and Week 10 playoff berths will be on the line for teams in a handful of games. There’s a possibility that both Wesco 3A North and Wesco 3A South could finish with three-way ties for first place. A game this Tuesday will go a long way in deciding who gets one of Wesco 4A’s three Week 10 berths. Squads tied for first place in the Emerald Sound Conference square off. And the chaotic race in Northwest 2A features a trio of important clashes. Here’s a look at some of the implications of this week’s games:
Wesco 4A: Kamiak faces Mukilteo School District rival Mariner on Tuesday after their game was postponed last week. It’s simply a must-win game for each team. The Knights (5-0, 1-0 league) would close in on their first Week 10 playoff berth since 2014 by positioning themselves for a top-three finish in the league with a victory. They’d need another win or a Jackson loss to clinch. But if the Marauders (3-3, 0-2) win, they move into a tie in the win column with Kamiak and get the head-to-head advantage in a tiebreaker scenario. The Knights face the tough task of playing Lake Stevens three days later in their league finale and will be heavy underdogs. Mariner finishes it’s conference slate with a favorable matchup against Jackson next Friday. And Glacier Peak (5-1, 1-0) can secure a top-three finish with a win over Jackson (2-5, 0-2). There are some scenarios that involve Lake Stevens losing, but 48 straight wins in Wesco 4A indicates that likely isn’t happening anytime soon.
Wesco 3A North: Arlington (6-1, 5-1 league) is done with conference play and currently holds a half-game advantage over Marysville Pilchuck (6-1, 4-1) and Ferndale (6-1, 4-1). Each team holds a 1-1 record against one another. Both MP (vs. Oak Harbor) and Ferndale (vs. Marysville Getchell) will be heavy favorites in their matchups this week. In the highly probable scenario of a three-way tie for first, Wesco 3A North’s postseason seeding will be determined by the league’s preseason numerical draw. According to the Wesco handbook, Ferndale would be No. 1, Arlington No.2 and MP No. 3. That would mean the Tomahawks, who hold dominant victories over top-10 teams in Class 4A and 3A, would host a win-or-go-home Week 9 crossover game against the No. 5 seed from Wesco 3A South. The top two teams in each league play are guaranteed a Week 10 playoff berth regardless of their results in crossover games. The fourth and fifth seed in the league will also be decided Friday. Stanwood (3-4, 2-3) and Oak Harbor (3-4, 2-3) have already claimed those spots but the order isn’t set. The Spartans can seal up the No. 4 seed with a victory over winless Mount Vernon or an Oak Harbor loss. Oak Harbor would need a Stanwood loss and a major upset victory over MP to move into the fourth spot.
Wesco 3A South: The three-way tie in Wesco 3A South would happen if Monroe beats Snohomish this week and Edmonds-Woodway wins a favorable matchup against Mountlake Terrace. In a tiebreaker scenario that would need to use the preseason numerical draw, Monroe would get the No. 1 seed, E-W the No. 2 and Snohomish the No. 3. None of that matters if Snohomish wins. The Panthers (4-2, 4-0 league) can clinch their third straight Wesco 3A South crown with a victory. A Panthers win would give Edmonds-Woodway (4-3, 3-1) the No. 2 seed and Monroe (4-3, 3-1) the third seed. A Monroe win and an Edmonds-Woodway loss would give the Bearcats a league title. Mountlake Terrace will also be trying to avoid falling into a tie for fifth with Shorecrest. The teams didn’t play this season due to their scheduled matchup being canceled. Snohomish athletic director Mark Perry said on Thursday that the outcome of tie scenarios without a clear tiebreaker have yet to be determined and that Wesco athletic directors would form a committee to address those situations if they happen.
Northwest 2A: It’s no secret that some high-caliber teams are going to miss out on the state playoffs in Northwest 2A. Who those teams will be is still far from being decided. With two weeks of games left and another week of potential makeup contests after that, there’s too many scenarios to go through. But Snohomish County squads Archbishop Murphy and Lakewood are both in dire situations. The Wildcats (3-4, 1-2 league) face 2A No. 2 Lynden (6-1, 4-0) this Friday and need a win to keep a realistic shot of claiming one the league’s two state playoff berths. The Cougars (2-4, 1-3) are all but eliminated at this point. Lakewood needs to win out starting with its game against Sehome on Friday and get help from other teams over the next three weeks to hope for a massively chaotic — and unlikely — scenario where five teams tie for second at 3-3 in league play.
Emerald Sound Conference: Preseason favorite King’s visits Granite Falls in a first-place showdown of league unbeatens Friday. If the 1A No. 7 Knights (7-0, 2-0 league) win, they clinch a league title and one of the league’s two state playoff berths. That would force the Tigers (5-1, 2-0) into a likely winner-to-state showdown with South Whidbey (4-3, 1-1) next Friday. The Falcons have a favorable matchup with Sultan (3-4, 1-2) this week and need a win to force that scenario. If the Tigers win, they’ll take over sole possession of first place and would clinch a league title with a South Whidbey loss to Sultan or a win over the Falcons next week. Sultan could force a three-way tie for second if it beats South Whidbey and Granite Falls loses twice.
— Zac Hereth