The Snohomish County high school football season reached its midway point last Friday night. Here are five takeaways from The Herald’s sportswriters after the Week 5 slate:
Edmonds-Woodway stays alive in Wesco 3A South race, and may have found a go-to playmaker
Edmonds-Woodway picked up a 33-28 win over Monroe in a key Wesco 3A South clash last Friday night. And in the process, the Warriors may have found a go-to playmaker on offense. Senior running back Aaron Barraza delivered a breakout performance and lifted Edmonds-Woodway to victory with 197 yards and four touchdowns on 22 carries — including a pair of long, electrifying fourth-quarter scores.
Barraza received just 20 carries through the Warriors’ first four games, splitting the workload as part of a three-man backfield. But Edmonds-Woodway leaned on him in the second half Friday, with Barraza rushing for 182 yards and three TDs on 15 carries over the final two quarters. For Warriors coach John Gradwohl, his only regret was not making Barraza a bigger focal point sooner. “We should’ve gotten to him a lot (earlier). He’s running hard. And the fullbacks did a great job. The line did a great job. But you can see he’s got great vision,” Gradwohl said. He then added with a laugh: “And it just took me way too long to figure it out.”
Barraza showcased exceptional vision, shiftiness and speed on his three second-half TDs. Midway through the third quarter, he weaved his way through the defense for a 13-yard score. And in the fourth, he broke TDs of 38 and 59 yards to turn a one-point deficit into a 12-point lead. On both fourth-quarter scores, he took a handoff up the middle, bounced outside, raced down the left sideline with blazing speed and dived inside the pylon for highlight-reel runs. “He just runs extremely hard,” Monroe coach Scott Darrow said. “We saw him on film, but they hadn’t really used him like they did (Friday) night, obviously. They run counter really well. … And he’s just tough to tackle.”
With the victory, Edmonds-Woodway stayed alive in the Wesco 3A South title race. The Warriors improved to 2-1 in league play with the win, while Monroe dropped to 1-1 in league play. Both teams trail first-place Snohomish — which is 2-0 in league play — in what’s expected to be a three-team battle for the Wesco 3A South crown. Edmonds-Woodway already played Snohomish, falling 21-14 to the Panthers on Sept. 17. Monroe, meanwhile, faces Snohomish in an Oct. 22 regular-season finale. Barring any upsets, if Snohomish beats Monroe, then the Panthers would likely claim their third consecutive Wesco 3A South title, while Edmonds-Woodway would likely finish second and Monroe would likely finish third. If Monroe wins that game, then the three teams would likely finish in a three-way tie atop the league standings.
— Cameron Van Til
Marysville Pilchuck makes another massive running-clock statement
Another week, another running-clock rout for Marysville Pilchuck. And for the second consecutive week, it came in an epic dismantling of a state-ranked team. After their stunning 49-14 demolition of then-Class 4A seventh-ranked Glacier Peak the previous week, the Tomahawks provided an encore last Friday night by cruising to a 49-15 blowout of 3A sixth-ranked Ferndale. This clash of league-title contenders was billed as the game of the year in the Wesco 3A North. But just like the previous week against Glacier Peak, Marysville Pilchuck turned a showdown of top-10 teams into a one-sided beatdown.
The Tomahawks have won all five of their games in running-clock fashion, outscoring opponents by nearly 40 points per contest. They’ve outscored teams by a whopping 227-13 margin in the first three quarters of their games. And in particular, what they’ve done over the past two weeks is nothing short of extraordinary. Glacier Peak and Ferndale both came in looking like legitimate top-10 teams in their respective classifications. And Marysville Pilchuck completely obliterated both teams, racing to a 49-0 third-quarter lead against Glacier Peak and a 42-0 third-quarter lead against Ferndale. It’s one thing to put up those types of scores against Shorecrest, Stanwood and Marysville Getchell — as the Tomahawks did in their first three games. But to do so against top-10 opponents in back-to-back games? After the past two weeks, Marysville Pilchuck looks like a legitimate 3A state title contender.
Furthermore, what makes the Tomahawks so dangerous is how dominant they are on both sides of the ball. On offense, their Slot-T rushing attack averages 52.4 points per game and is an absolute nightmare to defend. It’s hard enough for defenses to match the size and physicality of Marysville Pilchuck’s big offensive line. And it’s hard enough to match the speed and explosiveness of the Tomahawks’ talented quartet of ball carriers. But on top of that, defenses also have to contend with all the fakes and misdirection in Marysville Pilchuck’s deceptive offense, which can make it difficult to decipher who even has the ball. The result has been an unstoppable ground attack that’s put up video-game numbers, including an eye-popping 1,062 yards rushing and 19 TDs from lead back Dylan Carson. And defensively, the Tomahawks have been equally impressive. Marysville Pilchuck has posted first-half shutouts in all five of its contests, including shutdown performances the past two weeks against a pair of high-scoring teams. Against Glacier Peak, the Tomahawks came up with six first-half sacks and held the Grizzlies to minus-2 total yards midway through the third quarter. And on Friday, they bottled up Ferndale’s Wing-T attack and limited standout running back Isaiah Carlson to just 45 yards on 12 carries.
After what it’s done the past two weeks, Marysville Pilchuck is a heavy favorite to capture its second consecutive Wesco 3A title. And after that, the Tomahawks sure look like they have the pieces to make a deep state playoff run.
