The second week of the high school football season took place last Friday night for Snohomish County teams. Here are five takeaways from The Herald’s sportswriters after the Week 2 action:
The battle among Wesco 3A North’s top three teams should be exciting
Ferndale, Marysville Pilchuck and Arlington have all been impressive in 2-0 starts, but which of these squads will reign supreme in the conference after Week 8?
Ferndale staked its claim to being the favorite this past Friday against Class 2A powerhouse Lynden. The Golden Eagles, ranked 10th in 3A, took down 2A No. 2 Lynden, 35-25, for a statement victory that surely got the attention of their Wesco 3A North challengers. Ferndale’s Wing-T rushing attack totaled 356 yards and three touchdowns on 58 carries against a Lynden team coming off an impressive Week 1 win over Hockinson in a rematch of the 2018 2A state-title game. Ferndale outgained the Lions 423-206 in total offensive yardage and never trailed. That followed a convincing 55-36 victory over Monroe in Week 1. Ferndale has plenty of talent on the offensive line and in the backfield, highlighted by Isaiah Carlson, a four-star junior recruit who plays running back and linebacker, and three-star junior lineman Landon Hatchett.
Marysville Pilchuck was the slight favorite in the preseason coaches’ poll, and it’s done everything it can to hold on to that moniker. The Tomahawks, ranked eighth in 3A, have rolled to back-to-back blowout wins while outscoring opponents 101-21. Senior running back Dylan Carson has starred in Marysville Pilchuck’s Slot-T rushing attack and already has 526 rushing yards and 8 touchdowns. Junior Gaylan Gray and senior Jordan Velasquez have each added over 100 yards and two touchdowns. Marysville Pilchuck has yet to be tested, but it will get a chance to solidify itself next Friday when it faces 4A No. 8 Glacier Peak. Then, the defending league champs host Ferndale the following week in what should be a delight of a game for fans of smashmouth football. The winner will likely have the inside track on the league title unless something unexpected happens before.
That surprise could come from Arlington, which travels north this Friday to face Ferndale at Blaine High School. The Eagles have shown just how deadly quarterback Trent Nobach and his array of options at receiver can be. The senior QB has 10 touchdown passes without having to finish a game due Arlington piling up big leads early in wins over Wesco 3A South favorite Edmonds-Woodway and Oak Harbor. Six different Eagles have caught touchdown passes and three have 130 or more receiving yards. The defense has been excellent too. Arlington hasn’t allowed a point in the first three quarters of a game and has forced five turnovers. But the Eagles have yet to prove they can run the ball effectively. That’s something they’ll surely need to do against the likes of Ferndale and Marysville Pilchuck. Arlington had just 46 yards on 19 carries in Week 1 and 29 yards on 12 carries in Week 2. Those numbers are a bit deceptive because Arlington’s spread offense uses short passes on jet-sweep motions that are technically forward passes but work as outside running plays. Still, Arlington needs to find a way to run between the tackles and keep its defense off the field against physical teams like the Tomahawks and Golden Eagles.
“I wish we could run the ball a little better,” Eagles coach Greg Dailer said after a 54-0 win over Oak Harbor last Friday. “That’s something we’ve got to keep working on. We’ve gotta be able to run the ball against better teams.”
— Zac Hereth
Marysville Getchell shows promising signs with milestone start
The Chargers are 2-0 for the first time in their 11-year history and appear to be thriving in their new run-based offensive scheme after making the switch from a spread offense during the midway point of the 2019 season. Marysville Getchell is averaging 261 yards per game on the ground, led by senior Riley Riba who’s averaging 8.7 yards per carry with 330 yards and five touchdowns. The Chargers have also showed progress on defense. They allowed 35.2 points per game while facing a challenging schedule in the spring. Marysville Getchell has surrendered just 243 total yards and 21 points over two games this season. And last week’s 20-14 win over Mount Vernon put the Chargers in a prime spot to get secure one of the league’s five berths to a meaningful Week 9 crossover game.
The schedule gets much tougher this week when the Chargers square off with rival Marysville Pilchuck in the Berry Bowl. Marysville Getchell has lost all nine matchups in the series. Ending that streak Friday against the eighth-ranked Tomahawks on Friday will be a tall task, but a competitive performance will at the very least be another promising sign for the Chargers.
— Zac Hereth
Archbishop Murphy’s quarterback depth pays off in a big way
The 2A No. 9-ranked Wildcats have what coach Josh Jansen calls an “embarrassment of riches” at the quarterback position, with two starting-caliber passers in junior Kai Lewis and senior Colton Johnson. And this past Friday, that luxury paid off big time in Archbishop Murphy’s 27-17 non-league road win over Fife. After Lewis exited with an injury in the second quarter, Johnson came in and tossed three long second-half touchdown passes to lead the Wildcats to a comeback victory. “On a high school team, you typically don’t have two varsity-capable (starting quarterbacks) — and arguably two college football-level quarterbacks — on your team at one time,” Jansen said. “So we’re blessed to have that, without a doubt.”
