Michael Bejar escapes a tackle during Marysville Pilchuck’s stunning 49-14 rout of Glacier Peak last Friday night. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Michael Bejar escapes a tackle during Marysville Pilchuck’s stunning 49-14 rout of Glacier Peak last Friday night. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

5 takeaways from Week 4 of prep football in Snohomish County

Marysville Pilchuck steamrolled GP in stunning fashion, Lakewood possibly saved its season, and more.

This past week in Snohomish County high school football was highlighted by Marysville Pilchuck’s stunning rout of Glacier Peak and Lakewood’s potentially season-saving win over Squalicum.

Here are five takeaways from The Herald’s sportswriters after the Week 4 slate:

Marysville Pilchuck looks like a 3A state title contender after stunning demolition of Glacier Peak

Gaylan Gray ran for two touchdowns and added a pick-six while helping Marysville Pilchuck race to a 49-0 third-quarter lead over Glacier Peak last Friday night. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Gaylan Gray ran for two touchdowns and added a pick-six while helping Marysville Pilchuck race to a 49-0 third-quarter lead over Glacier Peak last Friday night. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Wow. In my six-plus years covering high school sports, Class 3A seventh-ranked Marysville Pilchuck’s 49-14 running-clock demolition of 4A seventh-ranked Glacier Peak last Friday night might’ve been the most stunning result I’ve witnessed. It wasn’t a shock that the Tomahawks won. But a 42-0 halftime lead against a 4A state-ranked team? A running clock for the entire second half? Even Marysville Pilchuck coach Brandon Carson admitted he never could’ve imagined that. “Never in my wildest (dreams) would I’ve thought we’d have a running clock at halftime,” Carson said after the game. “That’s a really good team over there.”

And that’s the thing. The Grizzlies, indeed, entered the night looking like a legitimate 4A top-10 team. They had outscored Snohomish, Monroe and Woodinville by a combined 134-47 margin in their first three games, including a 49-7 rout of perennial 4A state power Woodinville the week prior. But on Friday, Marysville Pilchuck absolutely obliterated them on both sides of the ball. Just how dominant was this performance? Midway through the third quarter, the Tomahawks extended their lead to 49-0. At that point, they had 329 total yards. Glacier Peak, meanwhile, was at minus-2 yards. Yes, you read that correctly — minus-2 total yards.

Marysville Pilchuck’s defensive masterpiece began with its ability to stop the run. Just one week prior, the Grizzlies ran at will, churning out 320 yards rushing against a Woodinville program known for its defense. But the Tomahawks completely bottled up Glacier Peak’s ground attack, holding lead back Trey Leckner to just 10 yards on nine carries — including minus-5 yards on his first seven carries. And with the Grizzlies’ run game virtually nonexistent, Marysville Pilchuck was able to neutralize their passing attack by providing relentless pressure on quarterback River Lien. The Tomahawks, who seemingly had a free blitzer in the backfield on almost every passing play, sacked Lien six times in the first half. They also came up with a pair of key turnovers, including a pick-six by Gaylan Gray. “The key was stopping the run game early,” Carson said. “And then we could kind of pin our ears back and (blitz) and keep their passing game under wraps.”

And on offense, Marysville Pilchuck showed once again what a nightmare its high-powered Slot-T rushing attack is to defend. The Tomahawks’ big, talented and experienced offensive line cleared large running lanes. Their quartet of explosive backs broke five gains of 20-plus yards. And with all the fake handoffs and deception it uses in the backfield, Marysville Pilchuck often left the Grizzlies struggling to decipher who even had the ball. It all added up to another massive stat line, with the Tomahawks amassing 343 yards rushing and 8.8 yards per carry.

Furthermore, Marysville Pilchuck showed that it’s not just the Dylan Carson show in the backfield. The star senior running back entered the night with 734 yards rushing, 12 touchdowns and an absurd 18.4 yards per carry. So naturally, Glacier Peak placed an emphasis on trying to slow him down. And with the Grizzlies biting on fake handoffs to Carson up the middle, that freed space for Gray, Jordan Velasquez and Michael Bejar to race for big gains around the edge. The Tomahawks nearly finished with three 100-yard rushers: Gray had 104 yards and two TDs on just four carries, Carson had 103 yards and two TDs on 16 carries, and Velasquez added 97 yards and two TDs on seven carries. “We knew they’d key on Dylan pretty heavily, and they did a good job on that,” Brandon Carson said. “And I think that opened up some things on the outside for Jordan and Gaylan and Mikey. (And) hats off to our offensive line. Holy cow. They did a good job.”

Through four games, defending Wesco 3A champion Marysville Pilchuck has outscored opponents by a combined 213-48 margin — including a whopping 185-13 in the first three quarters of those contests. And with this running-clock shellacking of a 4A top-10 team, the Tomahawks surely put the rest of the state on notice. So, just how good is this Marysville Pilchuck team? Can it contend for the 3A state title with powerhouses like O’Dea? After what the Tomahawks did Friday, it certainly seems like they could be a major factor in the 3A state championship conversation. “We’re pretty good,” Gray said. “I think this year’s our year.”

