Lake Stevens obliterated opponents nearly all season, winning its first 10 games by an average margin of 49.5 points. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Lake Stevens obliterated opponents nearly all season, winning its first 10 games by an average margin of 49.5 points. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Prep football year in review: A look back at the 2019 season

A look at the area’s ‘Fab Four,’ plus the games of the year, play of the year and most-improved squad.

With every local high school football team now eliminated from the state playoffs, here’s a look back at some of the highlights from an action-packed season.

THE FAB FOUR

The good news: For the first time since 2011, Snohomish County sent four teams — Lake Stevens, Marysville Pilchuck, Lakewood and Archbishop Murphy — to their respective classification’s state quarterfinals.

The bad news: All four of those teams lost their state quarterfinal games last Saturday. As a result, this was the first time since 2013 that Snohomish County won’t be represented in the state semifinals.

Nevertheless, it was a success-filled season for each of those four teams. So, we begin by looking back at this group of squads that carried the banner for Snohomish County this fall.

LAKE STEVENS’ DOMINANT CAMPAIGN ENDS IN STUNNER

Lake Stevens obliterated opponents nearly all season, winning its first 10 games by an average margin of 49.5 points. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Lake Stevens obliterated opponents nearly all season, winning its first 10 games by an average margin of 49.5 points. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Ever since falling to Union in last year’s Class 4A state-title game, Lake Stevens was on a mission to make it back to the state’s biggest stage.

Loaded with talent at seemingly every position group, the juggernaut Vikings obliterated their competition nearly all season. They scored 70-plus points three times. They posted five shutouts in nine regular-season contests. And they steamrolled conference opponents by a staggering 433-37 margin, cruising to their seventh consecutive Wesco 4A crown.

After outscoring teams by 49.5 points per game through its first 10 contests, Lake Stevens avenged last year’s title-game defeat with a 28-21 first-round state-playoff win over defending champion Union. But the Vikings’ title quest came to a stunning end in the quarterfinals, where they suffered a 24-22 season-ending loss to 11th-seeded Mount Si. The Wildcats stymied Lake Stevens’ high-powered rushing attack and the third-seeded Vikings made one too many costly mistakes, falling to Mount Si and its nationally ranked quarterback in a shocking conclusion to likely one of the most dominant seasons in Snohomish County prep football history.

It’s been a remarkable run of success for Lake Stevens, which over the past nine years has totaled eight state-playoff appearances, five quarterfinal appearances, three semifinal appearances and one title-game appearance. But despite its long list of accomplishments, the program’s first-ever official state championship remains elusive.

MARYSVILLE PILCHUCK MAKES STORYBOOK STATE QUARTERFINAL RUN

Marysville Pilchuck reached the 3A state quarterfinals and finished 11-1. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Marysville Pilchuck reached the 3A state quarterfinals and finished 11-1. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Just two years removed from a youth-filled two-win campaign, Marysville Pilchuck completed a massive turnaround with an 11-1 season and a 3A state quarterfinal appearance.

Riding a powerful Slot-T rushing attack and strong defense, the Tomahawks won each of their Wesco 3A North contests by at least 27 points and routed Snohomish 52-3 in the Wesco 3A title game. Then after holding off Ballard in a winner-to-state contest, Marysville Pilchuck prevailed for a wild back-and-forth overtime win over Prairie to advance to the state quarterfinals for the fourth time in program history.

The Tomahawks fell to ultra-talented Lincoln and its star-studded array of college recruits in the quarterfinals, but that doesn’t diminish what was a storybook season for Marysville Pilchuck.

LAKEWOOD FALLS JUST SHORT OF STATE SEMIFINALS

Lakewood reached the state quarterfinals for just the third time in program history. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Lakewood reached the state quarterfinals for just the third time in program history. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

After finishing 0-4 in the talent-laden Northwest 2A Sky Division last year and graduating numerous all-conference players, Lakewood rebounded with one of its best seasons in program history.

Led by dual-threat quarterback Jared Taylor and a stingy defense, the Cougars compiled a 9-2 record and reached the state quarterfinals for just the third time ever.

Lakewood went 4-1 in the rugged Sky Division, earning signature victories over Sedro-Woolley and fellow state quarterfinalist Archbishop Murphy. The Cougars then topped Liberty-Issaquah in the winner-to-state round and routed Sequim in their 2A state opener.

