For the first time in 5 years, the Archbishop Murphy football team will play for the state championship. The last time the Wildcats played for the state title was in 2011, but they fell short, placing 2nd. Archbishop Murphy has not won a state title since 2003, when Terry Ennis was still coaching and the school played in the 1A division.
But things are much different now. Although still small enough to play 1A, football, along with all the other sports teams at AMHS, plays in the 2A division. 5 teams forfeited games with safety concerns, although a serious injury has yet to be sustained by any team that has played the varsity football team. The team has received international media coverage, and the school hosted its first ever press conference featuring several major news teams. Archbishop Murphy has outscored opponents 412-30. Now there’s just one team standing in the way of Archbishop Murphy holding the 2A state football title for the first time in history.
In Saturday’s semi-final game, the Wildcats defeated the Lynden Lions 52-14. Last year, the Wildcats lost their semi-final game to Tumwater, who they beat in this year’s quarter finals 48-10. Prior to Saturday’s game Lynden had only one loss.
Ryan Henderson kicked off to start the game, sending it out of the end zone as usual. On their first play of the game, the Lions attempted a pass, but it was blocked by AMHS junior Kyler Gordon. Only 1 of Lynden’s 8 first down pass attempts in the game would be completed. In the first quarter, the Wildcats D-line had 3 sacks, two of which came from senior WSU commit Abe Lucas. The first quarter also saw 2 touchdowns for Archbishop Murphy, one on a 6 yard run by Colin Montez and the other on a 10 yard pass from QB Connor Johnson to Anfernee Gurley (s/o to the 2nd period anatomy squad).
The second quarter was full of action, starting early on with a Lynden fumble in the endzone recovered by Gurley. At the end of that drive, Gurley would catch a 38 yard pass from Johnson and finish it for a total 58 yard touchdown. It was after this touchdown that junior Drew Carlton mentioned that it was the closest *home game we’d had all year, with the score being only 21-0 in the second quarter. Henderson was instructed on the following kickoff to “kick it to the parking lot”; it ended up being his only playable kick of the game and was returned nearly 70 yards before being stopped and brought back due to a penalty. Later in the quarter, with just over a minute left to play until halftime, the Lions scored on a 20 yard pass. The Wildcats bounced back in 3 plays though, scoring on a 16 yard pass from Johnson to Gordon.
The second half started off strong; Archbishop Murphy scored on second down on another pass from Johnson to Gordon, this time for 44 yards. Connor scored another touchdown later in the quarter on his own off of a QB sneak.
Lynden scored early in the 4th to bring the score to 14-42. Again, the Wildcats responded soon after getting the ball back, scoring off of a 13 yard pass to Gurley. After that, second string began to be subbed onto the field for Archbishop Murphy, and the score remained stagnant at 49-14 until just minutes before the end of the game when Henderson came on to kick a 56 yard field goal. After that, the Lynden Lions had one last play before turning over the ball with a fumble. The Wildcats took the field in victory formation to the cheers of an excited crowd.
Now all that stands between Archbishop Murphy and that 2A state title is the Liberty Patriots. The Patriots are currently undefeated, like the Wildcats, although they were coined the underdogs in their semi final game Saturday against Ellensburg which ended 35-26. Next weeks 1pm game at the Tacoma Dome will be one for the record books. Hopefully, it will end well for the Wildcats, who have had a whole season for the record books.