— Cameron Van Til
Stanwood proving itself as likely No. 4 seed in Wesco 3A North
There wasn’t much doubt coming into the season that the top three teams in Wesco 3A North would be Marysville Pilchuck, Ferndale and Arlington. The former two received all seven first-place votes in the preseason coaches’ poll and Arlington was the clear favorite to finish third. The real mystery: which teams would emerge from the four-team pack for Marysville Getchell, Mount Vernon, Oak Harbor and Stanwood to claim the league’s final two meaningful Week 9 crossover games? After five weeks, the Spartans have a firm grasp on at least one of those spots and likely the top one. Under first-year coach Jeff Scoma, Stanwood (2-3, 2-2 league) already has its most conference victories in a season since 2017.
Stanwood dismantled Marysville Getchell last Friday in a 49-0 rout. Add that win to a 34-14 Week 3 over Oak Harbor, and the Spartans, picked to finish last, are just one conference victory away guaranteeing themselves at least a fourth-place finish. The Spartans also hung tough with rival Arlington in the Stilly Cup game on Sept. 24. They trailed 7-6 early in the third quarter after keeping the Eagles’ high-powered passing attack mostly under wraps in the first half. Stanwood also had plenty of opportunities throughout the game to put up more points, but couldn’t score on two drives that started inside the Eagles’ 10-yard line before Arlington pulled away for a 27-6 win. “I think we can play with teams that are top 10 in the state,” Scoma said after the game. “We hung with (Marysville) Pilchuck in the first half and we hung with these guys in the first half. We got worn down a little bit. We’re still building our depth. … We can hang with really good teams. We’ve just gotta find a way to finish, and that’s on me.”
Stanwood is led on offensive by versatile running back Ryder Bumgarner. The 5-foot-9, 172-pound junior leads the team in in rushing yards (535) and rushing TDs (six). He also has two touchdown receptions.
Stanwood plays a non-league game with Cascade this Friday before returning to conference play with matchups against 3A No. 6 Ferndale on Oct. 15 and winless Mount Vernon on Oct. 22. Securing the league’s fourth seed in one of those games would help the Spartans receive a favorable Week 9 matchup and avoid a potential road game against Wesco 3A South contenders Snohomish, Edmonds-Woodway and Monroe. The Wesco 3A North No. 4 hosts the Wesco 3A South No. 4 in a win-or-go-home Week 9 crossover game. The North’s fifth seed travels to the South No. 3.
— Zac Hereth
Mountlake Terrace, Lynnwood notch surprising wins in Wesco 3A South
Snohomish, Edmonds-Woodway and Monroe have established themselves as the clear-cut top three teams in the Wesco 3A South. But the battle for the league’s final two postseason spots became awfully interesting after a pair of surprising results last Friday night.
The big shocker came from Mountlake Terrace, which earned its first win of the season by rolling to a 34-3 rout of Meadowdale. The Hawks, picked to finish last out of seven teams in the league’s preseason coaches poll, were outscored 118-22 in their first three games — including a 41-0 loss to Shorecrest. But Mountlake Terrace flipped the script Friday, cruising to a 34-0 lead over a Meadowdale team that had been sidelined the previous three weeks because of COVID-related issues.
The other surprising result was Lynnwood’s 20-18 win over Shorecrest. The Royals, picked to finish sixth in the league’s coaches poll, were outscored 135-21 in their first three games. And they’d lost each of their past four matchups to Shorecrest by a combined 152-29 margin. But after falling behind 18-7 on Friday, Lynnwood rallied to beat the Scots for its first win of the season.
Under Wesco 3A’s new crossover format, the No. 3, No. 4 and No. 5 teams from the North and the South square off in win-or-go-home Week 9 playoff games. And after Friday, the race for those final two Week 9 playoff spots in the Wesco 3A South just got more interesting.
— Cameron Van Til
The Seagulls are soaring while playing independent schedule
From 2018 through the abbreviated season this spring, Everett went a combined up 2-22 in a brutal three-season stretch that saw the Seagulls lose 15 games by at least 20 points. It was a steep dropoff for a team that went 7-3 and made the Week 10 playoffs in 2017. But Everett has put those struggles to rest this fall while playing an independent schedule focused on competitively balanced matchups. The Seagulls have already doubled their win total from the past three seasons with their 4-1 start, which includes three victories by 23 points or more.
Everett has received contributions from a number of players en route to its success. Senior running back JuJu Williams has amassed 979 yards from scrimmage, including a team-best 758 rushing yards and nine touchdowns. Sophomore Mike Nolad has added 438 yards and six touchdowns on the ground as a solid second option out of the back field. And senior Jemyre Reed is averaging 30.7 yards per catch with a team-high 276 yards and three TDs receiving. The Seagulls have also been opportunistic on defense while forcing 12 turnovers, led by three fumble recoveries and an interception by senior Brandon Diaz.
Everett’s breakthrough season comes with a caveat. The team’s four wins have come over squads with a combined 3-17 record, including three over teams that are also playing independently. But that shouldn’t take much away from what the Seagulls have done so far under third-year coach Brien Elliot. When this season is over, Everett’s seniors will certainly be able to say they left the program better than how they found it. And although the Seagulls won’t be competing for a postseason berth this fall due to needing to go unbeaten to qualify for a Week 9 play-in game, their annual Battle of Broadway rivalry matchup with Cascade — which is also playing independently — on Oct. 22 is shaping up to be one of the more meaningful clashes between the squads in recent years. Everett is guaranteed to enter that game with a winning record, and the Bruins need just one win over the next two weeks to do the same.
— Zac Hereth