— Cameron Van Til

What happened to Glacier Peak?

Marysville Pilchuck’s defensive front provided relentless pressure on Glacier Peak quarterback River Lien last Friday night. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Marysville Pilchuck’s defensive front provided relentless pressure on Glacier Peak quarterback River Lien last Friday night. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

From Glacier Peak’s perspective, what transpired in the Grizzlies’ stunning 49-14 running-clock loss to Marysville Pilchuck last Friday was incredibly perplexing. Just one week prior, Glacier Peak steamrolled perennial 4A state power Woodinville in a 49-7 running-clock rout, which at the time seemed to be a statement win that validated the Grizzlies’ status as a legitimate 4A top-10 team. But the positive steps Glacier Peak took in the Woodinville triumph quickly went out the window Friday, as the Grizzlies were obliterated on both sides of the ball en route to a stunning 49-0 third-quarter deficit. “They just out-executed us,” Glacier Peak coach Shane Keck said. “They did some really good stuff on offense and got us off-kilter a little bit. And then their defense gave us problems. We weren’t able to run the football. And then when we tried to throw it, they were in our backfield and giving River pressure. So hats off to those guys.”

For the Grizzlies, the most concerning part of their performance came on offense. Midway through the third quarter, they had minus-2 total yards — a truly shocking number for any team, let alone a team like Glacier Peak that has 4A state playoff aspirations. Part of the Grizzlies’ offensive struggles could be chalked up to sloppiness. They lost a fumble on a botched handoff exchange that set up a Marysville Pilchuck touchdown. They threw a pick-six on an attempted screen pass. And there was a bad snap that almost resulted in another turnover deep in Glacier Peak’s own territory. But for the most part, the Grizzlies’ offensive line simply got manhandled by the Tomahawks’ defensive front. Running back Trey Leckner, who rushed for 183 yards against Woodinville, lost yardage on five of his first seven carries and finished with just 10 yards on nine attempts. And Glacier Peak struggled mightily in pass protection, surrendering six first-half sacks and leaving quarterback River Lien under siege all night. “We didn’t block very well,” Keck said. “We didn’t run the ball very well. And so you saw the results. Again, hats off to those guys. They did a great job preparing. We didn’t. And at the end of the day, that’s on me.” Glacier Peak’s defense, of course, didn’t play well either. But at least part of that can be attributed to the deceptiveness of Marysville Pilchuck’s Slot-T rushing attack, which is difficult for any defense to prepare for. So on a night when seemingly everything went wrong for the Grizzlies, their offensive woes stood out the most.

Looking at the big picture, Glacier Peak has been wildly inconsistent from week to week. The Grizzlies were sloppy and played what Keck said was “ugly football” in a 35-19 season-opening win over Snohomish. Two weeks later, they pummeled a top KingCo 4A program for one of their most significant wins in years. And then the very next week, they suffered a letdown of epic proportions against the Tomahawks. “We’ve gotta grow up,” Keck said. “We’re a young team and (are) learning how to be mature and play ahead and some of those things that we’ve just gotta grow into. And so there’s just some development that we’ve gotta get done as a program.”

— Cameron Van Til

We knew Northwest 2A was tough, but it looks even stronger 4 weeks into the season

Entering the season, there was little doubt that navigating the powerhouse-filled Northwest 2A football league was going to be a challenging task for any team. Four squads — Squalicum, Lakewood, Archbishop Murphy and Lynden — started the season ranked in the state’s top 10, and all four of those teams made the state playoffs in 2019.

Squalicum (1-2) was the preseason favorite in the Northwest 2A coaches’ poll. The Storm started the season ranked sixth in 2A were ranked second after Week 2. They took down top-10 1A squad Lynden Christian in their season opener. Yet Squalicum is 0-2 in league after losses to Lynden and Lakewood by a combined four points. The Storm look every bit the part of a top-10 team, and their 0-2 league record is proof of how tough the conference is.

Lakewood (2-2) has had an up-and-down start to the season. The Cougars, ranked third to start the season, lost their opener to 4A North Creek after original Week 1 opponent Steilacoom canceled due to COVID-related issues. Lakewood rebounded from its opening loss by knocking off Lynden Christian, but then suffered a lopsided 44-0 defeat to Sedro-Woolley after star quarterback Justice Taylor left early in the game with an injury. That loss knocked the Cougars out of the top 10, but they responded in a big way last week by holding on for a 14-13 victory over Squalicum to even their league record at 1-1.

Archbishop Murphy, No. 9 at the start of the season, is one of three teams yet to suffer a league loss. The Wildcats, now No. 6, are 1-0 in conference play after beating Sehome in Week 3. Archbishop Murphy is 2-2 overall with both losses coming to top-10 squads in higher classifications — 3A No. 3 Seattle Prep and 4A No. 3 Lake Stevens. The Wildcats are in a spot where they control their own destiny, but they still have league games with three top-10 teams on their schedule.

