PREP NOTEBOOK: Lots at stake for Stilly Cup teams

What is the Stilly Cup?

If you live in (or even near) Arlington or Stanwood you almost certainly know the answer. Actually, you’ve known for a long time. But for readers who need a quick history lesson, here you go.

The Stilly Cup game is the annual rivalry battle between the Arlington High School and Stanwood High School football teams. The rivals have a long, memorable history that received a jolt of energy in the late 1960s when then-head coaches Terry Ennis (Stanwood) and Don Gibbons (Arlington) came up with the idea of awarding a traveling trophy — the Stilly Cup — to the team that won each year.

Ennis and Gibbons, close friends, named the trophy for the Stillaguamish River Valley that unites the teams’ communities. The Stilly Cup game was an immediate hit and has been a huge yearly event ever since, inspiring pranks, parking-lot fights among students in the early 1980s and plenty of trash-talking.

Stanwood currently owns the Cup thanks to its 48-39 victory last year. But Arlington has dominated the all-time series; the Eagles have won 27 of the past 38 games in the rivalry, according to results printed on the trophy.

As if it wasn’t already intense enough, this year’s Stilly Cup battle — kickoff is set for 7 p.m. tonight at Arlington High — has extra significance. Arlington (3-2 Western Conference North Division, 4-4 overall) and Stanwood (3-2, 3-5) are fighting for a postseason trip. If Lake Stevens beats Snohomish, the Stilly Cup winner will earn the division’s final playoff berth.

“There’s a lot of meaning to the game. Last year there wasn’t so much, so it’s been real exciting,” second-year Arlington coach Greg Dailer said. “You know, you don’t have to give a great speech (during) Stilly Cup week. The kids are already ready to go.”

Aaron Cupp, Stanwood’s first-year coach, hears about the rivalry everywhere he goes. “It seems like that’s what everyone wants to talk about,” Cupp said. “Even people just in passing, you see them: ‘Hey, I’ll see you Friday night. We’re traveling to Arlington.’”

“You’ve got the rivalry, the Stilly Cup — you’ve got all these things going on,” said Cupp. “And then you’ve got the playoffs on top of it.”

Stanwood LB Steik adjusting to position

In his first season as a middle linebacker, Jay Steik is on a roll. The Stanwood senior leads the Spartans with five interceptions and four fumble recoveries. Until he switched to the middle earlier this fall, Steik (6-foot-5, 195 pounds) was an outside backer. “I like to think most of (Steik’s success) is the defense around me setting that up,” he said. “If it wasn’t for everyone else doing their job, I wouldn’t be able to do mine.”

Linebacker Petersen spearheading Eagles’ ‘D’

When junior Blake Petersen made 17 tackles in back-to-back games this month, his Arlington teammates and coaches were impressed. Then the middle linebacker racked up 20 tackles and returned a fumble 37 yards for a TD last week versus Snohomish. Petersen (6-2, 185) has “been an animal lately,” coach Dailer said. “We knew he was going to be good.” Petersen is the Eagles defensive leader, along with senior linebacker Jeff Owen, said Dailer.

Stilly Cup shenanigans

Parents of Arlington players watched the Eagles practice on Tuesday and admired commemorative T-shirts made for this year’s Stilly Cup game. Bruce Reinecke, whose son plays for Arlington’s junior-varsity squad, said more than 100 of the shirts had already been sold for $10 each. The parents then shared stories about famous pranks that happened during the week of Stilly Cup games in the past several decades — something about delivering an outhouse to the opposing school, another tale about stealing a goat and also memories of giant bonfires on the eve of the game.

Quick slants

Jackson running back/linebacker Riley Carr (ankle) has been medically cleared to play this week against Cascade. Carr sat out unbeaten Jackson’s previous game, a 27-17 win over Mountlake Terrace. Carr leads Jackson with 628 yards rushing, 507 yards receiving and 22 offensive TDs. … Jackson kicker Daniel Sullivan is the nephew of 1971 Heisman Trophy winner Pat Sullivan, who won the Heisman as Auburn University’s quarterback. Daniel Sullivan made two field goals (46 yards and 35 yards), was 3-for-3 on extra-point kicks and booted four touchbacks on kickoffs last week against Terrace. … In addition to trying for their first-ever football playoff berth, the Mountlake Terrace Hawks (3-2 Wesco South, 5-3) are going for their first six-win season since 1974, Terrace coach Tony Umayam said. … With 1,596 yards in seven games played, Marysville-Pilchuck running back Austin Denton is averaging 228 yards per game (11 yards per carry) and three TDs per game. The state’s all-time single-season rushing leader for 11-man football (Ferndale’s Matthias Wilson) averaged 191 yards in 14 games en route to setting the record in 1997.

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