SNOHOMISH — Lake Stevens is still the king of Snohomish County high school football.
Even in this abbreviated season, the Vikings weren’t about to surrender their spot atop the throne.
Jayden Limar scored five total touchdowns and Lake Stevens rattled off 28 straight fourth-quarter points to pull away for a 63-35 win over Glacier Peak in a season-finale showdown of unbeatens Thursday night at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
With the victory, the Vikings extended their win streak over Wesco 4A opponents to 46 games. Lake Stevens improved to 40-1 against Snohomish County teams over the last six seasons.
“We knew (Glacier Peak was) going to come with everything they had,” Limar said. “… I was very happy we could respond and show everybody that we’re the true kings of the north.”
There were no league championships in Wesco football this spring, due to teams playing a wide variety of competitively balanced schedules over the course of an abbreviated five-week season. But for all intents and purposes, Thursday night’s clash of unbeatens was an unofficial Wesco 4A title game.
Both teams had established themselves as the cream of the crop in the five-team Wesco 4A — and arguably as the top two teams in all of Snohomish County — while going 4-0 against some of the area’s other top programs.
Glacier Peak beat Marysville Pilchuck, Snohomish, Archbishop Murphy and Monroe by a combined 129 points in its first four games. Lake Stevens beat those same four teams by a combined 83 points.
“This was the Wesco championship,” Vikings coach Tom Tri said. “In my mind, we are the two best. And I’m not trying to knock anybody else. But this was for a Wesco championship, and that’s how we treated it. This was a playoff game for us. This was what the seniors have been waiting for all year.”
The action-packed contest was highlighted by a big-play duel between two of the area’s most dynamic playmakers.
Limar, a sophomore who already has Pac-12 offers from Utah and Oregon State, returned the game’s opening kickoff for a touchdown and added scoring runs of 21, 21, 58 and 18 yards for Lake Stevens (5-0). He finished with 164 yards from scrimmage, including 141 yards rushing on 16 carries.
On the other side was Glacier Peak running back Ryan Black, who rushed for 348 yards and three touchdowns on 32 carries. The standout senior broke long touchdown runs of 87, 67 and 49 yards.
“He’s one of the best running backs we’ve seen in a long time,” Tri said. “He’s special. So is (Limar), though. … It was kind of a punch-counterpunch going back and forth there.”
The game got off to an electric start, with Limar returning the opening kickoff for a 98-yard touchdown. Glacier Peak (4-1) quickly answered, evening the score on a 24-yard touchdown pass from senior Tyson Lang to sophomore Cooper Jensen.
Later in the opening quarter, the Grizzlies faced a fourth-and-2 from their own 13-yard line. They elected to go for it and the gamble paid off in a big way, as Black took a handoff around the right end and sprinted down the sideline for an 87-yard score.
Limar responded on the ensuing possession, bouncing off a tackler on his way to a 21-yard touchdown on a third-and-8 run.
The offensive fireworks continued just a few plays after that, when Black burst through a hole on the opening snap of the second quarter and sprinted for a 67-yard touchdown to give Glacier Peak a 21-14 lead.
“I think he’s the most under-recruited player in the state of Washington,” Grizzlies coach Shane Keck said. “At times, he’s the best player in the state, period. I mean, he’s unbelievable. (Lake Stevens has) a bunch of Division I guys over there. I think Ryan was the best player out here today.”
The stadium lights went out early in the second quarter, causing about a 15-minute delay. After the lights came back on, Glacier Peak blocked a punt and had a chance to take a two-possession lead.
But moments later, the tide swung back to the Vikings. On back-to-back plays, Lake Stevens two-way junior standout Drew Carter intercepted a pass and hauled in a 44-yard reception down the right sideline. A few plays after that, Limar took a fourth-and-1 pitch around the left side for a game-tying 21-yard touchdown.
Carter came through again in the closing moments of the half, catching a 4-yard touchdown pass from Jellison with 16 seconds remaining to give the Vikings a 28-21 lead heading into the break.
“I think he’s the best receiver in Wesco, and I think he’s the best safety in Wesco,” Tri said. “… He’s the real package.”
Glacier Peak opened the second half with a nearly eight-minute drive, but had nothing to show for it after a turnover on downs. Two plays later, Limar slipped out of multiple tackles while racing down the sideline for a 58-yard touchdown run.
Black answered right back, eluding several defenders on his way to a 49-yard touchdown and his third score of the night, which cut the deficit to 35-28 late in the third quarter.
But that was as close as the Grizzlies would get.
Lake Stevens began its fourth-quarter barrage with a 14-yard touchdown pass from Jellison to senior receiver Gabe Ramsey. Limar added his fifth touchdown of the night, scoring on an 18-yard run. Ramsey spun out of a tackle in the backfield and escaped for an incredible 85-yard scamper to the 1-yard line, which set up a short touchdown run from Jellison.
And senior Ryan Sauter put the finishing touches on the rout by snatching an interception and returning it for a 37-yard pick-six, which capped a string of 28 straight points from the Vikings in a span of less than eight minutes.
“I didn’t know it was going to be 63-35,” Tri said. “But we felt pretty good going into halftime (that) if we could just play our game, eliminate the mental mistakes and play fast and physical, we could have a really successful second half.”
Carter finished with two interceptions on defense and had six catches for 86 yards and a touchdown. Ramsey added 147 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown reception for Lake Stevens, which scored 63 points on a Glacier Peak team that had allowed just 44 points combined in its previous four games.
“We just didn’t tackle very well on defense today,” Keck said. “Obviously, they’ve got a couple special players that can make guys miss and break tackles, but we didn’t tackle very well.
“And unfortunately when the margin is so close and you give good teams like that (an) opportunity and a window, they obviously have been in those situations and found a way to take advantage of us when we didn’t convert.”
The original schedule for Wesco’s abbreviated season had Lake Stevens facing Arlington on Thursday and Glacier Peak facing Mariner. But Tri said the injury to Arlington starting quarterback Trent Nobach in the Eagles’ season opener set things in motion for those four teams to shuffle their opponents for their season finales, given that finding competitively balanced matchups was a priority among Wesco teams this spring.
As a result, it gave Lake Stevens an opportunity to add another quality win to its resume and further solidify its status as the premier prep football program in Snohomish County.
The Vikings opened the season with a win over perennial Class 2A state power Archbishop Murphy. They shut out Monroe, last season’s Wesco 4A runner-up. They rolled past two-time defending Wesco 3A South champion Snohomish. They beat defending Wesco 3A champion Marysville Pilchuck. And they capped the shortened spring campaign with an impressive runaway victory over Glacier Peak.
“Our seniors can say forever now, ‘Hey, we were kings of Snohomish County in 2021,’” Tri said. “We played all playoff teams from Snohomish County the year before. Everyone was in the playoffs, and we beat them all. So what a nice little run for our guys and a good way to finish the season.”