EVERETT — Archbishop Murphy orchestrated a dominant defensive performance and scored a 23-3 nonconference, season-opening win over visiting Eatonville on Thursday night at Terry Ennis Stadium.
The Wildcats allowed just 4 total yards of offense and were a special teams miscue and a pair of penalties away from a shutout.
Junior running back Mason Mathis ran for 120 yards and a score on 17 carries, and Dillon Halpin caught six pass for 77 yards, including a 17-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Victor Gabalis. Max Henderson converted all three of his field-goal attempts, hitting from 18, 22 and 37 yards out.
After reaching the Class 2A state tournament semifinals last year, the Wildcats opened the season with a convincing win, relying largely on a stingy defense that completely grounded Eatonville’s offensive attack.
Mason Mathis — Mathis led the Wildcats with 120 rushing yards on 17 carries and ran for a 36-yard touchdown on an inside handoff. Mathis also snagged a late interception.
Josh McCarron — The sophomore defensive lineman was active all night, accounting for at least three sacks and a fumble recovery. He was part of a defense that held Eatonville to negative 20 rushing yards.
Dillon Halpin — Halpin, a senior wideout, proved to be Gabalis’ favorite target. Halpin caught six passes for 77 yards and hauled in a 17-yard touchdown.
Max Henderson — The Wildcats senior kicker was a perfect 5-for-5 on the night. He made field goals from 18, 22 and 37 yards and drilled both his PATs.
Hunter Brooks — The Eatonville senior linebacker offered a bright spot for the Cruisers. Brooks recorded a pair of sacks and helped make critical red zone and short-yardage stops that prevented the score from swelling in Murphy’s favor.
Archbishop Murphy’s Jack Barnes pounced on a loose football early in the second quarter when Eatonville’s long snapper sent a ball flying over his punter’s head. The Wildcats, leading 3-0, recovered on Eatonville’s 17-yard line, and the next play Gabalis found Halpin for a 17-yard score. Two field goals later, and the Wildcats took a 16-0 lead into halftime.
“We are a young team, and that showed at times tonight, but I am really proud of how the boys came out and competed. … Our defensive coaches do a great job with our defense to get them prepared, and they really love to play defense. They did a great job, and we’ll keep riding them as long as we can.” — Archbishop Murphy coach Jerry Jensen
“Our defense was lights out. Like it’s been the last few years, our defense is giving us energy everyday. At practice, it gives us energy, and we came out here and did the same thing. We always trust that the brother next to us is going to make the play, and that brings us the chemistry that we need to perform.” — Archbishop Murphy WR/DB Dillon Halpin
“They are just very, very impressive up front. They are going to give a lot of teams difficultly up front. Hats off to how well they played defensively.” — Eatonville coach Gavin Kralik
Jensen praised Murphy’s ability to overcome some bad injury luck. The Wildcats ran out a young offensive line, and multiple players complimented the work of sophomore lineman Marc Galvagno.
“Marc Galvagno really stepped up,” Gabalis said. “He worked his butt off all summer long. He just came out and balled out. I was really happy for him. He did really well.”
The Wildcats face a huge test next week against Hockinson, the defending 2A state champion. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 6, at Terry Ennis Stadium. Eatonville next faces Evergreen.