EVERETT — This was a game that would have made the stadium’s namesake quite proud.
Facing a team purported to be their toughest opponent in the Cascade Conference, the Archbishop Murphy Wildcats thumped the Cedarcrest Red Wolves 28-0 at Terry Ennis Stadium Friday night.
“It’s been a very emotional and tough time for the kids,” Archbishop Murphy’s interim head coach Rick Stubrud said of his team’s first home game since legendary coach Terry Ennis passed away on Sept. 12. “The team wanted this for Coach Ennis and I couldn’t be prouder.”
Certainly, it was a game plan Terry Ennis, who founded the Wildcats’ program in 2000, might have drawn up with a twinkle in his eye.
Archbishop Murphy (2-0 in league, 4-0 overall and ranked No. 3 in the latest WashingtonPreps.com poll) won this game with a grind-it-out offense with the occasional big play thrown in for good measure, a smothering defensive effort and special teams executing to near perfection.
Running back Henry Woods ran for 142 of Murphy’s 364 yards of total offense, including a long touchdown romp on the opening series of the third quarter after the Wildcats had settled for a 6-0 halftime lead.
“(Woods) runs hard and he’s a warrior,” Stubrud said.
Stan Smith, a 2006 Archbishop Murphy graduate and one of the many former Wildcats’ players on hand to honor the late coach influenced Woods’
“(Smith) told me (at halftime) the cutback was there and he was right,” Woods said of the move he made that resulted in 28-yard scoring run and a 14-0 lead midway through the third quarter.
“This felt very special,” Woods said. “We wanted to win for coach Ennis and show Cedarcrest we were ready to play some football.”
Cedarcrest (1-1, 3-1 and ranked No. 7 by WashingtonPreps.com coming into the game) was held to 44 yards rushing. The Wildcats had five tackles for loss, including sacks by Kelso Wilkins, C.J. Milburn and JJ Quinlan.
Archbishop Murphy dominance included a 19-5 advantage in first downs.
Red Wolves’ running Brady Paxman entered the game leading the Cascade Conference with 548 yards, but was limited to 23.
Cedarcrest did have a couple of notable bright spots, including wide receiver Josh Stark who caught five passes for 79 yards. The Red Wolves had five tackles for loss and gutsy linebacker Jonathon Kriegbaum led his team with 10 tackles.
After settling for a perilous 6-0 lead through two quarters, Murphy scored touchdowns on its first two possessions of the second half. Following Woods’ TD run on the opening series of the third quarter, the Wildcats’ defense forced a turnover on downs near midfield. Three plays later quarterback Patrick Kelly threw a pass to J.D. Melton, who juked a defender and sprinted into the end zone with a 47-yard touchdown reception that made the score 21-0.
The Wildcats’ Russel Stiegler pounded into the end zone from a yard out in the fourth quarter to close out the scoring.
The Red Wolves managed but one first down on their first four possessions.
Only the steady punting of Cameron Oviatt, with kicks of 43, 43, 40 and 40 yards, and solid coverage served to mitigate Murphy’s decided field position advantage.
On their first possession of the game, the Wildcats marched 54 yards on a 12-play scoring drive. The touchdown was set-up when Kelly hooked up with Jake Bos on a 26-yard pass play and three plays later Stiegler burrowed in from a yard out.
With time running down in the second quarter the Wildcats came up empty on three pass plays. They tried to build on their 6-0 lead, but Ian Houts’ 37-yard field goal attempt struck the left upright and bounced awry in the waning seconds of the half.
At Terry Ennis Stadium
Archbishop Murphy—Stiegler 1 run (kick failed)
Archbishop Murphy—Woods 28 run (Martinez run)
Archbishop Murphy—Melton 47 pass from Kelly (Houts kick)
Archbishop Murphy—Stiegler 1 run (Houts kick)
Records—Cedarcrest 1-1 in league, 3-1 overall. Archbishop Murphy 2-0, 4-0