And Lynden (3-1) has had the most impressive start of the league’s preseason top-10 teams. The 2A No. 2 Lions already have top-10 victories over Hockinson and Squalicum, and they’re one of two teams in Northwest 2A with a 2-0 league record. The Lions only loss came to 3A No. No. 9 Ferndale.

After four weeks, a couple more teams have emerged as serious challengers.

Sedro-Woolley (4-0), ranked eighth in 2A, was picked to finish sixth in the seven-team league in the preseason coaches’ poll. Now, the Cubs appear to be one of the favorites after a blistering start to the season. Sedro-Woolley is tied with Lynden for first place in the league at 2-0 and is the only team in Northwest 2A that hasn’t suffered a loss overall. The Cubs have posted three shutouts and scored 42 or more points in each game.

And Burlington-Edison (2-1) showed this past week that it’s a force to be reckoned with after nearly beating second-ranked Lynden in a 38-35 loss that was decided by a fourth-quarter field goal. The Tigers were picked to finish last in the preseason coaches’ poll, but now they appear to be in the thick of things after an impressive start.

Add all of this up, and the last five weeks of play in Northwest 2A is going to be exciting to watch.

— Zac Hereth

Lakewood’s win over Squalicum was possibly a season-saver

After exiting the previous week’s game with an injury, Justice Taylor returned last Friday night and helped lead Lakewood to a major bounceback win over Squalicum. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

After exiting the previous week’s game with an injury, Justice Taylor returned last Friday night and helped lead Lakewood to a major bounceback win over Squalicum. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

It isn’t often that a team’s Week 4 game is a must-win scenario. But when you’re a team with state playoff aspirations in the ultra-competitive Northwest 2A football league, each and every game carries significant meaning — especially after you’ve already lost a conference game.

That was the scenario Lakewood found itself in this past Friday when it headed into a showdown with 2A No. 5 Squalicum. The Cougars were coming off a 44-0 blowout loss against Sedro-Woolley, a game in which Lakewood lost standout quarterback Justice Taylor early due to injury. But Taylor returned last week, and the Cougars’ defense delivered a clutch bounce-back performance against Squalicum and its Washington State-bound running back Djouvensky Schlenbaker.

Taylor gave Lakewood the spark it needed on offense. He found Blake Conyers for touchdown passes of 26 and 40 yards and accounted for 100 of the Cougars’ 241 yards on the ground. Lakewood led 14-7 after Taylor connected with Conyers for a score just before time expired in the first half. Squalicum scored in the fourth and tried for the lead with a 2-point attempt, but the Cougars came away with a key stop and later survived a game-ending Storm drive that made it all the way to the Lakewood 5-yard line before time expired.

The win was a big one for the Cougars for two reasons. First, they avoided an 0-2 start in league play. That means Lakewood is guaranteed to at least catch every team but Sedro-Woolley if it wins its final four league games. Another loss would hurt, but it also wouldn’t mean the end of Lakewood’s playoff hopes. An 0-2 start would have put the Cougars in a situation where one more conference loss could’ve easily put them out of playoff contention. Second, Squalicum is now 0-2 in league and Lakewood holds the advantage in a tiebreaker scenario. The Storm have come up just short in two challenging conference games now, and could certainly turn things around and win their next four league contests. If Squalicum can do just that, it would mean they’d beat Sedro-Woolley and Archbishop Murphy — two teams ahead of Lakewood in the standings.

— Zac Hereth

Kamiak enters Wesco 4A play with county-best 8-game win streak

It’d probably surprise most local prep football fans to know that Kamiak holds the longest active win streak of any team in Snohomish County. The Knights have won eight consecutive games, with a perfect 4-0 record during this past spring’s abbreviated season and a 4-0 start this fall. It’s been quite the turnaround under fourth-year coach Bryant Thomas, who has helped flip the program’s trajectory after Kamiak suffered through three consecutive one-win seasons from 2017 to 2019.

The caveat is the Knights’ strength of schedule hasn’t been nearly as difficult as some other teams. Last spring, Kamiak faced Everett, Mariner, Jackson and Cascade. And this fall, the Knights have played Stanwood, Shorewood, Everett and Cascade. But that being said, Kamiak has been dominant against the teams it has faced. Last spring, the Knights outscored opponents by 28.5 points per game and won every contest by at least 17 points. And this fall, they’ve averaged 50.3 points per game, while outscoring opponents by 34.8 points per contest and winning every game by at least 27 points. All-purpose senior standout Wesley Garrett has led the way, racking up 893 yards from scrimmage, 10 TDs and 22.9 yards per offensive touch. And junior Ben’tre Worthy has been efficient at quarterback, completing 24 of 31 passes for 620 yards, nine TDs and two interceptions.

The Knights open Wesco 4A play against Jackson this Friday before facing Glacier Peak, Mariner and perennial power Lake Stevens in consecutive weeks. If Kamiak finishes in the top three of the five-team Wesco 4A, it would earn its first Week 10 playoff berth since 2014.

— Cameron Van Til

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