Archbishop Murphy football players gather for a huddle during practice on Thursday, Aug. 24, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Archbishop Murphy football players gather for a huddle during practice on Thursday, Aug. 24, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Young Archbishop Murphy team looks to begin turnaround

New head coach Joe Cronin is tasked with getting the Wildcats back on track in the tough-as-nails Northwest Conference.

The Archbishop Murphy football team will be in a transition mode when the Wildcats begin their season on Friday.

The new-look Wildcats are looking to embrace a youth movement under new head coach Joe Cronin after a winless season last fall.

Placed in the highly competitive Northwest 2A conference, Archbishop Murphy endured an 0-8 record in 2022 despite having some highly ranked individual prospects on the roster.

Cronin, who coached at O’Dea High School for the past nine seasons, looks forward to helping lead the program back into a more competitive state as some of his younger players gain experience this fall.

Archbishop Murphy plays run through warm up drills during practice on Thursday, Aug. 24, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Archbishop Murphy plays run through warm up drills during practice on Thursday, Aug. 24, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

“We’ll have a small group of seniors but they’re a good group of kids and leaders,” Cronin said. “Overall, we have a really good coaching staff, so that’s helped. But, they’re working hard and we’re figuring things out, getting guys in the right spots.”

From 2002 through 2017, the Wildcats made 11 state playoff appearances. Since joining the Northwest Conference in 2018, their sole trip to state was in 2019.

“It’s interesting coming from a place like O’Dea,” Cronin said. “You come from a spot where there’s a lot of tradition of winning. And the same at Archbishop, a lot of tradition of winning. … They’ve had a couple of down seasons. This is gonna be a culture year for us, and hopefully it shows up on the field.”

Archbishop Murphy head coach runs the team through warm ups during practice on Thursday, Aug. 24, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Archbishop Murphy head coach runs the team through warm ups during practice on Thursday, Aug. 24, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

The Wildcats come into the year repping a heavy group of underclassmen, but some of the returning pieces have high potential.

Senior Diontaye Moorman is slated to be one of Archbishop Murphy’s go-to playmakers on both sides of the ball. The 6-foot, 180-pound defensive back and multiple skill-position threat is ranked as the No. 44 recruit in the state according to 247sports.com.

Sophomore defensive linemen Jack Sievers and Hakeim Smalls project as the key run-stoppers for the group. Sievers, a 6-foot-4 four-sport standout athlete, will also see snaps as a tight end.

Archbishop Murphy’s Hakeim Smalls lifts his arms and cheers after their kicker makes a field goal during practice on Thursday, Aug. 24, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Archbishop Murphy’s Hakeim Smalls lifts his arms and cheers after their kicker makes a field goal during practice on Thursday, Aug. 24, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

6-foot-2, 220-pound senior Jovin Shocker will slot in as Cronin’s starting QB, with sophomore Henry Gabalis in line to be one of Shocker’s top targets.

“I think our biggest problem is gonna be depth,” Cronin said. “We have a huge class of freshmen coming in, which is awesome. But, we have a lot of talented football players. If we can stay healthy, we’ll be alright. But if we get banged up, then it could end up getting tough.”

Archbishop Murphy’s Jovin Shoker leads the team in a cheer during practice on Thursday, Aug. 24, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Archbishop Murphy’s Jovin Shoker leads the team in a cheer during practice on Thursday, Aug. 24, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

“The idea is to build that depth over time, make it fun and start building our numbers back up,” Cronin added.

The Wildcats’ top Northwest Conference foes all have elite track records of deep runs into the state playoffs. The league’s top three teams from last fall — Lynden (13-0), Anacortes (9-2) and Sedro Wooley (8-3) — all reached the state semifinal round in 2022. Lynden claimed the Class 2A state championship.

Cronin, an Everett High School grad, will be new to coaching in the 2A classification. He also coached at Lake Stevens and Cascade, which were both 4A schools at the time.

