Ennis’ challenge begins

By Aaron Coe

Herald Writer

When Terry Ennis launched the football program at Archbishop Thomas Murphy High School a little more than a year ago, he had a bit of work to do.

His players knew what a football looked like and that was about it.

After a year of teaching them the game, he’s finally going to coach the Wildcats this year in games that count.

“I don’t feel any different getting this team ready for its first game than any other team I’ve coached,” said Ennis, whose Cascade teams won every Western Conference title in the 1990s until he left after the 1998 season. “Last year was the transition year. We’re ready to accept the challenge.”

And even though his team is full of mostly sophomores who had never played the game before, Ennis is glad to be back to the place he loves: the sideline.

“I’m just as tired and worn out – my feet hurt, you lose your voice, you’re always short of time, you never have any depth, etc., etc.,” said Ennis, who coached Cascade to a state title in 1991.

“It feels great.”

Archbishop Murphy will compete in the Northwest A League against Concrete, Coupeville, Friday Harbor, La Conner and Orcas Island, which most say is the favorite to win what has historically been a very tough league.

Ennis says he is uncertain how his team will fare in its first season of games that count. Other coaches around the league figure it’s just a matter of time before Ennis starts winning.

“You’ve still got to have good players,” Coupeville coach Ron Bagby said. “I’m not sure what they have there, but I’ll put it this way: If there are good players there, Terry will have a good football team.”

Coupeville lost a strong senior class, but figures to be in the mix along with Orcas, La Conner and Concrete.

Darrington played in the league last season, but has moved down to the Class B level. The Loggers will be an Independent this year. They will still play several games against the Northwest A, but there are only two games on the schedule that truly matter. Darrington will play Neah Bay Oct. 27 away and Nov. 3 at home. Should they split, either a third game will have to be played, or a Kansas City tiebreaker could be played after the second game. The team that emerges will earn a state playoff berth.

Darrington coach Rob Wales, who believes he has a team that could go deep into the playoffs, hopes it doesn’t come to that.

“We hope we can settle it by winning both games,” Wales said.

Snohomish County teams that play in the North Cascades 2A League finally began to put up a fight against the teams up north last year. Several new coaches will attempt to continue the transition this year.

Sultan, under new coach Jim MacDicken, went to the state playoffs last year for the first time since 1986. The Turks return a big line and just might make it back again.

Lakewood just missed the playoffs last season. New coach Don Gibbons, a former Arlington assistant and head coach who originally retired from coaching in 1993, hopes to continue the improvement.

Former King’s and Pacific Lutheran University player Mark Hodson will try to turn around a struggling South Whidbey program with his passing attack. He’s only the third football coach at the school in more than 50 years.

King’s, a state playoff team from last year, is expected to again challenge for the Chinook League title and could be a factor in the Class A playoffs.

Bothell, which went to state for the first time since 1984 last season in Tom Bainter’s first year there, hopes to take advantage of a Kingco 4A conference that may not be as strong as it has been in recent years.

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