AMHS vs Blanchet

Students decked head to toe in white continue to file into the stands as senior captains Ben Hines, Kyler Gordon, and Martin Napeahi walk to center field for the coin toss. They are accompanied by Roman Miller, the namesake of Archbishop Murphy’s baseball field and longest serving member of the board of trustees. He serves as an honorary captain as the Wildcat’s take on the Bishop Blanchet Braves for their second game of the season.

Winning the toss and deferring to the second half, the Archbishop Murphy captains head into the locker room to finish preparing for the game. The band continues to play tune after tune as parents and siblings find their seats. After a week full of extreme temperatures and bad air quality, the overcast weather is a welcome return to normal.

Once the team has returned to the field, prayer has been said and the anthem has been played, Friday Night Lights can finally begin.

Senior kicker Omar Rodas boots the ball to the 5 yard line–but the Braves kickoff team gains ground quickly, returning the ball all the way to the Wildcat 40 yard line. After no gain on first down and a fumble on second, they complete a 12 yard pass and convert on 3rd. They fail to gain any yards on the next four downs, and are forced to hand the ball over to the Wildcats.

Ray Pimentel starts the Wildcat’s 1st offensive series off strong with an 8 yard run; Ben Hines rumbles 11 yards through the Braves defense on 2nd down. Senior Kyler Gordon takes the ball next and moves the ball 31 yards closer to the endzone. There are two more plays with a gain of 3 yards each before Hines punches in a 13 yard touchdown. Archbishop Murphy is the first on the board. 6-0.

The Braves offense goes 3 and out on their next series, and so do the Wildcats. And then the Braves go 3 and out again.

Archbishop Murphy, however, does not. A beautiful run by Pimentel sets up Gordon for a 48 yard touchdown, and Rodas easily sinks the PAT 13-0.

Blanchet’s next series goes similarly to their last two–3 unsuccessful plays leads to the punt team taking the field. But a high snap keeps the ball on the Brave’s side and turns the ball over to the Wildcats.

A holding penalty pushes Archbishop Murphy back 10 yards on first, but QB Victor Gabalis and senior Rweha Munyagi make up for it easily with a 25 yard passing touchdown. 13-0.

The Braves are saved on 3rd down by a pass interference call after a loss of four on 1st and an incomplete pass on 2nd. The next set of downs they convert on 4th with a 7 yard pass, but their temporary luck runs out as a short gain on 1st down is followed by 3 incomplete passes.

Archbishop Murphy’s offense starts out at their own 19 and stay there after Gabalis’ pass on 1st down to Gordon is caught out of bounds. Pimentel gains 10 easily on the next play, and then another 16 a play later. After a quick 51 yard gain by Gordon, Pimentel takes the ball again and rushes 9 yards for a touchdown. Rodas sinks another PAT. 27-0.

Gordon intercepts the ball on the Brave’s first play, but a series of unfortunate events on the Wildcat offense sends the ball right back to Blanchet. The Brave’s have a rough start to their series, but convert on 4th down with a 30 yard pass. Two plays later, they manage to squeeze past the Wildcat defense and score. 27-7.

Attempting to catch up to Archbishop Murphy, Blanchet kicks onside. They can’t get to it fast enough however; senior Jeric Williams catches it off of a bounce and starts running. “I felt like I could’ve scored, but I just felt so slow,” Williams said post-game. He didn’t get the touchdown, but he set up Pimentel for a 10 yard one on the Cat’s first down. 34-7.

The Brave’s go 3 and out on their next, and final, series for the half.

The Wildcats had 6 more plays in the half, during which Pimentel ran for 20 yards and Gordon was involved in two questionable non-calls. Gabalis took a knee on the last play to end the half.

During halftime Head Coach Jerry Jensen said the coaches talked to the younger players, especially those involved in the kickoff, about going hard all game. “They were coming off their first win last week and just weren’t working as hard as they should’ve been.”

Pimentel manages to gain some ground on the Brave’s kickoff, returning the ball 29 yards to the Blanchet 49.  Hines then runs yards 33 yards downfield, and after 3 more short gains, he finishes the drive with a 1 yard touchdown. 40-7.

