Victor Gabalis (right), Mason Mathis and No. 2-ranked Archbishop Murphy host No. 4-ranked Lynden in a key Northwest 2A Sky Division showdown Friday night. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Victor Gabalis (right), Mason Mathis and No. 2-ranked Archbishop Murphy host No. 4-ranked Lynden in a key Northwest 2A Sky Division showdown Friday night. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Key Week 4 games: Murphy, Lynden set for top-5 clash

The No. 2 Wildcats host No. 4 Lynden in a pivotal Sky Division opener between perennial powers.

Over the past decade-plus, Archbishop Murphy and Lynden have been two of the state’s premier Class 2A high school football programs. 

The perennial powers have accounted for seven of the past 13 state titles in the 2A classification, with the Lions claiming six state championships during that span and the Wildcats winning the crown in 2016. Over the past 13 years, the teams have combined for a whopping 17 state semifinal appearances.

All their successes have resulted in several high-stakes clashes between these seemingly yearly title contenders.

Since 2008, Archbishop Murphy and Lynden have squared off in three state semifinals and a state championship game. And they met for the first time as league rivals last year, with the Lions winning a down-to-the-wire contest that ultimately determined the Northwest 2A Sky Division title.

The powerhouse programs are set for another massive showdown in Friday night’s league opener, with the No. 2-ranked Wildcats hosting No. 4-ranked Lynden in a matchup that should figure prominently into the Sky Division title race.

“Any time you have the opportunity to play a program that’s as storied as Lynden, it’s a big opportunity for us,” Archbishop Murphy coach Mark Leone said. “It’s an opportunity to measure ourselves and it’s the league opener for us, so you kind of get that chance to set the pace.”

The Wildcats (3-0) have already beaten one of the state’s top 2A teams this season. Two weeks ago, Archbishop Murphy traveled south and defeated two-time defending state champion Hockinson 27-21, snapping the Hawks’ 28-game win streak.

“It gives the kids the confidence that they can play with 2A teams across the state — with the powerhouses,” Leone said of the non-league victory. “… It shows them that if you play for four quarters (and) you don’t take plays off, you’re going to give yourself an opportunity at the end of games.”

In last year’s league opener, Lynden overcame an 11-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat visiting Archbishop Murphy 24-21. The Lions went on to claim the Sky Division title and advanced to the state championship game, where they fell 42-37 to Hockinson.

“Any time that you’re playing somebody that (you lost to) the last time you played them, I think you have a little bit of a chip on your shoulder, for sure,” Leone said. “But we also recognize that it’s a new Lynden team and we’re a new Archbishop Murphy team.”

One of the game’s key matchups figures to be Archbishop Murphy’s defense against Lynden’s rushing attack. The Wildcats have allowed just 11.3 points per game, whereas the Lions (2-1) are coming off a 455-yard rushing performance in last week’s shootout win over No. 7-ranked Steilacoom.

“We have to rally to the football,” Leone said. “We don’t want to make one-on-one tackles in space. We want to get all 11 of our guys on defense rallying to their playmakers — they have a bunch of them.”

No. 4 LYNDEN at No. 2 ARCHBISHOP MURPHY

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Where: Archbishop Murphy H.S.

The skinny: This league opener and top-five showdown between perennial state powerhouses carries major Northwest 2A Sky Division title implications. Lynden rallied with two fourth-quarter touchdowns for a 24-21 win in last year’s matchup, which ultimately determined the division title.

Lynden: 2-1; beat Steilacoom 56-47 last week

About the Lions: After a season-opening loss to 1A second-ranked Mount Baker, Lynden rebounded to beat rival Ferndale and 2A seventh-ranked Steilacoom the past two weeks. Running back Steven DiLorenzo rushed for a school-record 320 yards and three TDs in last week’s non-league shootout win over Steilacoom, averaging 12.8 yards per carry for a ground attack that piled up 455 yards. Steilacoom cut the Lions’ 21-point fourth-quarter lead to two points, but Lynden sealed the victory in the final minute with a 42-yard TD pass on 4th-and-15.

Archbishop Murphy: 3-0; beat Cleveland 73-0 last week

About the Wildcats: After beating Hockinson in Week 2 to snap the two-time defending 2A state champions’ 28-game win streak, there certainly was no letdown from Archbishop Murphy last week. The Wildcats allowed minus-66 yards of total offense and dominated in all phases of the game during a non-league dismantling of Cleveland. In the second quarter alone, Archbishop Murphy rushed for two TDs, threw for a TD, returned a punt for a score and recorded two safeties. The Wildcats have yielded just 11.3 points per contest.

Herald pick: Archbishop Murphy

EDMONDS-WOODWAY vs. MEADOWDALE

Hunter Moen and Meadowdale square off against rival Edmonds-Woodway in a Wesco 3A South clash. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Hunter Moen and Meadowdale square off against rival Edmonds-Woodway in a Wesco 3A South clash. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

When: 8 p.m. Friday

Where: Edmonds Stadium

The skinny: This annual rivalry game could be pivotal in the wide-open Wesco 3A South race. Meadowdale has won four of the teams’ past five meetings and six of the past eight, including a 41-20 victory last season.