Johnson threw TDs passes of 66, 87 and 56 yards and finished an incredibly efficient 4-of-6 passing for 211 yards and three scores. His most impressive throw was the 87-yarder to Jelani Guerrero in the fourth quarter. Johnson launched the pass from deep in his own territory and hit Guerrero in stride about 45 yards downfield, allowing the senior receiver to sprint the rest of the way for a go-ahead score. Johnson also did a nice job of finding open receivers downfield on his other two TD passes. And his receivers helped out by adding massive yardage after the catch, with Guerrero using a cutback move to race past defenders on his 66-yard score and Tyreek Curley breaking a tackle en route to his 56-yard game-sealing TD.
Johnson started the first three games of this past spring’s abbreviated season before Lewis took over for the final two games. Then after Lewis won the starting job heading into this fall, Johnson moved to receiver and caught a TD pass in Archbishop Murphy’s opener. But when his number was called to fill in at quarterback, Johnson was ready. “We’ve always known he was a great quarterback,” Jansen said. “And when his chance came to take snaps from behind center, he lit it up. He knows our offense well, he’s very poised and has good arm talent. And he executed when he got a shot.”
Jansen declined to specify Lewis’ injury or what his status is going forward. But even if Lewis misses extended time, the Wildcats should still be in good hands with Johnson under center.
— Cameron Van Til
COVID-19 wreaking havoc on schedules
Through the first two weeks of the season, there have already been at least five COVID-19-related cancellations involving local teams. Lake Stevens canceled its first two games — a pair of highly anticipated non-league showdowns against fellow 4A state playoff contenders Eastlake and Mount Si — after shutting down its program for 10 days as a result of COVID-19 protocols following two players testing positive. Lakewood had to find a new Week 1 opponent after its original opponent, reigning 2A state runner-up Steilacoom, canceled because of COVID-related issues. And this past week, Meadowdale and Lynnwood canceled their Week 2 league openers as a result of COVID-19 protocols after one person from each program tested positive. That left their opponents, Edmonds-Woodway and Snohomish, scrambling to find new matchups. Edmonds-Woodway ended up playing a non-league game against Emerald Ridge, while Snohomish pivoted to schedule Squalicum. However, Snohomish ultimately canceled that game because of “a large number of injuries” that left it “unable to field a complete team,” according to the school’s athletic director.
So if the first two weeks are any indication, it appears COVID-related cancellations are going to be a regular part of the season this fall. And for teams, simply staying on the field could end up being one of the biggest keys to having a successful year. To try to avoid cancellations, one of the most important things teams can do is make sure they have a high vaccination rate within their program. In the event of a positive COVID-19 case within a program, State Department of Health guidelines call for unvaccinated athletes, coaches, trainers and other personnel identified as close contacts to quarantine immediately, even if they recently received a negative test. Fully vaccinated close contacts don’t have to quarantine, as long as they don’t have any COVID-19 symptoms. Simply put: Programs with higher rates of unvaccinated individuals will likely have more individuals who will have to quarantine in the event of a positive case. And with football being such a position-specific sport, all it takes is one depleted position group to put a team’s ability to play in jeopardy. “We as a school district are continuing to encourage all of our students and student-athletes to get vaccinated,” Edmonds School District athletic director Angie McGuire said last week, following the Meadowdale and Lynnwood cancellations.
The other aspect of all these cancellations is the flexibility it requires from teams who, just days before their scheduled game, are suddenly left without an opponent. It leaves athletic directors scrambling to find replacement matchups on short notice. And after spending hours studying film and developing game plans for one opponent, coaches and players are having to scrap those plans and quickly prepare for a new team.
It’s also quite possible that cancellations throughout the season could have a significant effect on league standings — both in conference-title races and battles for postseason spots and seeding order. At their meeting this week, Wesco athletic directors plan to discuss how canceled league games will impact conference standings.
— Cameron Van Til
High schoolers are making a statement
Players in the NFL have made a statement by taking a knee during the national anthem. Some high school players are beginning to follow suit.
The protest, designed to highlight the unequal treatment of minorities by law enforcement, was spearheaded by former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick and has been emulated by many other NFLers. There had been little trickle down to the high school level, however, at least in Snohomish County.
It seems that may be changing, particularly in the wake of George Floyd’s death at the hands of law enforcement in Minneapolis in May of 2020. There were a handful of Seattle Prep players who took the knee when the Panthers traveled to face Archbishop Murphy in Week 1, and there were a handful of Mariner players who did the same before the Marauders faced Cascade on Friday.
It was young people who led the George Floyd demonstrations in Snohomish County in June of 2020, and now it’s young people who are making sure we don’t forget.
— Nick Patterson