Déjà vu for Archbishop Murphy, Cascade Christian

Again?

The Archbishop Murphy football team faces a familiar opponent today in a Class A state playoff semifinal.

The Wildcats, who take a 24-game winning streak into their 4 p.m. game at the Tacoma Dome, plays Cascade Christian for the fourth time in 14 months. Archbishop Murphy, the defending state champion, reached the title game last season by beating the Cougars.

History is not guaranteed to repeat itself, according to Wildcats coach Terry Ennis, whose team lost to Cascade Christian in 2001 during Archbishop Murphy’s inaugural season of varsity football.

“It’s been a long time since we played them, so it’s certainly two different teams now,” said Ennis, whose team beat the Cougars 41-22 on Sept. 27. ” (Playing them again) is not ideal, but that’s how it is.”

If reaching next Saturday’s state championship game isn’t incentive enough, Cascade Christian will have three doses of vengeance to throw at the Wildcats. The Cougars have lost only three games in the last two seasons – all to Archbishop Murphy.

“We’re going to have to come out with it in our minds that they are trying to kill us,” said Wildcats fullback Jevon Butler, who has rushed for 1,582 yards and 22 touchdowns this season. ” … They’re going to be ready to come out and get us.”

To get to the state title game for the second year in a row, the Wildcats must continue to contain quarterback Evan Bratz (28 total TDs) and 6-foot-2, 210-pound fullback Brian Dahl, who has scored 38 times this season.

The Cougars (11-1) have scored 50 or more points five times this season, winning by an average score of 48-9. Archbishop Murphy’s average score this season has been 46-12. Archbishop Murphy (12-0) has played nine opponents that have qualified for the state playoffs at least once in the last three seasons.

“They’re really pretty explosive,” Ennis said. “They’ll throw the ball, run the option and spread the field. They make it very difficult to defend them. They have a lot of weapons and a lot of team quickness.”

While trying to slow Cascade Christian’s potent offense, Ennis also believes the Wildcats must contend with the Cougars’ extra motivation. Cascade Christian could accomplish the double-whammy of knocking off the defending champion and its nemesis at the same time.

“Football is a very emotional game,” said Ennis, who coached Cascade High School to a state title in 1991. “If you’re going to play in the semifinals, you need to play at your highest level of emotion. Is it easier to get up for someone you’ve beaten or someone who’s beaten you? I don’t know.”

“I really don’t think it’s going to be a factor in the game. It’s going to be how well we block and tackle. If our kids are not going out there to play their best, then we don’t deserve to win if we’re playing someone we’ve beaten 10 times.”

For today, Ennis will settle for four.

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