It was sure an action-packed week of high school football in Snohomish County.
Lake Stevens routed Glacier Peak in their highly anticipated showdown. Monroe fell to Ferndale in the Wesco 3A title game. And the postseason got underway elsewhere in Wesco 3A, with several local teams winning loser-out crossover games to advance to the Week 10 playoffs.
Here are four takeaways following the Week 9 slate:
LAKE STEVENS LOOKS LIKE THE TEAM TO BEAT IN 4A
The Vikings made it abundantly clear that they’re still the kings of Wesco 4A. And in the most emphatic way possible, they positioned themselves as the Class 4A state title favorite. Third-ranked Lake Stevens turned last Friday night’s highly anticipated 4A top-five showdown into a one-sided beatdown, routing top-ranked Glacier Peak 57-17 to claim its ninth consecutive Wesco 4A crown and its 54th consecutive league victory. The Vikings (7-2, 4-0 Wesco 4A) erased an early 10-0 deficit and outscored the Grizzlies 57-7 the rest of the way, sending a strong message that will resonate throughout the state’s highest classification.
On a highlight-filled night for Lake Stevens, the most encouraging sign was the play of sophomore quarterback Kolton Matson. At times this fall, the Vikings’ passing attack had sputtered and been inconsistent. But on Friday, Matson was brilliant. He was an efficient 11-of-15 passing for 190 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions, while making several big-time throws. He tossed a perfectly placed long TD pass to fellow sophomore Cassidy Bolong-Banks late in the first half, and later hit senior Isaac Redford for a pair of key completions despite having to make an off-balanced throw with a defender in his face both times. “He looked like a savvy veteran playing quarterback tonight,” Lake Stevens coach Tom Tri said after the game.
Matson’s strong performance allowed the Vikings to sport a balanced offensive attack. Notre Dame-bound star senior running back Jayden Limar had another big night, rushing for 122 yards and four TDs. But it wasn’t just the Limar show. Bolong-Banks totaled 111 yards on five offensive touches, including a pair of game-swinging long TDs on either side of the halftime break. And Redford added four catches for 98 yards and a score. As future opponents look to slow down Limar on the ground, it’s imperative that Lake Stevens find success through the air. The Vikings certainly did that Friday night — and against a strong Glacier Peak defense, no less.
On the other side of the ball, Lake Stevens was similarly impressive. The Grizzlies (7-2, 3-1) came in averaging more than 40 points per game, led by their slew of talented playmakers. But the Vikings’ defense shut them down, allowing just 17 points and 271 total yards. After Glacier Peak opened the game with a pair of run-heavy scoring drives, Lake Stevens adjusted by rotating in a fifth defensive lineman on running downs. The move worked to perfection, as the Grizzlies mustered just seven points, 3.9 yards per carry and 152 total yards over their final nine possessions. And the Vikings completely bottled up Glacier Peak through the air all night, limiting it to just 6-of-14 passing for 78 yards, one TD and two interceptions.
Lake Stevens took some lumps earlier this season during an ultra-tough non-league slate, suffering a mistake-filled loss to talent-laden Garfield and a blowout defeat to Oregon juggernaut West Linn. But after what they did to top-ranked Glacier Peak, the Vikings sure look like the team to beat in what figures to be a wide-open 4A state playoff field. “There’s some good 4A teams,” Tri said. “But if we can find a way to execute and continue to keep getting better, I think we have as good a shot as anybody in 4A right now.”
— Cameron Van Til
CAN GLACIER PEAK BOUNCE BACK AND STILL MAKE A DEEP RUN?
As great of a night as it was for Lake Stevens, it was an absolutely brutal one for Glacier Peak. The stage was set for the Grizzlies to take another major step in their program’s rise and validate their status as the top-ranked team in 4A. On paper, it looked like they had the talent on both sides of the ball to match up with the mighty Vikings and potentially end Lake Stevens’ nearly decade-long grip on Wesco 4A. And early on, it seemed like the game was headed toward a tight four-quarter battle. Glacier Peak led 10-0 early in the second quarter and held a three-point edge until the final minute of the first half. But then, it all unraveled in stunningly quick fashion.
The good news for the Grizzlies? There’s precedent for a Wesco 4A runner-up overcoming a blowout loss to Lake Stevens and making a deep postseason run. Back when Monroe was in Wesco 4A, the Bearcats frequently played second fiddle to the Vikings — similar to Glacier Peak’s current status as Lake Stevens’ top league challenger. And in 2017, after entering a much-anticipated regular-season finale with legitimate hopes of toppling the Vikings for the Wesco 4A crown, a talented Monroe team suffered a crushing 38-12 loss to Lake Stevens. But the Bearcats bounced right back, winning a pair of playoff games to earn their first-ever trip to the 4A state quarterfinals.
