SNOHOMISH — The first time Snohomish running back Keegan Stich touched the ball he scampered 70 yards for a touchdown. The second time he got the ball he ran 62 yards for another TD, and his final carry of the game resulted in a 71-yard TD burst.
In between those long scoring runs the visiting Marysville Pilchuck football team kept the explosive Stich somewhat in check. But the rest of the Snohomish offense showed no let-up as the Panthers powered to a 63-13 non-conference victory over the Tomahawks on Friday night in the season opener for both teams.
“I’m proud of the way our kids came out and got after it, and then they stayed after it the whole game,” said Snohomish coach Kai Smalley. Of the team’s offensive outburst, he said, “We knew how explosive we can be and our kids lived up to it tonight.”
“We just came out really good and positive, and we played that way the whole way,” Panthers quarterback Brandon Jodock said.
For Snohomish, it was a night of big numbers. On the scoreboard, of course, but also on the stat sheet. Stich, a 5-foot-10, 190-pound junior, led the way with 269 yards on 14 carries with four rushing touchdowns, and he added a 45-yard reception for a fifth TD. All of this in barely more than two quarters of action.
But Stich was hardly the only Snohomish hero. Jodock was 11-for-13 for 223 yards with four touchdowns, while wide receiver Josh Johnston had five receptions for 129 yards and three touchdowns while also snagging a defensive interception..
“Keegan Stich is my best friend and he works really hard. He’s the best running back I’ve ever seen,” Jodock said. “And Josh Johnston is probably the hardest worker on this team. He’s a playmaker, and I’d get him the ball every time if I could.”
Snohomish set the tone in a dominating first half, scoring touchdowns on all seven offensive possessions of the first two periods. Three of those TDs came on the Panthers’ first play of a drive.
And the third period began with more of the same. After taking the opening kickoff, Stich broke through a hole in the right side, cut back to the middle of the field and then broke to the left sideline for a 71-yard touchdown run. That score pushed the lead to 56-13, and the rest of the game was played under a running clock.
The Panthers closed the scoring in the late minutes as linebacker Vinnie Emery came up with the ball in the middle of the pile and returned it 78 yards for the team’s final TD.
For Snohomish, which moved from Class 4A to 3A this season, the victory sets up a big showdown with cross-district rival Glacier Peak next week. The first game between the two teams was in 2011, and the Panthers are 0-5 in those meetings, including 0-3 under Smalley.
“There’s going to be one game our kids circle on their calendar (every season),” Smalley said. “They’re excited about (playing Glacier Peak) and now we can focus on it. I know it’s probably been in the back their heads, but we had to make sure we took care of business this week.
“We did, and now we have to come out and have a good week of preparation,” he said. “The message is the same. We have to come out and do what we do.”
“I’m excited,” Jodock added. “That’s the game that we all care about. That’s the big one.”