EVERETT — Three weeks ago, the Snohomish football team surrendered 63 points and was gashed for more than 500 yards rushing in a season-opening loss to Marysville Pilchuck.
The Panthers’ defense has come a long way since that dismal start.
Snohomish limited Everett to just 144 yards of total offense and dominated all aspects of the game, rolling to a 36-3 win over the Seagulls in a Wesco 3A South clash Friday evening at Everett Memorial Stadium.
The Panthers (2-2 overall, 2-0 Wesco 3A South) bottled up Everett’s offense and regularly invaded the backfield, recording seven sacks and holding the Seagulls to just 2.8 yards per play.
“It’s absolutely beautiful when you get brothers trusting each other to do their jobs at a high level — when they have no doubt,” first-year Snohomish coach Joey Hammer said of his team’s lockdown defense. “It’s just absolutely awesome.”
The Panthers’ victory avenged a 38-14 loss to Everett last season.
“We had a big grudge this week, because last year they kind of took it to us,” Snohomish senior running back Tyler Massena said. “So we just prepared, studied, watched film and took it to them tonight.”
With back-to-back wins over Shorewood and Everett to open conference play, Snohomish sits atop the wide-open Wesco 3A South. The Panthers are the only team still unbeaten in Wesco 3A South play.
DEFENSE SETS THE TONE
Snohomish’s defense set the tone from the opening snap, pushing the Seagulls (1-3, 1-2) backward on their first two possessions for a pair of three-and-outs. Everett totaled minus-16 yards on its first six plays, including a pair of sacks by the Panthers’ swarming defense.
The first three-and-out gave the Panthers prime field position at the Seagulls 33-yard line. Seven plays later, Snohomish senior Tayte Conover scored on a 1-yard quarterback keeper to give the Panthers an early 7-0 lead.
Massena added an 11-yard touchdown run midway through the second quarter to stretch the margin to 14-3.
PANTHERS USE SPECIAL TEAMS TO PULL AWAY
Snohomish pulled away early in the third quarter, converting a pair of momentum-swinging special-teams plays into two quick touchdowns.
On the opening kickoff of the second half, Massena returned the ball past midfield to set up the Panthers on the Everett 47. Then after Massena ran for gains of 17 and 21 yards, Conover scored on a 9-yard quarterback keeper to push the lead to 22-3 just one minute into the third quarter.
The Seagulls then muffed the ensuing kickoff, and Snohomish sophomore Grady Kentch fell on the loose ball at the Everett 9. Three plays later, backup quarterback Langdon Orgill plowed into the end zone on a 2-yard run to make it 29-3 less than three minutes into the half.
“We always say, ‘Special teams, be special,’” Massena said. “And we did that tonight.”
Without ever taking an offensive snap, Everett’s 11-point halftime deficit ballooned to 26 points, and the Seagulls never recovered.
“We made a lot of mistakes, and that allowed them to get momentum,” first-year Everett coach David Coldiron said. “They got momentum, and we couldn’t get it back.”
PANTHERS ON THE RISE
After the season-opening blowout loss to Marysville Pilchuck, Snohomish played Glacier Peak tough in a Week 2 rivalry loss before beating Shorewood 49-21 last week and routing the Seagulls.
“With the new (coaching) staff, it was sort of just waiting for those cogs to turn and getting meshed,” Massena said of his team’s improved play the past few weeks. “And, well, I like to think we’re really on a roll right now. We’re like a train, and we’re going to keep on chugging.”
“These boys haven’t even reached (their potential) yet,” Hammer added. “That’s the best part. They’re realizing (that) when they have the ability to let loose and do what they do, it’s pretty special.”
OFFENSIVE STRUGGLES CONTINUE FOR EVERETT
This marked the third time in four games that the Seagulls have managed less than 300 yards of total offense. Everett is averaging just 17.8 points and 211 total yards per contest.
Tyler Massena, sr., Snohomish: Massena rushed for 80 yards and a touchdown on eight carries, leading a Panthers rushing attack that totaled 259 yards and averaged 6.3 yards per carry. Massena also had a long kickoff return to open the second half.
Tayte Conover, sr., Snohomish: Conover scored on a pair of quarterback keepers and tossed a 32-yard touchdown pass to Jacob Brandvold late in the third quarter.
Christian Balmer, sr., Everett: The hard-running Balmer rushed for 106 yards on 23 carries, accounting for the vast majority of the Seagulls’ offense.
Snohomish junior running back Tyler Larson appeared to injure his right leg on a carry in the third quarter. Larson had to be helped off the field and didn’t return. He finished with 67 yards on 14 carries.
Snohomish faces Shorecrest next Friday night at Shoreline Stadium in a key Wesco 3A South matchup. The Scots (3-1, 2-1) fell to crosstown rival Shorewood 24-0 in Friday night’s annual Rotary Cup game.
Everett looks to rebound against much-improved Shorewood (3-1, 2-1) next Friday night at Everett Memorial Stadium. The Seagulls have lost two straight and are in need of a victory to keep pace in the Wesco 3A South postseason race.