EVERETT — Archbishop Murphy senior running back Dejan Sughrim is making up for lost time.
Two years ago as a sophomore, the speedy Sughrim blew out his knee in a state playoff game. The injury not only kept him out of the team’s state championship game a week later, but it also kept him sidelined his entire junior year.
That unfortunate chapter in Sughrim’s life is finally over, and he’s making the best of his second chance.
On Oct. 6, Sughrim rushed for 170 yards and scored three touchdowns, all before halftime, as the Wildcats knocked off the Sultan Turks 56-20.
“It feels great to be back,” Sughrim said. “I spent the entire summer rehabbing. We have a great program at school and that really helped me get back in shape. I went there every day and I can say that I am 100 percent.”
Sughrim would have surely rushed for 200 or more yards, but the Wildcats built a steep 42-0 lead heading into the third quarter. And like any respectable coach, Archbishop Murphy’s Terry Ennis sat his starters for the entire second half.
More than 12 different players had a chance to run the football. In fact, sophomore running back Kelso Wilkins rushed for 63 yards on eight carries and scored a touchdown.
In six games, Sughrim has rushed for 724 yards on 43 carries. He’s second in rushing behind senior back Tony “The Tank” Houts. He leads the team with 10 touchdowns. In the team’s victory over Sultan, Sughrim rushed for 10 or more yards on six of his 11 carries, including runs of 32, 73 and a handful of 11-yard runs.
“They have so much talent and they have a huge offensive line,” said Sultan coach Jim McDicken. “We couldn’t keep up with their speed. That really hurt us. But I think they should thank that offensive line. They did a great job.”
The Wildcats have won six consecutive games and improved to 4-0 in the Cascade Conference. The team’s biggest challenge, however, comes tonight when the Wildcats host co-league leader Granite Falls (4-0, 6-0) at 7 p.m.
“This was a good team victory,” Ennis said. “I feel good about the way we played on both sides of the ball. We don’t play all that many games so it’s important that we don’t waste a Friday night.”
Sughrim gained a whopping 52 yards on the Wildcats’ first drive of the game. He capped it off with a 4-yard touchdown run. But he was far from done.
On the Wildcats’ next possession, Sughrim went 73 yards on Archbishop Murphy’s second play of the series to give the Wildcats a 14-0 lead.
“Dejan always keeps his legs moving,” Ennis said. “He has great speed and he has the potential to make big plays every time he touches the ball. But we score touchdowns as a team. Everyone has an assignment to perform. Everyone on the field contributes to our touchdowns.”
Junior defensive back Ruben Rodriguez helped stop a potential scoring drive when he intercepted Sultan quarterback Beau Champeaux at the Archbishop Murphy 18-yard line. The Wildcats’ offense responded by marching 82 yards on their next possession. Senior running back Nick Snyder gave the Wildcats a 21-0 lead when he plowed in from 5 yards out with 1:28 remaining in the first quarter.
“We’re happy about the victory but there are a few things we need to work on before our game against Granite Falls,” Ennis said. “We need to be in better position on defense. We’ll look at the tape and go from there.”
Henry Woods and freshman Brad Gee also scored touchdowns in the first half for the Wildcats. Archbishop Murphy racked up 408 total yards, 345 of which came from its unstoppable running game. When it was all over, Archbishop Murphy rushed for 539 rushing yards and held Sultan to 232 yards, most of which came in the second half.
Last week’s impressive offensive showing makes for an intriguing match up tonight.
Consider this: Granite Falls has surrendered just 14 points in the last eight quarters, including a 39-7 victory last week over Lakewood. Granite Falls’ stingy defense has also held four of its six opponents to eight or less points.
As for the Wildcats, they’ve scored a staggering 133 points in their last two games. In four of their last six games, they’ve scored 41 points or more, including a 77-6 victory over Lakewood.
“We have big game coming up,” Sughrim said. “We have to keep our focus and not take any team for granted.”