Glacier Peak’s Trey Leckner runs the ball as Snohomish’s Brayden Ulrich attempts a tackle Friday night at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Snohomish. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Glacier Peak’s Trey Leckner runs the ball as Snohomish’s Brayden Ulrich attempts a tackle Friday night at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Snohomish. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

5 takeaways from Week 1 of prep football in Snohomish County

Arlington rolled to an impressive win, Glacier Peak has plenty to clean up, and more.

The high school football season kicked off last Friday night for Snohomish County teams. Here are five takeaways from The Herald’s sportswriters after the Week 1 action:

Nobach, Arlington make statement in rout of Edmonds-Woodway

After a rough 2-3 spring season that included a shutout loss to Monroe and blowout losses to Marysville Pilchuck and Snohomish, the Eagles are looking to bounce back this fall and prove they belong once again in the Wesco 3A North championship discussion. And on Friday night, they sure made quite the opening statement. Arlington rolled to an impressive 35-7 rout of Edmonds-Woodway, which was coming off a 5-0 spring and entered this season as the favorite in the Wesco 3A South coaches’ poll.

The Eagles benefited greatly from the return of standout senior quarterback Trent Nobach, who missed nearly the entire spring season with a broken collarbone. In his first game back from injury, Nobach completed 22 of 28 passes for 308 yards, four touchdowns and one interception, while leading Arlington to a 35-0 halftime lead against an Edmonds-Woodway defense that allowed just 20 points combined during the five-game spring slate. Nobach, who had a strong 2019 season as a sophomore first-year starter, already appeared poised for a big year after placing fourth in the senior division of the Northwest 9 Showcase quarterback competition last month. And judging by his brilliant season-opening performance, he certainly seems well on his way to establishing himself as one of the state’s top quarterbacks this fall.

But it wasn’t just Nobach. During an interview last week, Nobach raved about his deep and talented receiving corps. And that praise definitely seemed warranted Friday night, after a trio of Arlington senior wideouts each finished with 80-plus yards receiving. Levi Younger led the way with 101 yards and two touchdown catches, while Gage Price and Elisha Jackson each added 80 yards and a touchdown. And not to be outdone, the Eagles’ defense also had a strong showing. Arlington held Edmonds-Woodway scoreless through the first three quarters and limited the Warriors to just 172 total yards and 3.6 yards per play — quite the feat, given that Edmonds-Woodway averaged 39.4 points per game this spring.

Yes, it’s only one game. But with a dominant season-opening performance on both sides of the ball against a quality opponent, the Eagles certainly look like they’ve turned the page on a forgettable spring and are ready to make some noise this fall.

— Cameron Van Til

Glacier Peak has plenty to clean up after ‘ugly’ rivalry win

The Class 4A No. 9-ranked Grizzlies stayed perfect against their crosstown rival, beating Snohomish 35-19 for their 10th consecutive win in the series since the schools began playing in 2012. But the expectations are particularly high for Glacier Peak this fall. And for a preseason 4A top-10 team looking to reach the state playoffs, the Grizzlies know they need to play much better than they did Friday night. “We were really bad tonight, honestly,” Glacier Peak coach Shane Keck said after the game.

The Grizzlies, who graduated star running back Ryan Black and standout quarterback Tyson Lang, struggled to move the ball for much of the night and were outgained 391-333 in total yardage. Three of Glacier Peak’s five touchdowns were set up by short fields on possessions that began inside the Snohomish 25-yard line. Another came on a long touchdown that was a result of broken coverage by Snohomish’s defense. So aside from that, the Grizzlies really only had one sustained scoring drive.

Glacier Peak also squandered far too many scoring chances, which allowed Snohomish to hang around after the Grizzlies built a 21-0 first-half lead. Glacier Peak had five possessions inside the Snohomish 30-yard line in which it came up scoreless, including three turnovers on downs. One of the other empty trips came on an ugly sequence of three consecutive sacks — the latter two a product of bad snaps — that pushed the Grizzlies all the way back into a fourth-and-54 situation. “We just didn’t execute,” Keck said. “We turned the ball over. I don’t know how many penalties — we might’ve had 10 or 12. We didn’t score down here in the red zone, which is the most important thing we can do. It was just ugly football.”