Edmonds-Woodway: 1-2 overall, 1-0 Wesco 3A South; lost to Woodinville 35-7 last week

About the Warriors: Edmonds-Woodway’s two losses came in a pair of non-league defeats to 4A programs. The Warriors fell to Glacier Peak in their season opener and to No. 2-ranked Woodinville last week. In its Wesco 3A South opener two weeks ago, Edmonds-Woodway scored 38 unanswered second-half points to rally for a 38-14 win over Shorecrest. Defense and special teams led the way for the Warriors, who scored on an interception return, a punt return and a fumble recovery in the comeback victory.

Meadowdale: 3-0 overall, 2-0 Wesco 3A South; beat Lynnwood 17-14 last week

About the Mavericks: Cole Sargent kicked a game-winning field goal in the final minute to lift Meadowdale past upstart Lynnwood in a surprisingly close contest last week. Quarterback Hunter Moen has completed 69.4 percent of his passes for 603 yards, six TDs and no interceptions. His favorite targets are Colton Walsh and Mason Vaughn, who have combined for five TD catches and both are averaging at least 30 yards per reception. The Mavericks have allowed just 11.7 points per game.

Herald pick: Meadowdale

No. 9 ARLINGTON at FERNDALE

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Where: Ferndale H.S.

The skinny: This Wesco 3A North clash is a rematch of Arlington’s dramatic comeback win last year, when the Eagles rallied from a 12-point deficit in the final six minutes to claim a 37-34 victory.

Arlington: 3-0 overall, 2-0 Wesco 3A North; beat Stanwood 44-10 last week

About the Eagles: Arlington’s defense and special teams have combined for four TDs over the past two weeks. The Eagles returned two interceptions for TDs in a league-opening rout of Squalicum, then scored on a punt return and fumble recovery in last week’s Stilly Cup win over archrival Stanwood. Through three games, Arlington has allowed just 24 points combined. Running back Jacob Kramer leads the Eagles’ offense with 379 yards rushing and five TDs, averaging 8.1 yards per carry.

Ferndale: 1-2 overall, 1-0 Wesco 3A North; beat Marysville Getchell 41-14 last week

About the Golden Eagles: Ferndale started 0-2 with non-league losses to 4A top-ranked Lake Stevens and 2A fourth-ranked Lynden. The Golden Eagles got back on track in last week’s league opener, rolling to a 27-0 halftime lead in a rout of Marysville Getchell. Ferndale is headlined by two-way standout lineman and University of Washington commit Geirean Hatchett, the 30th-ranked senior offensive lineman in the nation according to 247Sports.

Herald pick: Arlington

SHOREWOOD vs. SHORECREST

Eladio Fountain and Shorecrest look to avenge last year’s Rotary Cup loss to rival Shorewood. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Eladio Fountain and Shorecrest look to avenge last year’s Rotary Cup loss to rival Shorewood. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Where: Shoreline Stadium

The skinny: The Shoreline rivals square off in the annual Rotary Cup. Shorewood blanked Shorecrest 24-0 in last year’s rivalry contest, ending a three-game losing streak to the Scots.

Shorewood: 1-2 overall, 0-2 Wesco 3A South; lost to Snohomish 56-10 last week

About the Thunderbirds: After graduating a slew of talent from last year’s breakthrough Week 10 playoff team, Shorewood has struggled in its first two Wesco 3A South contests. The Thunderbirds have been outscored 96-18 in league losses to Meadowdale and Snohomish.

Shorecrest: 2-1 overall, 1-1 Wesco 3A South; beat Everett 35-7 last week

About the Scots: After squeaking by Marysville Getchell for a season-opening non-league win, Shorecrest began Wesco 3A South play two weeks ago by surrendering 38 unanswered second-half points in a 38-14 loss to Edmonds-Woodway. The Scots bounced back with last week’s rout of Everett, holding the Seagulls scoreless until the game’s final minutes.

Herald pick: Shorecrest

No. 9 SEDRO-WOOLLEY at LAKEWOOD

Jared Taylor leads Lakewood against Sedro-Woolley in a matchup of unbeatens. (Katie Webber / The Herald)

Jared Taylor leads Lakewood against Sedro-Woolley in a matchup of unbeatens. (Katie Webber / The Herald)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Where: Lakewood H.S.

The skinny: Both teams take 3-0 records into this Northwest 2A Sky Division opener. Sedro-Woolley beat Lakewood 36-14 in last year’s matchup.

Sedro-Woolley: 3-0; beat Oak Harbor 47-13 last week

About the Cubs: Sedro-Woolley owns two non-league wins over teams from higher classifications, having beat Mount Vernon and routed Oak Harbor. The Cubs are headlined by cornerback/receiver Brent VanderVeen, a two-star recruit who is committed to Eastern Washington University.

Lakewood: 3-0; beat Evergreen 41-17 last week

About the Cougars: Lakewood topped 40 points in each of its three non-league victories. The Cougars trailed 17-0 at halftime last week, but rattled off 41 unanswered second-half points to roll past Evergreen. Dual-threat quarterback Jared Taylor led the comeback, rushing for 204 yards and three TDs. Taylor has accounted for 951 total yards and 13 TDs, including 481 yards and eight scores on the ground. Carson Chrisman leads Lakewood’s receiving corps with 235 yards and two TDs.

Herald pick: Sedro-Woolley

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