Blanchet’s next drive is short lived–junior Dillon Singh-Halpin intercepts a pass and takes it to the house for a pick 6 on 3rd down. 47-7.

Sophomore Zach Sievers takes over for Rodas and comes in for the next kickoff, sending the ball to the Blanchet 35. The Brave’s go 3 and out, but punt the ball all the way to the Wildcat 1 yard line.

The Wildcats try to gain some short, quick yards on their first 2 downs, but are unsuccessful. On 3rd, Gabalis launches a 19 yard pass to Gordon, who then takes it to the end zone, making it a 99 yard touchdown. 54-7.

Sievers kicks off and the Braves manage one play before the clock runs out for the third quarter. The Brave’s start the 4th quarter with an incomplete pass and then a fumble after a 10 yard gain that they recover. They run the ball another 8 yards before their 2nd and 3rd downs fail to move them downfield at all. Freshman Josh McCarron ends their hopes of a 4th down conversion with a QB sack.

Archbishop Murphy’s next drive sees freshman Nick Rodabaugh, among other underclassmen, in to play. They make 1 first down, but fumble two plays later. The Brave’s recover.

Blanchet’s final drive seems to last forever as the clock runs down and they call timeout after timeout. They don’t make any progress throughout the drive.

Finally, the clock runs out. 54-7.

Despite the big win, Coach Jensen still told the boys in the huddle “We’ve got to get better.” When talked to  after the game, he echoed the same thought, saying that the team needs to be cleaner.

Pimentel seemed to think the same. “We definitely need to work on kickoff,” he said, “No matter what they put out there we need to get downfield and be ready.” He also thinks the team needs to focus on keeping zones while on defense, especially in preparation for the big game this week.

That big game will be the Wildcat’s taking on King’s High School this Friday at 7pm at Terry Ennis Stadium.

 

 

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Player Profile: Natalie Hayward

It’s hard to believe there was a time in her life when senior Natalie Hayward wasn’t interested in volleyball. But there was once such a time, and she even thought that it was weird.

The AMHS volleyball program sure is lucky she doesn’t think it’s weird anymore.

Natalie has now played volleyball for almost 7 years. She’s been a member of the Washington Volleyball Academy since she was 11, traveling across the country to play the sport she now loves. “I love the traveling and being able to play against some of the best volleyball players in the country,” she said. Her favorite places to travel for volleyball are Kansas, Kentucky, and Florida.

She has also played varsity volleyball at Archbishop Murphy since her freshman year. After bumping around between numbers, Natalie said she picked 10 freshman year and has stuck with it because “it just felt right.” And it certainly is right: her presence on the team is huge; this past Tuesday she recorded 6 aces, 18 kills, and 3 digs in the Wildcats 3-1 win over Blanchet. 

“My goals for this season are to keep our titles from last year, make it back to state, and hopefully get that trophy,” Natalie shared. 

Natalie has already committed to play volleyball at DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois. “I loved the atmosphere,” she said, “and the staff and students were so genuine and welcoming.” The volleyball program at DePaul is currently on the rise, and Natalie is excited to be a part of that over the upcoming 4 years. 

See Natalie in action along with the rest of the volleyball team this season as they seek to bring home the state title. 

TNF–Wildcat Edition

Thursday Night Football isn’t something you normally see in high school. But on Thursday, August 31,  four days after starting school, the AMHS student body took to the stands as the Wildcat football team took to the field. Despite it being a school night, the bleachers were packed–and all of it was broadcast live on ROOT Sports.

Following a season where all but one team in the Cascade Conference forfeited against the Wildcats, who ended up winning the 2A state title, coaches, fans, fellow football players, and news crews were excited to see what this year’s team would dish out in their home opener. Garfield High School was happy to take on AMHS for the televised game; they had their own share of media coverage when they knelt for the National Anthem during the 2016 season.

The story about this game, however, isn’t about the news crews, or the numbers, or even how two teams united to play football. No, the story of this game is how the young and old Wildcats came together to win their first football game.

After losing several key players at the end of last year, Coach Jerry Jensen had some positions he needed to fill. Most importantly, quarterback.