From a talent perspective, Glacier Peak flashed signs of being a potential top-10 team at the 4A level. Junior quarterback River Lien showed promise in his starting debut. Trey Leckner, a transfer from Snohomish who led the Panthers in receiving this past spring, was a physical force at running back. The Grizzlies have a big and experienced offensive line. Their receiving corps is tall and skilled. And aside from surrendering a few big plays, their defense looked like a stout unit.

But to truly challenge perennial power Lake Stevens in Wesco 4A and other elite 4A teams when the postseason comes around, Glacier Peak can’t afford to make anywhere near as many mistakes as it did Friday night. To compete with those teams, it will take a considerably sharper and more consistent performance. The Grizzlies will look to clean things up this Friday against Monroe before facing 4A state powerhouse Woodinville in Week 3.

— Cameron Van Til

Lakewood, Murphy losses show difference between classifications

The Lakewood and Archbishop Murphy football teams have high expectations this year with hopes of making it through the brutal Northwest 2A Conference and back to the state playoffs. Those expectations haven’t changed after Week 1 losses, but both squads on Friday got a taste of the difference between the level of play in 2A and the state’s larger classifications.

The third-ranked Cougars and ninth-ranked Wildcats struggled to find answers defensively in their matchups with larger schools. Lakewood allowed 4A North Creek to rack up all 59 of its points over the first three quarters in a 59-35 loss, and Archbishop Murphy couldn’t find a way to stop do-it-all Seattle Prep quarterback Braeden Smith in a 41-18 loss to the No. 2 squad in 3A.

Neither loss should be discouraging, but both teams likely have a lot to work on if they want to make their state-playoff aspirations a reality, especially after conference foes second-ranked Lynden and No. 6 Squalicum came away with impressive Week 1 wins. The Cougars and Wildcats will have something to prove in Week 2 with another set of challenging games. Lakewood travels north to take on Lynden Christian, ranked No. 3 in 1A, and Archbishop Murphy heads south for a matchup with 2018 2A state semifinalist Fife.

— Zac Hereth

Small schools have plenty to be excited about after resilient wins

Sultan and Granite Falls provided two of the most exciting finishes in Week 1 with each program coming away with down-to-the-wire victories after trailing for most of their respective games.

The Turks faced their largest deficit of the game heading into halftime down 30-19 after surrendering four long touchdown runs to Evergreen (Seattle) running back Rico Jerez-Sosa. But Sultan had an answer of its own in running back Derek Feltner. The 5-foot-10, 154-pound sophomore ripped off three of his five TD runs during the second half, including a go-ahead 47-yard score and 54-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter to seal Sultan’s 50-42 victory in a wild shootout with the Wolverines that featured over 1,000 yards of total offense and nearly 100 points scored.

The Tigers orchestrated their own fourth-quarter comeback against East Jefferson, a team comprised of players from Chimacum and Port Townsend high schools. Granite Falls took its first lead of the game at 14-13 in the fourth on a long touchdown run before a late TD by East Jefferson made it 19-14. The Tigers stopped a crucial two-point conversion attempt after the score and quickly marched back down the field to set up senior Gio Gonzalez’s game-winning 3-yard TD run in the final minutes that made it 20-19.

The victories should serve as strong confidence builders for both squads after going a combined 1-9 in the spring, and both can now set their eyes on 2-0 starts. The Turks last accomplished that feat in 2016 and the Tigers in 2007.

— Zac Hereth

Teams are at different stages of conditioning, and it’s a factor

Early in the season it’s always interesting to see where teams are at with their conditioning, and that’s even more true this year because of the way the coronavirus pandemic shortened the 2020-21 season and is affecting preparations for this school year.

It was a big factor in Friday night’s game between Archbishop Murphy and Seattle Prep, as the Wildcats had several players forced off the field by cramps while the Panthers had none. A game that was close through two-plus quarters turned into a rout as Seattle Prep won 41-18.

“It was big, and that’s on me as the coach,” Archbishop Murphy coach Josh Jansen said when asked how much fatigue played a role in the outcome, noting that the team had to be more disciplined about keeping itself hydrated. “That’s all I can say, we have to do a better job with that.”

— Nick Patterson

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