SHORELINE — The King’s High School football team has excellent credentials. The Knights were Class 1A state runners-up last season. They’ve been to the state quarterfinals every season since 2009. They even beat Archbishop Murphy in three of the teams’ previous four meetings.
So that provides some perspective on just how good the Wildcats are this season.
Archbishop Murphy continued its rampage through the early part of the season, dominating King’s 38-0 Friday night in a Cascade Conference contest at King’s High School.
“I’ve coached against them since the Terry Ennis days, and that’s the best Arch team they’ve had,” King’s coach Jim Shapiro said. “Nothing against the Shiloh Keos and Tani Tupous and those groups, because those were amazing football teams. But athletically, that team can match up against anything in the state.”
And what makes things even more frightening for the rest of the competition is that the Wildcats weren’t at their best Friday. King’s stayed with Archbishop Murphy through the first half, trailing just 3-0 until late in the second quarter. But the Wildcats busted out in the second half to make Friday’s final score reminiscent of the 73-0 and 59-0 scores Archbishop Murphy put together in the first two weeks of the season.
“I think our kids came out a little bit flat,” Archbishop Murphy coach Jerry Jensen said. “After the first two games they had I don’t think they took King’s for real. It was great to be able to have them play a full four quarters and battle back in that second half and play a little bit better.
“I think we can be really good, but there’s some darn good football in the 2A with all the teams up north, and you throw Tumwater and Prosser in there on the other side,” Jensen added. “We need to clean our house if we think we’re going to be competing in the Tacoma Dome later this year.”
Anfernee Gurley and Kyler Gordon led the way on offense for the Wildcats (1-0 league, 3-0 overall). Gurley had 185 all-purpose yards from scrimmage (103 receiving, 82 rushing), while Gordon added 135 yards of total offense (111 receiving, 25 rushing). Both scored two touchdowns, one on the ground and one through the air. Osuoha Emmanuel added 117 yards rushing, while quarterback Connor Johnson was 5-for-12 for 214 yards and two TDs.
But it was the defense that was most impressive for the Wildcats. Archbishop Murphy held King’s (0-1, 1-2) to 97 yards total offense, including a mere nine on the ground. The Wildcats also recorded an interception and four sacks as they pitched their third consecutive shutout. When Archbishop Murphy’s offense was stuck in neutral early in the game, it was the defense that made sure the Wildcats stayed out front.
“Our team feeds on our defense,” Jensen said. “They did play well, but there’s plenty to fix on that side of the ball, too.”
For nearly two full quarters all the Wildcats had to show for their efforts was Ryan Murphy’s 35-yard field goal. But Archbishop Murphy was able to put a drive together late in the first half, culminating in Gordon’s 3-yard touchdown run that gave the Wildcats a 10-0 lead heading into halftime.
Then in the second half the Wildcats found another gear. On the first drive of the second half Archbishop Murphy methodically made its way down the field with a 13-play, 76-yard drive that was finished off by Gurley’s 4-yard touchdown run to make it 17-0. The drive ate 6 minutes, 25 seconds off the clock.
Then the Wildcats used the quick strike on their ensuing drive. Backed up to their own 1-yard line, the Wildcats needed just three plays to reach the opposite end zone. Johnson’s play-action pass allowed Gordon to get behind the defense, and Johnson delivered a strike that resulted in a 95-yard touchdown. It was all Archbishop Murphy from there.