Lakewood was on the verge of just its second-ever state semifinal trip after taking a 14-point lead into the fourth quarter of its quarterfinal clash against Hockinson. But the two-time defending state champions rallied for a 29-28 win, delivering a crushing end to the Cougars’ success-filled season.

ARCHBISHOP MURPHY BOUNCES BACK WITH QUARTERFINAL RETURN

Archbishop Murphy returned to the state quarterfinals after missing the state playoffs last year. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Archbishop Murphy returned to the state quarterfinals after missing the state playoffs last year. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

After missing the state playoffs last year, Archbishop Murphy rebounded to reach the state quarterfinals for the 14th time in the past 18 seasons.

The Wildcats beat two-time defending state champion Hockinson in Week 2, handing the Hawks their only loss of the past three seasons. Archbishop Murphy also beat Sedro-Woolley twice, including a smothering defensive performance in the winner-to-state round. The Wildcats then shut out North Kitsap in their state opener to return to the quarterfinals.

Archbishop Murphy ran into a buzzsaw in its quarterfinal loss to overwhelming 2A state-title favorite Tumwater, which continued its season-long tear with a rout of the Wildcats. But it was nevertheless a strong bounceback campaign for Archbishop Murphy, which climbed back to its familiar standing as a 2A power during coach Mark Leone’s first season at the helm.

GAMES OF THE YEAR

With so many worthy candidates, this was a tough list to narrow down. But here are the top five:

1. Marysville Pilchuck 37, Prairie 30 (OT) — 3A state first round. This wild state opener — which was played through thick fog for much of the night — featured four lead changes in the fourth quarter and overtime. After Prairie scored a go-ahead touchdown with 25 seconds left in regulation, an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and short squib kick helped give Marysville Pilchuck a chance in the closing seconds. Edgar Martinez kicked a game-tying 39-yard field goal as time expired to keep the Tomahawks’ season alive, and Dylan Carson scored the go-ahead touchdown in overtime to lift Marysville Pilchuck into the state quarterfinals.

2. Monroe 42, Eastlake 41 (OT) — Week 1 (Monroe later forfeited the game). Monroe later had to forfeit this contest because of an ineligible player, but it was nevertheless a dramatic season opener. After rallying from a 14-point halftime deficit, the Bearcats blocked an extra point on Eastlake’s overtime possession, then answered with a touchdown and game-winning extra point on their overtime possession to beat (at least for the time being) an eventual 4A state-playoff team.

3. Mount Vernon 48, Cascade 47 (2OT) — Week 3. After Mount Vernon rallied from a 19-0 second-quarter deficit, both teams went back and forth in the second half and traded lost fumbles in the first overtime. Cascade then scored a go-ahead touchdown in the second overtime, but a missed extra point proved costly. Mount Vernon answered with a touchdown and game-winning extra point, prevailing for a dramatic victory in one of the area’s highest-scoring games this season.

4. Shorecrest 36, Snohomish 35 — Week 5. Facing a seven-point deficit with less than three minutes to play, Shorecrest drove downfield and scored a touchdown to make it a one-point game with 24 seconds remaining. The Scots then elected to go for the win, and Marcus Tidwell ran in the deciding 2-point conversion to hand Snohomish its only Wesco 3A South loss of the past two seasons.

5. Hockinson 29, Lakewood 28 — 2A state quarterfinals. Lakewood took a 14-point lead into the fourth quarter, but the two-time defending state champions rallied for two touchdowns in the final period. Hockinson pulled in front on a deciding 2-point conversion with less than three mintues remaining and ended the Cougars’ season in crushing fashion.

PLAY OF THE YEAR

Savchuk’s highlight-reel TD catch. Determining a play of the year in high school sports is a virtually impossible endeavor, but it’s difficult to imagine there being a better play this season than Mariner receiver Roman Savchuk’s highlight-reel touchdown catch against Glaicer Peak.

Savchuk sprinted down the left sideline on a go-route and did his best impression of former NFL superstar Randy Moss, leaping over the back of a Glacier Peak cornerback to make a spectacular grab. Savchuk then kept his balance and coasted in for a 64-yard score that was worthy of a spot on ESPN for SportsCenter’s Top 10 Plays.

MOST-IMPROVED TEAM

Lynnwood. After going 1-19 over the previous two seasons — including a winless campaign last year — the Royals took significant strides this fall during a 4-6 season.

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