The Monroe football team’s season was dangling by a thread last week.
Then came a dramatic comeback in the final two minutes that lifted the Bearcats to a wild 44-40 win over Mount Si and a second consecutive state-playoff berth.
Nursing a three-point lead with about two minutes left to play, Mount Si was on the verge of being able to run out the clock. But as the Wildcats ran for a potential game-clinching first down, Monroe senior Lucas Rhodes stripped the ball carrier and junior Austin Moyes recovered the fumble to give the Bearcats life.
Senior quarterback Jaedyn Prewitt then led Monroe on a 77-yard scoring drive, capped by senior Isaiah Lewis’ game-winning touchdown run with 17 seconds left.
“That’s just the character of this team,” Bearcats coach Michael Bumpus said. “They’ve been up (and) they’ve been down, but they always find a way to keep fighting and keep themselves in the game.”
Monroe (9-1) now has an opportunity to make history by earning the program’s first-ever state-playoff win. The Bearcats travel to face Puyallup in a first-round matchup Friday night.
Monroe made five state appearances from 1986 to 1991, but exited in the first round each time. The Bearcats then reached state last season after a 25-year absence, but fell to Sumner in a back-and-forth opening-round loss.
“For (the players) to get a win on Friday would just mean a lot to them, because they know the history of Monroe,” Bumpus said. “These kids would become immortal and they would always talk about this 2017 team.
“And we just want to keep playing, man. We’re not done playing football. We just want to play as much football as we can, especially for the seniors.”
Here’s a look at Friday’s first-round state-playoff games involving local teams:
MONROE (9-1) vs. PUYALLUP (9-1)
When: 7 p.m., Friday
Where: Sparks Stadium (Puyallup)
Monroe: 2nd in Wesco 4A; beat Mount Si 44-40 in Week 10 playoffs
About the Bearcats: Monroe has topped 50 points six times this season, outscoring opponents by 29.9 points per game. The Bearcats’ high-powered offense is led by senior running back Isaiah Lewis, who has rushed for 1,704 yards and 23 touchdowns and averages 9.2 yards per carry. Senior quarterback Jaedyn Prewitt has completed 64.6 percent of his passes for 2,305 yards, 26 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Efton Chism III, a sophomore, leads Monroe with 832 yards receiving and 12 touchdown catches. Making their second consecutive state appearance after a 25-year drought, the Bearcats are seeking their first-ever state-playoff win.
Puyallup: 1st in South Puget Sound League 4A; beat Auburn Mountainview 42-13 in Week 10 playoffs
About the Vikings: After a 4-6 campaign last year, Puyallup went unbeaten in South Puget Sound League 4A play this season and earned the program’s first state berth since 2006. The biggest difference has been on defense, as the Vikings are allowing 18 points per game this season after yielding 41.7 last year. Junior quarterback Jacob Holcomb has thrown for 2,034 yards, 26 touchdowns and seven interceptions, and junior Darius Morrison has a team-high 859 yards receiving and 15 touchdown catches. Junior running back Kyle Cramer leads the rushing attack with 986 yards and 14 scores. Puyallup’s lone loss was a non-league defeat to Skyline.
Herald pick: Puyallup
EDMONDS-WOODWAY (9-1) vs. EASTSIDE CATHOLIC (9-0)
When: 7:45 p.m., Friday
Where: Memorial Stadium (Seattle)
Edmonds-Woodway: 1st in Wesco 3A South; beat Gig Harbor 24-6 in Week 10 playoffs
About the Warriors: Edmonds-Woodway allows just 10.9 points per game and has held six opponents to single digits this season. The Warriors’ stifling defense limited Gig Harbor to just 142 total yards and an average of 3.0 yards per play in last week’s Week 10 playoff win. Junior receiver Jaro Rouse led the Edmonds-Woodway offense with six catches for 95 yards and a touchdown. The Warriors’ lone loss this season was a non-league defeat to unbeaten Woodinville. Edmonds-Woodway is making its first state appearance since 2011 and is seeking its first trip to the state quarterfinals since 2007.
Eastside Catholic: 1st in Metro League’s Mountain division; beat Stanwood 42-7 in Week 10 playoffs
About the Crusaders: Eastside Catholic has beaten five state-playoff teams this season, including perennial power O’Dea and 4A schools Gonzaga Prep and Union. Despite facing a tough schedule, the Crusaders are averaging 40.4 points per game and allowing just 14. Eastside Catholic features three of the top 25 senior recruits in the state, according to 247Sports. The Crusaders have reached the state semifinals each of the past five seasons, making four consecutive title-game appearances from 2012 to 2015 and winning back-to-back championships in 2014 and 2015.
Herald pick: Eastside Catholic
RIVER RIDGE (6-3) vs. ARCHBISHOP MURPHY (9-1)
When: 7 p.m., Friday
Where: Mariner H.S.
River Ridge: T-2nd in South Puget Sound League 2A’s Sound division; beat White River 35-27 in Week 10 playoffs
About the Hawks: River Ridge has won six of its past seven games after an 0-2 start. The Hawks allow 15.6 points per game and have held six of their nine opponents to 14 points or less. River Ridge is led by do-everything junior quarterback Tomasi Manu, who has totaled 1,026 yards and 14 touchdowns on offense this season. Manu also has two special-teams returns for scores and an interception return for a touchdown. The Hawks are making their fourth consecutive state-playoff appearance and their fifth in program history.
Archbishop Murphy: 1st in Cascade Conference; beat Lakewood 43-7 in Week 10 playoffs
About the Wildcats: Defending state champion Archbishop Murphy has outscored opponents by 32.3 points per game this season. The Wildcats allow just 11.6 points per game and have limited six opponents to seven points or less. Senior running back Ray Pimentel has rushed for 1,695 yards and 23 touchdowns this season, averaging 170 yards per game and 9.9 yards per carry. Two-way standout Kyler Gordon, ranked by 247Sports as the third-overall senior recruit in the state, has intercepted four passes on defense and totaled 1,068 yards and 15 touchdowns on offense. Gordon scored touchdowns on four of his five offensive touches last week, totaling 196 yards in a Week 10 playoff rout of Lakewood. Murphy’s lone loss this season was a non-league defeat to perennial 3A power Bellevue. The Wildcats are seeking their third consecutive trip to the state quarterfinals and their eighth in the past decade.
Herald pick: Archbishop Murphy