Can Glacier Peak pull off a similar feat? Despite the blowout loss, the Grizzlies’ overall body of work this fall seems to indicate they’re still one of the top 4A teams in the state — especially considering how wide-open the classification is this season, without the type of truly dominant team there’s often been in years past. However, they certainly have plenty to clean up and improve on after what transpired Friday.
One area Glacier Peak undoubtedly will look to fix is the lack of touches its pair of three-star senior Pac-12 commits received against Lake Stevens. The Grizzlies have a pair of offensive game-changers in versatile Washington State-bound receiver Trey Leckner and Oregon State-bound tight end Cooper Jensen, but they got a total of just four touches Friday. Aside from a 35-yard catch-and-run score by Leckner and two 10-yard receptions by Jensen, it was a quiet night for both of them. For Glacier Peak to make a deep state playoff run, it likely needs to get that talented duo more involved than it was in this game.
— Cameron Van Til
MISCUES PLAGUE MONROE, BUT PLAYMAKING ABILITY STILL SHOWS
It was a mostly forgettable night for 3A sixth-ranked Monroe’s high-octane group on offense in Friday’s 34-28 loss to 10th-ranked Ferndale in the Wesco 3A title game. After avoiding any turnovers in five of their previous six games, the previously unbeaten Bearcats (8-1) coughed the ball up five times and nearly matched their season total of seven in one night. The most costly giveaway came midway through the fourth quarter when a fumbled snap on fourth-and-goal from the Ferndale 1-yard line ended a drive that could’ve tied a back-and-forth contest at 28. The Golden Eagles (7-2) made it a two-score game two plays later on Isaiah Carlson’s 94-yard TD run. On top of the turnovers, Monroe managed just 10 rushing yards against Ferndale’s massive and talented defensive front.
The turnovers and lack of ability to sustain drives with balance ultimately led to a tough challenge for Monroe’s defense, which spent a majority of the night on the field while Ferndale chewed clock with its physical run-heavy offense. The Bearcats did get stops by forcing two turnovers and four three-and-outs, but they were too often tasked with defending a short field. Six of Ferndale’s first eight drives started at their own 39 or better — three of which went for TDs.
Despite everything that went wrong offensively, there was still plenty for Monroe to be encouraged about. It was a one-score game in the end, a result of Monroe’s dangerous, big-play abilities. The special-teams unit continued to shine with sophomores Mason Davis and Beau Pruett returning kickoffs for scores. Pruett also had a key punt return to set up a short TD drive. And when the Bearcats needed to score a quick touchdown in the final minutes, they did just that by dialing up a trick play for a 78-yard TD pass to set up an onside-kick attempt down one score. If Monroe cleans up its mistakes, it’ll surely be a tough out for any team from here on out. “We’re still feeling really confident that we can beat anybody in the state if we play our best game,” Bearcats coach Scott Darrow said.
— Zac Hereth
WESCO 3A NORTH CONTINUES TO DOMINATE THE SOUTH
Once again, the Wesco 3A North flexed its muscles and dominated the Wesco 3A South in the conference’s Week 9 crossover round. The North won six of the seven matchups between the two leagues this past week, while outscoring the South by an average of 18.3 points in those seven contests.
In the Wesco 3A title game, North champion Ferndale beat South champion Monroe 34-28. In the matchup of league runners-up, North No. 2 seed Stanwood cruised past South No. 2 seed Snohomish 42-21. In a pair of loser-out games, North No. 3 Arlington beat South No. 5 Shorewood 30-7 and North No. 4 Marysville Pilchuck defeated South No. 4 Mountlake Terrace 35-13. And in the two matchups without postseason implications, North No. 6 Marysville Getchell rolled past South No. 6 Lynnwood 48-14 and North No. 7 Mount Vernon routed South No. 7 Shorecrest 34-7. The South’s only victory came from No. 3 Edmonds-Woodway, which edged North No. 5 Oak Harbor 26-21 in a loser-out contest.
The North’s dominance of the South has been a common theme in recent years. Over the past four full-length seasons, the North is 23-4 against the South in Week 9 crossover matchups, having outscored the South by an average of 22.7 points in those games. And in the 23 crossover matchups during that span that were between corresponding seeds — No. 1 versus No. 1, No. 2 versus No. 2, etc. — the North is 21-2. Each year, the crossover round is an excellent way to compare the two leagues from top to bottom. And yet again, there’s no debate: The Wesco 3A North is the superior of the two.
— Cameron Van Til
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