After graduating numerous key players from last year’s Class 4A state-quarterfinal squad, the Monroe football team took its lumps during a challenging opening stretch.
The youth-laden Bearcats dropped each of their first three games, falling to Eastlake, seventh-ranked Woodinville and fourth-ranked Lake Stevens.
The tough start made last week’s 42-10 rout of Mariner all the more rewarding.
“It felt good,” Monroe coach Michael Bumpus said of his team’s first win of the season. “I felt my boys deserved it. They’ve been working their butts off for three weeks, and I know it’s been tough for them because they followed such a great Bearcat team where expectations were really high.
“For them to finally get a win and feel some success after being through the gauntlet, I was happy for them,” he added. “It gives them more reason to come back and just keep grinding and working hard.”
Next up for the Bearcats (1-3 overall, 1-1 Wesco 4A) is an intriguing conference clash against much-improved Mount Vernon on Friday night at Monroe High School.
Just two years removed from back-to-back winless seasons in 2015 and 2016, the Bulldogs (3-1, 1-1) are off to a strong start under second-year coach Nic Vasilchek. Mount Vernon played powerhouse Lake Stevens tough last week, taking a 7-7 tie into halftime before the Vikings pulled away for a 30-7 win.
“He’s done a great job with those guys,” Bumpus said. “We were watching film from this year and last year — looking at the same guys — and they’re just totally different ballplayers.
“They’re coached up, they’re flying around with confidence and this looks like a Mount Vernon team that believes they can win every game. And that’s just a hats-off to the culture that coach Nic is building over there.”
Bumpus said he hopes the challenging early-season opposition his team has faced will pay dividends in conference matchups like this.
“I knew that it was going to be tough and there were going to be some growing pains, but hopefully we’re battle-tested now,” he said. “… They’ve been smacked around a little bit, and now they’re ready to fight back.”
MOUNT VERNON at MONROE
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Where: Monroe H.S.
Mount Vernon: 3-1 overall, 1-1 Wesco 4A; lost to Lake Stevens 30-7 last week
About the Bulldogs: Much-improved Mount Vernon gave fourth-ranked Lake Stevens a test last week, taking a 7-7 tie into halftime before the powerhouse Vikings rattled off 23 unanswered second-half points. After allowing 34.9 points per game last year, the Bulldogs are yielding just 18 points per contest this season. Senior running back Seth Tercero has rushed for 566 yards and seven touchdowns, averaging 6.5 yards per carry.
Monroe: 1-3 overall, 1-1 Wesco 4A; beat Mariner 42-10 last week
About the Bearcats: After an 0-3 start during an opening stretch that included two 4A top-10 opponents, Monroe routed Mariner last week for its first win. Junior running back Blake Rybar rushed for 175 yards and four touchdowns in the win and also forced a fumble on defense. Through four games, Rybar has run for 427 yards and six scores, averaging 7.1 yards per carry. Two-way junior standout Efton Chism III has totaled 340 yards receiving, five touchdown catches, three interceptions and a kickoff-return score.
Herald pick: Monroe
JACKSON at MARINER
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Where: Goddard Stadium (Mariner H.S.)
Jackson: 3-1 overall, 1-1 Wesco 4A; beat Cascade 48-19 last week
About the Timberwolves: After falling to Glacier Peak in its conference opener, Jackson bounced back last week with a rout of Cascade. Senior running back Nick Walsh leads the Timberwolves’ rushing attack with 456 yards and six touchdowns, averaging 6.9 yards per carry. Junior wideout Garrett Holden has 323 yards receiving and three touchdown catches, and also intercepted two passes earlier this season against Mount Rainier.
Mariner: 1-3 overall, 1-1 Wesco 4A; lost to Monroe 42-10 last week
About the Marauders: After routing Kamiak in its conference opener, Mariner suffered a blowout loss to Monroe last week, scoring 10 points or less for the second time in four games. Junior receiver Roman Savchuk had five catches for 94 yards in last week’s defeat, bringing his team-high season total to 272 yards receiving.
Herald pick: Jackson
SNOHOMISH at SHORECREST
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Where: Shoreline Stadium
Snohomish: 2-2 overall, 2-0 Wesco 3A South; beat Everett 36-3 last week
About the Panthers: Just three weeks after a 63-34 season-opening loss to Marysville Pilchuck, Snohomish limited Everett to just three points and 144 total yards in last week’s rout of the Seagulls. The Panthers are scoring 36.8 points per game, led by a rushing attack that’s averaging 258 yards per contest. Senior running back Tyler Massena has rushed for 448 yards and eight touchdowns, averaging 10.2 yards per attempt.
Shorecrest: 3-1 overall, 2-1 Wesco 3A South; lost to Shorewood 24-0 last week
About the Scots: After earning the program’s first 3-0 start since 2005, Shorecrest managed just 192 yards of total offense in last week’s shutout loss to rival Shorewood. Senior receiver Antonio Stillwell leads the Scots’ big-play passing attack with 430 yards receiving and five touchdown catches. Shorecrest’s defense is allowing just 15.5 points per game.
Herald pick: Snohomish
No. 3 LYNDEN at LAKEWOOD
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Where: Lakewood H.S.
Lynden: 4-0 overall, 1-0 Northwest 2A Sky Division; beat Archbishop Murphy 24-21 last week
About the Lions: Lynden opened conference play last week by rallying from an 11-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat Archbishop Murphy in a 2A top-five showdown. The unbeaten Lions are allowing just 15.3 points per game and held Archbishop Murphy’s offense to just 233 total yards. Lynden is looking to avenge last year’s 26-14 loss to Lakewood.
Lakewood: 3-1 overall, 0-1 Northwest 2A Sky Division; lost to Sedro-Woolley 36-14 last week
About the Cougars: After rolling to a 3-0 start, Lakewood managed just 184 yards of total offense in last week’s conference-opening loss to Sedro-Woolley. Junior dual-threat quarterback Jared Taylor accounted for 742 total yards and 11 touchdowns in the Cougars’ first three games, but was held to just 97 total yards and two scores last week.
Herald pick: Lynden