As second string QB last year behind alumni Connor Johnson, sophomore Victor Gabalis only saw limited reps. On Thursday, however, you could hardly tell. In his debut as starting quarterback, Gabalis completed several passes, including a 30 yard one to senior Ray Pimentel. He commanded the field with composure and ease in such an intense game.

Other freshman and sophomores that received substantial playing time included Zion Robinson (so.,LT/DE), Koli Faaiu (fr.,T/G/DE), and Josh McCarron (fr., special teams).

Obviously though, they weren’t alone on the field. The Wildcats still have several returning star players, including seniors Ben Hines, Ray Pimentel, and Kyler Gordon, to serve as mentors.

“We’re trying to teach [the younger players] to not get too big and out of the game because they get really caught up and worried about what’s going on,” senior captain Ben Hines said. “We want them to just play from their hearts and how they practice, and really just to calm down.”

Senior kicker Omar Rodas, taking over for the graduated Ryan Henderson, also deserves credit. In his first ever football game, he made all but one of his PAT attempts.

Thursday night’s game was about the meshing of old and new. It was about throwing new combinations into a game and seeing if they worked. Even though it was a win, it was also a learning experience, one that benefited both the young and old players.

The Wildcats have a long season ahead of them, with lots more learning to do. But Thursday’s 37-18 win is a sign that they’re heading in the right direction.

 

 

A Championship Weekend 

The sun continues to set over the horizon as the team is presented with their trophy for the third year in a row. Everyone has been in the heat for hours, but no one cares; the smiles on the player’s faces, the energy of all the students, it all makes it worth it. Who cares about sunburnt cheeks and growling stomachs when your school’s soccer team has just one it’s third consecutive state title? 

This season, even more than the past two, has been one for the AMHS boys soccer record books. And Saturday was the perfect end to the season. 

After a slow start Friday evening during the semi-final game against Cedarcrest, junior midfielder Sam Johnson was happy to start things off with a bang in the championship. “To get things started in such a big game gave us all the momentum. Throughout the entire state tournament, we’ve scored first, and in the semi-final that didn’t happen, so it was good to get back to our style of play,” he said. His goal came within the first 3 minutes after kickoff, a beauty from inside the right corner of the box. 

The next goal came shortly after from senior Jensen Crisler. What everyone thought was going to be a close game, was already looking like it could be a blowout. 

Goals continued to be made minutes after each other; Matt Williams, the Wildcat’s leading scorer, netted two and Crisler added another before half. 5-0 at halftime in a championship game? That wasn’t what anyone was expecting. 

The second half continued in similar fashion; Williams, Crisler, and Diego Rios all added goals to the scoreboard for the Wildcats. Every single rostered player stepped on the field, and at the end of the game, Coach Bartley returned all his starters to the field to finish their season together. 

That was the beauty of Saturday’s game. Seeing the core group of players who have grown together over the past 3 years finish their careers at Murphy, seeing the new talent that the team has for the upcoming seasons, and seeing all of us, as an Archbishop Murphy family, celebrating with each other. 

“It’s been a really awesome experience getting to play alongside the guys I did for the past few seasons and getting to lift the trophy with them one last time,” Williams, who was one of the team’s three captains this year, commented. For him, yesterday marked the last time he’ll play competitive soccer, as he does not plan to continue playing in college. “It’s still a bitter pill to swallow, but I don’t think I’d want to end my career any differently,” he told me. 

After this championship weekend, other players are also looking towards the future. Even though we have a ton of seniors leaving, I still have 100% confidence that we will be state contenders next year,” sophomore goal keeper Daniel Mycroft believes. Johnson, one of next year’s captains, however, knows that next year will be a whole new team. “It’s gonna be on myself and the other upperclassmen to bring the younger guys up to speed,” he said. 

There’s no doubt next year will be different. But for now, basking in the glory of 3 state titles is enough to focus on. 

Wildcat Soccer Team tops Greyhounds in 1st Round of State

On a gray afternoon, the Wildcat boy’s soccer team took on the Grandview Greyhounds for the first round of the 2A state tournament. Parents, siblings back from college, and classmates packed the stands in what turned out to be a typical AMHS boy’s soccer game for this year: a blowout. Every player on the roster received playing time, and the Wildcats won the game 6-1.

