Beginning Thursday the American sports world’s focus zeroes in on Las Vegas. For three days Sin City serves as the perfect backdrop for the glitz, glamour and dream of hitting it big that surrounds the NFL draft.
But in Snohomish County, all eyes will be on the small private high school with an enrollment of 450 located in unincorporated territory wedged between Everett, Mill Creek and Snohomish.
Never before have two players from one Snohomish County High School been selected in the same NFL draft. That changes now.
Archbishop Murphy High School is set to achieve a milestone this weekend when alums and former football teammates Kyler Gordon and Abraham Lucas are picked in the 2022 NFL draft.
Gordon, a cornerback from the University of Washington, could be picked as high as Thursday’s first round. Lucas, a tackle out of Washington State University, may go as early as Friday’s second and third rounds.
And Archbishop Murphy is abuzz about what the duo is about to accomplish.
“The whole community is incredibly proud of them,” said Archbishop Murphy football coach Josh Jansen, who was the team’s defensive coordinator when Gordon and Lucas played for the Wildcats. “There’s a lot of talk on campus about them. It’s a unique experience to have two alums reach the league at the same time. We’re just enjoying the ride and cheering them on.”
Both Gordon and Lucas are coming off stellar collegiate careers. Gordon, a member of the Archbishop Murphy class of 2018, was a three-time All-Pac-12 selection, including being a first-teamer in 2021 as a redshirt junior. Lucas, a 2017 graduate of Archbishop Murphy, was a four-time All-Pac-12 pick, finally cracking the first team in 2021 as a redshirt senior.
But prior to that they were part of something special at Archbishop Murphy. When Lucas was a senior and Gordon was a junior they led the Wildcats to the Class 2A state championship in 2016. How good was that team? It finished 14-0 and outscored its opponents 463-44, including thrashing Liberty 56-14 in the state title game. That team was so good that it created waves nationally when five conference opponents elected to forfeit rather than play the Wildcats.
Gordon and Lucas were both two-way stars on that team, with Gordon gaining more than 1,300 yards from scrimmage as an all-purpose back, and Lucas notching 15 sacks as a defensive end.
“Abe was kind of a freak of nature kind of kid, just a big kid,” said Jerry Jensen, who was Archbishop Murphy’s head coach during the pair’s high school tenure. “Even through his junior year and the start of his senior year I wasn’t sure if basketball or football was his passion. Kyler was different, he was focused on football a little earlier. Both are great athletes and it was an amazing opportunity to coach kids like that.”
Gordon was the blue-chip recruit, the effervescent vocal leader who all the major NCAA Division I schools wanted because of his elite athleticism and body control.
“Kyler was just different,” Jansen said. “He was so explosive. We put him at running back for some plays, we had some plays for him in the slot. On defense he played corner and both safety positions, and basically if the other team had a stud player we could put Kyler on him and shut him down. One of my favorite memories from the state title game in 2016 was when Kyler scooped up a fumble, ran it back for a touchdown, then did a backflip in the end zone.”
Lucas was the late bloomer. More of a quiet leader by example, Lucas didn’t play tackle until his senior year as he was a tight end his first three years at Archbishop Murphy.
“To be honest with you, it was (former University of Washington coach Chris Petersen) who planted the seed about Abe being a tackle,” Jensen said. “We went down to a camp at UW in Abe’s sophomore or junior year and coach Petersen saw him and made sure I knew he had an NFL tackle’s body. Abe at the time was a tight end and didn’t really fancy playing tackle. It wasn’t until the WSU coaches came to school and offered him a scholarship that he agreed to play tackle.”
High school is a long way away from the NFL, but even then it was apparent that Gordon and Lucas were capable of having NFL futures.
“You knew they were special,” said Jensen, who as a former NFL player himself had a good perspective. “But there are a lot of variables that come into play. You have to have the skill, but you also have to have coaches who like and support you, and you have to stay healthy. To see them work through the struggles and overcome adversity was great to see.”
Although they’ve gone on to bigger and better things, both players still find time for their high school alma mater. Lucas attended the school’s end-of-season football banquet last fall in support of his younger brother, while Gordon has taken part in the school’s youth camps.
“The best thing about both those young men is that they’re great people,” Jansen said. “They still come around the community, they still talk to students at school about what to expect in college. They’re humble, hard-working young men.”
They’ll both be hearing their names called soon. Gordon was one of 21 players invited to attend the draft in Las Vegas. Meanwhile, Lucas will be holding a watch party in Pullman — with Jensen in attendance.
And by the draft’s end Saturday, Gordon and Lucas will have made Snohomish County football history.
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