Archbishop Murphy football players run through warm ups during practice on Thursday, Aug. 24, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Archbishop Murphy football players run through warm ups during practice on Thursday, Aug. 24, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

“I don’t know a whole ton about 2A yet,” Cronin said. “But, I know the coaches and I know there’s a lot of well-coached teams, and I know that whoever goes into the playoffs always does damage. … It’s a ridiculous beast of a league. It reminds me of Metro League football, where it’s just a meat grinder.”

As Cronin and the Wildcats sink their teeth into the 2023 campaign, they’ll look to see what type of development and production they can get from a youthful group.

“We have some pieces,” Cronin said. “The coaches have been doing a great job of coaching up depth and repping kids, keeping it simple so they can learn how to play fast and play quick. … If we stay healthy, you never know. We could have a shot, we’ll see.”

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Sports

X
Vote for The Herald’s Prep Athlete of the Week for May 20-26

The Athlete of the Week nominees for May 20-26. Voting closes at… Continue reading

Champion Johnny Carey tees off during the 93rd Annual Snohomish County Amateur Championship on Monday, May 27, 2024, at the Everett Golf and Country Club in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Johnny Carey claims his first Snohomish County Amateur title

The Kamiak High School grad edges Snohomish High School senior Palmer Mutcheson by one stroke.

Seattle Kraken announce Dan Bylsma as new head coach

Bylsma, a former NHL head coach and Stanley Cup winner, has been coaching Seattle’s AHL affiliate.

Glacier Peak’s Mateo Ganje wins the Boys 200M 4A dash during the Class 4A, 3A, 2A track and field state championships at Mount Tahoma High School in Tacoma, Washington on Saturday, May 25, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
State track: Glacier Peak’s Mateo Ganje claims 200 gold

Ganje, Everett jumper Shukurani Ndayiragije each take home three top-three medals.

The Jackson softball team poses with the Class 4A state tournament trophy after a 10-1 triumph over Emerald Ridge Saturday, May 25 at Columbia Playfield in Richland, WA. (Aaron Coe / The Herald).
Domination: Jackson repeats as 4A state softball champion

The Yanina Sherwood-led Timberwolves top Emerald Ridge 10-1 in the title game.

Is Mariners slugger Julio Rodriguez about to break out?

Sunday’s performance may be a good omen for the Seattle slugger, who’s been mired in a slump.

Snohomish’s Hannah Siegler becomes emotional after striking out in the final inning of the 3A state softball championship game against Auburn Riverside on Saturday, May 25, 2024 in Lacey, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Snohomish softball falls in 3A state championship game

The Panthers lose 11-6 to Auburn Riverside, marking their second straight championship-game defeat.

State roundup: Murphy’s Balen, Jackson boys win tennis titles

Grace Academy’s Pearce Hess sweeps the sprints in the Class 1B boys track and field meet.

Snohomish players move their teamname up the bracket after a 3A softball game between Snohomish and Seattle Prep at the regional athletic complex in Lacey, Washington on Friday, May 24, 2024. Snohomish won, 8-0. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Snohomish softball advances to state semifinals

Abby Edwards’ pitching, Camryn Sage’s hitting lifts Snohomish to an 8-0 quarterfinal win over Seattle Prep.

The Jackson softball team greets Yanina Sherwood after her sixth-inning, two-run homer put Jackson ahead 4-1 a Class 4A state playoff first-round game May 24 at Columbia Playfields in Richland, WA (Aaron Coe / The Herald).
Jackson softball halfway to defending its state championship

The Timberwolves beat Eastmont, Olympia to move into the Class 4A semifinals.

X
Lake Stevens’ Brown, Pilchuck’s Velasquez win state titles

How did locals fare at state in track and field, baseball and tennis on Friday? Find out here.

Mariners report card: ‘A lot of positives’ at 50-game mark

Does Seattle have enough to maintain its lead in the AL West through the rest of the season?

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.