The first goal for the Wildcats came from junior Sam Johnson off the right side of the field, 6 minutes into the game. This was quickly followed by a goal from Isaac Feeney, also  a junior, in the 11th minute. The only other action in the first half came in the form of 2 yellow cards; one for a Greyhound and one for senior Mitchell Lovell.

The second half provided more action.

Only a minute after kickoff, senior Chase Whittaker volleyed in a beautiful goal from the top of the D-ring. In similar fashion to the first half, 5 minutes later (46′) Matt Williams (sr) bypassed 2 defenders to add one more to the scoreboard. 4-0. The next 2 goals came from Grandview, however only 1 of those goals was for their team. In the 52nd minute, Williams took another ball up top to the Greyhounds’ goal and, after shooting it, a Grandview player helped finish it into the goal. The Greyhounds did put one of their own in the AMHS net though in minute 52 after a free kick and some confusion in the box, keeping it from being another Wildcat shutout. The final goal of the game was an absolute laser by Feeney from the 20 yard line to the bottom left corner of the goal.

With a 6-1 win, the Wildcats advance to the 2A State Quarter-Finals for the 3rd year in a row.

The Wildcats are currently undefeated and have a goals for to goals against ratio of 18 to 1. That’s phenomenal, in case you were wondering.

 

Player Profile: Yutanee Ryan

Joining the softball team her sophomore year, senior Yutanee Ryan was just looking for another fun activity to participate in at school. Three seasons later, she’s grown to love the sport and the teammates she plays it with.

Math teacher Stephanie Harmon had been the softball coach at AMHS up until this year. She was the first softball coach Ryan ever had. “Harmon set the basics down for me: how to throw a ball, catch pops, field grounders, hitting, and just learning the game itself,” she said. This year, dean of students Jeff Latta and football coach Damien Holman have taken over coaching positions for the team. From them, Ryan says she’s learned how to use all her body power when swinging and throwing.

Ryan is an outfielder for the team, and she says she loves it because it helps her avoid her weakness. “I’m not great at ground balls,” she laughed.

Her favorite memories though, don’t come from the field. It’s the bus rides after games, especially wins, that Ryan loves the most. “Softball is such a team game. When I go up to the plate, my thought is never ‘I have to get a base hit’ it’s more like ‘I need to hit something to help my teammate get home,” she added.

The Wildcats are looking to close out a solid season in the next 2 weeks with some strong final games and head on to the district tournament. Yutanee Ryan and her fellow seniors will be celebrated for senior night this Thursday, 4pm, on the Upper Field at AMHS.

Player Profile: Jensen Crisler

Jensen Crisler is a four year varsity member of the Wildcat soccer team. Playing forward, he’s been a crucial piece of the team, especially the past two seasons. A leading scorer, Crisler has also taken on a new role this year as a senior, one which he has embraced fully.

Crisler’s times as a soccer player started long before his freshman year at Archbishop Murphy. “My dad wanted to coach me,” he said about the start of his soccer career. Coming from a big soccer family, he put on his first pair of cleats when he was only three years old. He’s played hundreds of games since then; including, of course, Archbishop Murphy’s two state championship games.

This year, Crisler has taken on a new role as team captain. Selected last year by teammates, he, along with fellow seniors Matt Williams and Ryan Henderson, have been tasked with being role models both on and off the field.  When asked about what his personal goals for the season are, he humbly replied, “I don’t have any personal goals. I just like to help the team achieve our main goals which are: one, win league, districts, and state; two, allow only 5 goals against us all season; and three, stay focused until the season is over.”

As the number of games he has left with the Wildcats winds down, Crisler says he wants his teammates to be able to remember him as a leader and someone who was, and still is, like family to them. “What I’ve learned from high school soccer is that your team is your family. We’d do anything for each other and we all look out for each other,” he added.

Having played soccer for 15 years now, Crisler has decided to hang up his cleats after his time with the Wildcats is done. “I want to focus on school. I plan to play many intramural sports to make up for not playing soccer though,” Crisler says of his college plans.

Catch Jensen Crisler and the Wildcat soccer team in their last home conference match and Senior Night this Friday, April 28th, at Terry Ennis Stadium against Cedar Park Christian. Game time is 6pm.