STANWOOD — The Arlington High School football team extended its Stilly Cup win streak to double digits.
And this time, there was no late drama.
The Eagles scored on offense, defense and special teams and beat archrival Stanwood for the 10th straight time with a 44-10 rout Friday night at the recently renovated Bob Larson Stadium.
“It’s always fun to beat Stanwood,” Arlington coach Greg Dailer said. “We may have won it 10 in a row, but there’s been a lot of close ones. Everybody gets ready for the Stilly Cup and it’s one that we circle on our calendar every year, so it just means so much. There’s so much history behind it. … We’ve just happened to be on the right side the last few years.”
The previous three Stilly Cups were decided by just 11 points combined and featured some tense finishes, but the Eagles were able to breathe easy in this one. Arlington raced to a 16-0 first-half lead and extended the margin to 34 points on the opening play of the fourth quarter.
With the Eagles (3-0 overall, 2-0 Wesco 3A North) still breaking in some youth on offense, they received a major boost from their talented defense and special teams.
Cade Younger scored on a punt return and Michael Tsoukalas returned a fumble for a touchdown, giving Arlington three defensive scores in its last two games. The Eagles also scored on a pair of interception returns in last week’s win over Squalicum.
“We still struggle a little bit offensively sometimes, but our special teams and our defense have done such a great job of putting the ball in the end zone,” Dailer said. “So it’s really a full team win. … Our defense is playing phenomenal.”
EAGLES RACE IN FRONT
Sophomore running back Jacob Kramer ran for a 7-yard TD on Arlington’s second drive, giving the Eagles an early 7-0 lead. Then after Arlington’s defense forced a three-and-out, Younger received a punt at midfield and sprinted around the right side for a 50-yard TD to make it 13-0.
“We knew if somebody would kick it to him, he would have a great chance to return it,” Dailer said. “He’s so talented. We work really hard on our different returns, and that one was the one that we set up for this week. We were pretty confident that if he could field the ball clean, he’d have a good chance.”
ARLINGTON’S SECOND-HALF ONSLAUGHT
Holding a 16-3 third-quarter lead, the Eagles put the game firmly out of reach with three TDs in a span of just over two minutes.
Arlington began the scoring blitz with a 27-yard TD pass from Trent Nobach to Joseph Schmidt on a slant route. On the ensuing play from scrimmage, the Eagles forced a fumble and Tsoukalas scooped it up and took it back for a 25-yard TD.
Then after Arlington recovered an onside kick, Jaden Roskelley added an 8-yard TD run to stretch the lead to 37-3 on the opening play of the fourth quarter.
The Eagles forced three turnovers, limited Stanwood’s offense to just 234 total yards and held the Spartans (1-2, 0-2) to just three points until midway through the fourth quarter. It was just the latest strong defensive showing for Arlington, which has allowed just 24 points combined through its first three games.
“We’re intercepting the ball like crazy,” Dailer said. “Our secondary is playing phenomenal. … We’ve got a lot of good athletes on defense and we knew that was going to be our strength coming in, and I’m just glad that they’re really carrying us along so far.”
“I think we have the best defenders in the league (and) the whole state,” Tsoukalas added. “I firmly believe that.”
STARS OF THE NIGHT
Michael Tsoukalas, jr., Arlington. The Oregon State University baseball commit highlighted the Eagles’ defensive performance, intercepting a pass and returning a fumble for a TD.
Jacob Kramer, soph., Arlington. Kramer showcased his speed and elusiveness throughout the night, rushing for 97 yards and a TD on 15 carries. The shifty ball-carrier ran for 72 yards in the first quarter, including a 40-yard gain that set up a field goal.
Arlington: The Eagles travel to face Ferndale in a Wesco 3A North clash next Friday night. It’s a rematch of Arlington’s dramatic comeback win last year, when the Eagles rallied from a 12-point deficit with two TDs in the final six minutes to claim a 37-34 victory. Ferndale (1-2, 1-0) rolled to a 41-14 league win over Marysville Getchell on Friday.
Stanwood: After back-to-back losses, the Spartans look to get back on track against Oak Harbor in a Wesco 3A North road tilt next Friday night. Stanwood has lost seven straight to the Wildcats by an average of 35.9 points per game, including a 35-7 defeat last season. Oak Harbor (1-2, 0-1) fell to Sedro-Woolley 47-13 in a non-league contest Friday.