EVERETT — The Cascade High School football team’s Wing-T rushing attack was an overpowering force during its first four games.
But against Glacier Peak’s stifling defense, the Bruins struggled to get their ground game untracked.
The Grizzlies kept Cascade’s rushing attack in check, made several key third-quarter defensive plays and remained unbeaten with a 35-14 win Friday night in a Wesco 4A clash at Everett Memorial Stadium.
“They’re super disciplined,” Bruins coach Jordan Sieh said of Glacier Peak’s defense. “… It’s one of those games where you can’t have a missed block. You have to take advantage of every opportunity, because they don’t really give you anything.”
Cascade entered Friday averaging more than 400 yards rushing per game, led by 269 yards per contest from star running back Davanta Murphy-Mcmillan. But the Bruins managed just 129 total yards and 2.8 yards per play against the Grizzlies’ stout defense, which hasn’t allowed more than 14 points in a game all season.
Murphy-Mcmillan finished with 135 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries, with 65 of those yards coming on a first-quarter scoring run.
Cascade was facing its former head coach, Shane Keck, for the first time since he took over as head coach at Glacier Peak. Keck coached the Bruins from 2015 to 2017 and ran the Wing-T offense for his final two seasons at Cascade.
“I think really just trusting our keys and reading it,” Keck said when asked how his defense was able to slow down the Bruins’ ground attack. “… The big thing is our kids believe that the other team is not going to score. (Even when our defense) goes back in on bad field position, our kids still believe they’re not going to score. So I think that’s a big part of why we’ve been able to have some success defensively.”
After leading 21-14 at halftime, Glacier Peak (5-0 overall, 3-0 Wesco 4A) thwarted several potential Cascade scoring chances during a wild back-and-forth sequence to open the third quarter.
The Bruins (2-3, 1-2) began the second half by recovering an onside kick and moved inside the Glacier Peak 40-yard line, but the Grizzlies forced and recovered a fumble just two plays later. Then after Murphy-Mcmillan intercepted a pass to set up the Bruins at the Glacier Peak 30, Cascade lost a fumble on the very next play.
The Bruins then got a defensive stop and drove to the Glacier Peak 3, but the Grizzlies stuffed Murphy-Mcmillan on back-to-back runs and blocked the ensuing field-goal attempt to preserve their seven-point lead.
“It just felt like there were three chances there early in the third to tie the game up (and) take all the momentum back,” Sieh said. “… When you get those opportunities, you’ve gotta cash them in, because there might only be a couple per game.”
On the ensuing possession, Glacier Peak faced a 4th-and-12 from the Cascade 39. Keck elected to keep his offense on the field, and the gamble paid off.
First-year starting quarterback Tyson Lang lofted a 39-yard TD pass over the top of the Bruins’ defense to a wide-open Matt Torgeson, extending the Grizzlies’ lead to 28-14 late in the third quarter.
“I felt like we needed a big momentum swing, and I think that’s what kind of put us over the hump eventually,” Keck said. “The safety jumped over the top on the corner route and (Lang) hit (Torgeson) right down the pipe. It was a heck of a throw, heck of a catch and a big play. It changed the game for us.”
In the fourth quarter, Ryan Black added a 17-yard TD run for Glacier Peak to put the game firmly out of reach.
Dylan Owen led the Grizzlies’ rushing attack with 138 yards and a TD. Black added 116 yards and two scores.
“Our running game did great,” Lang said. “Big credit to the O-line.”
Cascade struck first on Murphy-Mcmillan’s long opening-quarter TD scamper, but Glacier Peak responded by marching downfield and scoring on a 3-yard run by Owen.
The Grizzlies added two more TDs in the second quarter. The first came on 4th-and-goal, when Lang connected with Torgeson on a wide-receiver screen pass for a 3-yard TD. Black then broke free for a 43-yard TD run on Glacier Peak’s next possession to stretch the lead to 21-6.
In the final minute of the first half, Murphy-Mcmillan plowed into the end zone for a short TD to cut the margin to seven points. But the Grizzlies’ defense turned away Cascade in the third quarter and held strong the rest of the way.
“(Our) defense did a great job,” Lang said. “They set the tone for the offense and made a lot of big stops.”