MARYSVILLE — Are there any doubters remaining? Can anyone possibly wonder if the Marysville-Pilchuck High School football team is for real?
Certainly, the homecoming throng that swarmed the field at Quil Ceda Stadium after the Tommies’ dramatic, come-from-behind 20-13 victory over previously unbeaten Lake Stevens Friday night in a Western Conference North Division game consisted of nothing but true believers.
“They believe in us now,” first-year M-P coach Brandon Carson said above the din. “They’re behind us 100 percent now.”
After falling behind by two touchdowns in the first half, M-P (3-2 in league play and overall) clawed back and got the winning score on a 52-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Denay Stell to Caleb Posey with 3:15 remaining in the game.
Lake Stevens had an opportunity to come back, but M-P defensive end Tannon Hillis came from the left side, buried Vikings quarterback Nick Baker and forced a fumble that was recovered by the Tommies’ Jamie Cruz.
“(Cruz) is the heart and soul of our defense,” Carson said of the 240-pound senior tackle who seemed to be in on just about every stop.
The Tommies started the victory drive at their own 16-yard line with just over six minutes to play.
On fourth down at their own 21-yard line, the Tommies set up in punt formation, but the center short-snapped the ball to Devin Peterson. The halfback threw a swing pass to Justin Freeman, who scampered 21 yards for a first down.
Three more plays netted 6 yards and M-P, facing fourth-and-four at its own 48-yard line, called a timeout.
“Coach (offensive coordinator Scott Stokes) told us to just believe,” Stell said. “We never panicked. Everybody just picked each other up in the huddle.”
Levi Cartas, who made a leaping 29-yard touchdown reception late in the first half to get the Tommies on the scoreboard, ran a post route and drew double coverage.
Posey, running a wheel route, was wide open on the left side and Stell threw a pass to the 5-foot-9, 175-pound junior running back. Posey bobbled the ball before gathering it in and streaking down the sideline and into the end zone with the 52-yard touchdown reception that gave the Tommies their first lead of the game, 18-13.
“I didn’t care if (Posey) bobbled the ball all the way to the end zone,” Stell said. “He made the play and that’s all that matters.”
Stell threw a two-point conversion pass to Andy Abadam to account for the final score.
“(Stell) is our leader. He’s our guy,” Carson said.
An upset seemed unlikely after the Tommies fell behind Lake Stevens (3-1, 4-1) by two touchdowns in the first half.
Baker was very sharp in the first two quarters, completing 10-of-14 passes for 140 yards, including an 18-yard touchdown toss to Dustin Adams that gave the Vikings a 13-0 lead in the opening seconds of the second quarter.
Lake Stevens opened the game with an 11-play, 64-yard scoring march, capped by Clark Ferrucci’s 1-yard scoring plunge.
On Lake Stevens’ next possession, Baker’s first pass was dropped. He then handed off six straight times before running 16 yards himself. On a first-down play at the M-P 35-yard line, he fired a 17-yard completion to Sean Driscoll. On the next play he found Adams (five receptions, 66 yards, TD) in the end zone to make the score 13-0.
With its offense struggling and having fallen behind by two touchdowns, M-P’s defense – led all night by the likes of Cruz and Hillis – stopped the Vikings on their next possession and put together a 13-play, 66-yard scoring drive that ended with Cartas’ acrobatic catch to cut the gap to 13-6 with a minute to play in the second quarter.
The Tommies opened the second half with a 14-play, 71-yard scoring drive. Posey carried the ball seven times for 36 yards before Denay Stell scampered around the right side with a 5-yard TD run.
On the ensuing conversion play, Adams streaked into the M-P backfield untouched and blocked the kick to ensure the Vikings would, for a time, maintain their 13-12 lead.
“This is just great for our kids,” Carson said. “This is what high school football is all about.”
At Quil Ceda Stadium
LS—Ferrucci 1 run (Frost kick)
LS—Adams 18 pass from Baker (kick failed)
M-P—Cartas 29 pass from Stell (kick failed)
M-P—Stell 5 run (kick blocked)
M-P—Posey 52 pass from Stell (Abadam pass from Stell)
Records—Lake Stevens 3-1 in division, 4-1 overall. Marysville-Pilchuck 3-2, 3-2.